Good news is hard to find these days, so let’s celebrate what crumbs we can find: Virginia’s air is the cleanest it has been in years, the Department of Environmental Quality has announced. States the press release:
For years now, the trend for air quality in Virginia has been one of steady improvement. Pollutants such as ozone, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and particles have shown consistent declines for 20 years or more. Emissions of these pollutants in Virginia have decreased by almost 60 percent in the past 20 years. This has happened in the face of increased demand for electricity and many more vehicles on Virginia’s highways.
Twenty years ago, the ozone health standard was 120 parts per billion, and dozens of Virginia localities failed to meet it. Since then, the standard has been strengthened to 70 parts per billion. Yet only on four days this summer, the season of peak ozone, did ozone readings surpass the tighter limits, and even then exceedances were limited to four localities.
Ozone is an important pollutant to control because it is commonly said to be a cause of asthma, a health issue that affects millions of Americans. States the Environmental Protection Agency: “Although the data are inconsistent, some epidemiological studies suggest that long-term exposure to ozone could play a role in the development of asthma.” There is greater scientific certainty that high ozone levels create health issues for people who already have asthma.
While the incidence and severity of asthma is tied to many things other than ozone, such as obesity and smoking, the trend to cleaner air in Virginia coincides with a decline in asthma-related fatalities. In fact, the rate of such fatalities in Virginia, once higher than the national average, was lower in 2010, the most recent year for which I could find data.
So, rejoice, people, political conflict may be driving us to despair, but life is getting better in many ways. The hundreds of billions of dollars invested in cleaning up smokestacks and auto exhaust is paying off.There are currently no comments highlighted.