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The Planet

Dust Mites to Blame, Not Pollution, Claims Industry Ad

The Planet, March 1997, Volume 4, number 2

After the Sierra Club ran radio ads urging support of the proposed EPA standards during the agency's public hearings, the industry front group Citizens for a Sound Economy, an arm of the National Association of Manufacturers, ran the following ad on two Chicago radio stations:

Announcer: The following paid for by Citizens for a Sound Economy. Voice 1: Hey, Dad!
Voice 2: Hi, son. How's the new job?
Voice 1: I'm worried. It's the impact those EPA air quality regulations will have on my job. You're a doctor. What do you make of the health claims of the EPA?
Voice 2: Son, they just don't have the science to back 'em up. Even EPA's own Science Advisory Committee admits that. And the EPA won't make public its data.
Voice 1: Really?
Voice 2: I'm a pediatrician. Kids with asthma? Most of it's caused by bad indoor air. You know, dust mites, stuff like that. Voice 1: Sounds like the bureaucrats in Washington are scheming to keep their jobs.
Voice 2: Son, air quality has been getting better the way it is. I guess they gotta have something new to work on. Voice 1: Well, these new regulations would drive up the price of cars, force people into carpooling, maybe even end up banning things like barbecue grills and lawnmowers.
Voice 2: Force us to change the way we live, huh? Voice 1: I read in the Sun-Times where it could cost Chicagoans 17 billion!
Voice 2: Amazing, since it can't be justified for health reasons. Announcer: Call Congress toll-free at (888) 412-4064 and tell them you oppose their proposal for air quality regulations because the need just isn't there.

After hearing the ad, Illinois Chapter State Field Representative Jack Darin and Ron Burke of the American Lung Association called on radio stations to pull the ad, pointing to the deceptive assertion that the Sun-Times said it could cost Chicagoans $17 billion. In fact, the Sun-Times story merely quoted an industry study claiming that figure. One station stopped running it.

(For the record, the EPA estimates that while complying with the more protective health standards may cost from $6.5 billion to $8.5 billion annually, society is expected to reap many times that amount in savings due to reduced health care costs and jobs created in pollution control.)

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