Breathing in Northeast Ohio may be hazardous
to your health. The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA)
is trying to fix that, and could use your help.
Little particles floating
through Ohio’s air get sucked into our air passages daily. They
are mostly soot from burning coal or diesel fuel. It’s not the
pieces you can see floating through the air that are a problem, which
are usually filtered by your nose and throat anyway. It’s the “invisible” microscopic
particles that are settling into your lungs to stay a while and possibly
cause or aggravate asthma, lung diseases, and heart problems; not to
mention that some particles could also hold metals and metal oxides.
of this particulate matter (with the worst trouble-makers called PM2.5,
from their size of 2.5 micrometers) comes from burning coal in our power
plants and from burning gasoline and diesel in vehicles, generators,
and the like. Coal, gasoline, and diesel are fossil fuels.
The U.S. EPA
has declared seven counties of Northeast Ohio as being “out of
attainment” under the Clean Air Act for these small PM2.5 particles.
This includes Ashtabula (partial), Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage,
and Summit Counties.
Potential solutions include plug-in power at truck
stops to reduce diesel emissions while truckers sleep and anti-idling
restrictions; and renewable power options such as wind and solar are
also under discussion. Technology and regulatory suggestions such as
these will go to the Ohio EPA as recommendations for its State Implementation
Plan. If adopted, Northeast Ohioans will see these beneficial suggestions
become a reality and can begin breathing healthier, cleaner air.
fix the PM2.5 problems, we also help alleviate regional climate change
problems. Cleaning up PM2.5 by reducing and replacing fossil fuel burning
also reduces carbon dioxide, our most notorious greenhouse gas. This
curbs acid rain by reducing sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions.
It also reduces mercury emissions that are getting into our Lake Erie
and Ohio stream fish, threatening brain development of our youngest Ohioans.
You can help by contacting the offices of Governor-elect
Ted Strickland, Lt. Governor-elect Lee Fisher in the governor’s
office, Senator-elect Sherrod Brown, and Senator George Voinovich to
promote funding and tax breaks for renewable power, alternative fuels
and hybrids, and energy efficiency; and for regulations
fossil fuel emissions. Also, visit this website to reduce energy usage
at home and in the office: http://www.eere.energy.gov/. Click on “Consumers” on
the right-hand column.
To come and listen in during a meeting or to join
one of the working groups for stationary sources, mobile sources, long-range
planning, etc., email Amy Wainright at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a Sierra Club contact, please email Linda Sekura.
maps for northeast Ohio: http://ohioair.info/quality/currentmappm25.asp
webpage at www.noaca.org/pmsipplan.html
USEPA’s PM2.5 webpage at
Photo credit: Ian Britton freefoto.com