Lung Association board chairman backs Malloy on pollution call
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is arguing that a recent decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement a one-year extension on the implementation of federal air quality standards prolongs the risk of illness for thousands of residents in Connecticut, and the Wilton resident who leads the American Lung Association in the Northeast agrees with him.
The extension is not fair to the people of Connecticut and puts the health of the population at severe risk, agreed Jon Rosen, board chair of the American Lung Association of the Northeast.
Rosen was emailed a copy of Malloy’s statements.
“We think Gov. Malloy and Lt. Gov. Wyman are completely right. The American Lung Association in Connecticut agrees that every resident of our state has the right to breathe clean, healthy air 24/7, 365 days a year,” Rosen said in a statement.
The governor made his comments in response to a decision earlier this month by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to delay the designation phase of the 2015 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). He is urging Pruitt to reconsider his decision.
“We urge you to move faster — not slower — to implement the 2015 ozone standard so that concentrations of pollution in our air will be less of a threat to our residents,” Malloy said in a letter to the EPA.
In his letter, Malloy explained that more than 90% of pollution found within Connecticut’s borders actually comes from western, upwind states that do not take the issue of air pollution seriously and blow their emissions toward the Northeast. He points out that even if every power plant and factory within the boundaries of Connecticut ceased operations,the state’s air would still exceed the federal ozone standards because of air pollution created to other states and blown into Connecticut.
The Governor argues that in addition to the health issues that air pollution causes, delaying the standards will put Connecticut businesses at an economic disadvantage against states that ignore critical air quality issues.
“For the sake of public health and economic fairness, I urge you to reconsider the unnecessary one-year extension and to promulgate initial attainment and nonattainment designations under the 2015 Ozone NAAQS,” Malloy wrote.
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman said the decision is irresponsible and is a national policy failure that unequivocally risks the health of citizenswho are downwind of polluting states. “In Connecticut, this delay means more
bad air-quality days; more days when seniors, children, and people with respiratory problems struggle to breathe. That is unacceptable. As we modernize energy, transportation, and infrastructure, states must be held to higher pollution emission standards, not lower ones,” Wyman said.The timing could not be worse for the delay of the designation phase of the 2015 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards, Rosen said. Each year, the American Lung Association releases its State of the Air Report, which grades counties on ozone and particulate matter pollution.
In 2017, seven of the eight counties in Connecticut received failing grades for ozone pollution. Of the 40 most ozone-polluted counties in the United States, the only three on the East Coast were Fairfield, New Haven and Middlesex.
In addition, a number of stifling heat waves are predicted this summer, which will exacerbate ozone pollution, he said. In Fairfield County, the most polluted county in the New York City metro area, there are more than 25,000 children with pediatric asthma, more than 76,000 adults with asthma, and more than 36,000 people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Almost 600 people are fighting lung cancer.
“What would EPA Administrator Pruitt say to these 137,000-plus people who are at risk? What would he say to their loved ones? The American Lung Association has been fighting for clean air for 113 years. We can’t afford to turn back the clock for one nanosecond when the health and lives of our most vulnerable citizens are at risk,” Rosen said.
Rosen said he takes ozone pollution seriously because his son suffered severe asthma attacks as an infant. His dad battled emphysema more than 10 years and had to relocate to Florida.
“For me, and for the families of thousands of others in Connecticut and nationwide, ozone pollution continues to be a matter of life and death,” Rosen said.
In general, air quality measurements are strongly influenced by seasonal weather patterns. This is especially true for ozone and haze, which appear in high concentrations during hot, dry weather and low concentrations during cool, wet weather, according to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
During 2012, the last year for which complete data was available, weather conditions during the summer were generally warmer than normal, with 25 days above 90°F at Bradley Airport near Hartford, leading to more high ozone days. The year 2012 had 29 days which exceeded the limit for ozone, and the cooler 2011 had 16 days which exceeded the limit.