Watertown Daily Times (Letter to the editor): Obama decision puts people’s health at risk

(September 15, 2011)

I was troubled to see the Times characterize President Obama’s decision to again delay revising the ozone standard as a “wise decision.” This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Science clearly supports the most protective standard of 60 parts per billion to safeguard those most sensitive to air pollution.

Ozone can burn and inflame the lungs and airways and worsen asthma, emphysema and bronchitis. Senior citizens, children, teens and even healthy individuals who work and exercise outdoors are at risk. We need the Environmental Protection Agency to take decisive action now to clean the air and protect our public health.

Polluters have been allowed to spew deadly toxins into our air and endanger New Yorkers’ lives for too long. According to the Lung Association’s State of the Air Report 2011, nearly half of the state’s residents live in areas where air pollution endangers their lives and health. Jefferson County was one of the New York counties that received a failing grade for ozone.

It’s a fallacy that clean air and economic growth are mutually exclusive. It’s discouraging to see our president acting in a manner that perpetuates this erroneous belief. Ozone pollution has real consequences that hurt real people. Delaying the adoption of a tighter ozone standard was a poor decision that will needlessly put people’s health at risk.

Dr. Irwin Berlin

The writer is board chair of the American Lung Association in New York.