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Published: Wednesday, 4/27/2011

Lucas County gets 'F' from lung group for smog control

BY TOM HENRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Lucas County has received another failing grade for smog from the nation's oldest clean air advocacy group.

In its 12th annual State of the Air report, scheduled for release at 5 a.m. Wednesday, the American Lung Association gave Lucas County an "F" for failing to curtail the release of ground-level ozone, or smog, and a "C" for managing fine particles commonly known as soot.

The association's report, based on the government's latest publicly available data, posts grades for all counties with air pollution monitors.

In this area, that includes Wood, Allen, Lenawee, and Monroe counties, in addition to Lucas County.

Wood County got a "C" for its ozone program. Allen and Lenawee counties both received a "D." Monroe County does not monitor for ozone, but got a "B" for its efforts to control fine particles. Wood, Allen, and Lenawee counties do not monitor for that pollutant.

Lucas County has received a failing grade for ozone several times, including last year. Lenawee County improved from a failing grade for ozone last year. Wood and Allen counties improved from a "D" and an "F" for ozone, respectively. Other grades remained unchanged.

"People are hurting from the air pollution, young and old," according to Dr. Amy Chuang, a Cleveland Clinic Lorain pulmonologist and critical care allergist who spoke to reporters Tuesday on a conference call hosted by the lung association. Named one of northern Ohio's Top 10 allergists by Northern Ohio Live magazine in 2002, she said she feels "very frustrated" by the number of cases of asthma and other forms of respiratory distress she has encountered over the past 30 years.

The lung association is using the report's findings to beef up its lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill on behalf of the Clean Air Act. Some members of Congress have talked about weakening it and other environmental regulations to give industries a break.

The report shows the act has succeeded in bringing gradual improvements to the nation's air.

Shelly Kiser, a lung association advocacy director and member of the Ohio Asthma Coalition's steering committee, said it would be foolhardy to gut the Clean Air Act.

"Obviously, we still have a big problem and we still have a lot of work to get done," she said. "But one thing we can say is the Clean Air Act is working."

The Ohio Asthma Coalition is a cross-section of medical and public health professionals, business and government agency leaders, and community activists attempting to reach out to those with asthma.

Government statistics cited by the lung association in State of the Air show nearly one of every 10 Lucas County residents -- 45,447 of 463,493 residents -- have asthma, with 10,317 of them being 18 or younger. About 40 percent have other health conditions that can be exacerbated by air pollution, the most prevalent in Lucas County being cardiovascular disease and diabetes.



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