Rochester Democrat & Chronicle (Guest essay): Delayed rules hinder lung health

Scott Santarella – Guest essayist
Essays – November 27, 2010

Scott Santarella

It is extremely disappointing that the state Department of Environmental Conservation and Gov. David Paterson’s administration have allowed important regulations that have the ability to improve air quality and protect New Yorkers’ health to be further delayed. The tabling of the proposed regulations by the state environmental board did a terrible disservice to Rochester area residents who want to breathe clean air.

While the lung association supported the originally proposed regulations, we didn’t feel they went far enough. Regulations need to be adopted that address the toxic smoke coming from older outdoor wood boilers that are currently operating across the state.

More New Yorkers have contacted the lung association about breathing problems they attribute to living in proximity to these devices than any other air quality issue. The smoke from these furnaces makes it difficult for people to breathe, especially those with lung disease, and negatively impacts our air quality. In fact, last year Monroe County received an “F” for ozone in our State of the Air Report 2010.

On behalf of the 2.5 million New Yorkers who suffer from lung disease, the lung association will continue to advocate for implementation of the proposed regulations on new outdoor wood boilers that were tabled, as well as a phase out of all existing wood boilers. Furthermore, we will vehemently oppose any legislative attempt to limit state regulatory authority over these devices.

When our State of the Air Report showed that more than 12 million people are living in counties with failing air quality, we can’t afford to ignore major sources of pollution that impede lung health and hinder breathing.

Santarella is president and CEO of the American Lung Association in New York.