Led by the National Association of Manufacturers, industry lobbyists
are emitting a blizzard of hot air to persuade Congress to vote down
the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed clean air standards.
Here are some of their main arguments, followed by actual facts:
It's the EPA, stupid. NAM and its friends complain that the EPA's
proposals are based not on science, but on politics. In fact, the
clinical evidence is overwhelming -- not just to the EPA, but to
scientists throughout the United States -- that existing air-quality
standards do not go far enough to protect Americans' health, especially
the health of our children. The conclusion that current levels of smog
and soot in our nation's air threaten children with asthma and older
Americans with heart and lung diseases was not reached by bureaucrats
in Washington, D.C. It was the consensus of an independent panel of
scientists, the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, which reviewed
3,000 health studies conducted over the last 15 years before
recommending the EPA adopt stricter air quality standards.
The health risks of doing nothing are exaggerated. Hardly. Breathing
smog makes children's lungs swell and redden and causes coughing and
shortness of breath. Continued exposure can scar and severely damage
children's lungs. It is the exposure to pollution at an early age, when
their bodies and their immune systems are still developing, that puts
children's health at risk for years to come. The EPA estimates its
recommended reductions in soot and smog will reduce serious respiratory
problems in children by 250,000 cases a year.
Studies confirm a direct relationship between declines in air quality
and increases in hospital admissions and emergency room visits for
respiratory problems, especially among the young and the elderly. For
example: An American Lung Association study of 13 cities found that
hospitalization of people with asthma and heart disease doubled during
the summer, when smog is heaviest. The Natural Resources Defense
Council's analysis of Harvard University data shows that soot in the
air shortens the lives of 64,000 Americans annually. Lives are not just
being shortened by days or weeks, but by an average of one to two years
in the most polluted areas. Researchers at Brigham Young University
discovered that when soot levels in the air rose, hospital admissions
of children with respiratory illnesses tripled.
A Harvard study of children at summer camps across the country found
smog damaged healthy children's lungs, even at levels well below what
is currently allowed. The study also showed that children with asthma
suffered more and needed to use their medication more often when smog
levels climbed. Asthma is the leading cause of repeated absences from
school, according to the American Lung Association.
A study conducted by the UCLA School of Medicine concluded that air
pollution's damage to lung function resembles the damage done by
Cleaner air is too expensive. Despite the claims of the National
Association of Manufacturers and other industry associations, who are
waging a multi-million-dollar campaign to derail the EPA's new
standards, the new protections will save billions each year in medical
costs, sick days and lost productivity. The EPA's proposals to
strengthen clean-air protections will cost 10 to 12 cents per person a
day, just $31 to $41 per person a year. The fact is, we cannot afford
to stop the progress we have made toward cleaning America's air. The
cost in lives lost and risks to our children's health is too high.
Americans must have stricter air quality standards to protect our
families and our future.
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