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Grace M., GA

When I found out the county I live in, Paulding County, GA, made the "lowest particles" list I was enraged!! The area of Paulding I live in is ALWAYS smoky. I have a Dylos DC 1700 particle counter on my front porch and we literally never have clean air. Most nights there are between 200,000 to 600,000 .5um fine particles per cubic foot of air. The air monitor for Paulding (Yorkville) is on the far western side of the county, in the middle of nowhere and conveniently situated so that it avoids most of the prescribe burning smoke from Talladega National Forest and Paulding Forest. (Both have what is known as "fire forests", longleaf pine that requires burning ever 18 months to 2 years with herbicide applications in between!) If smoke does threaten to elevate the readings, they turn the monitors off. (Perfect example: April 4, 2012. Huge smoke event from a Talladega Rx burn that was covered by all of metro Atl media. The Yorkville monitor was turned off before the smoke reached it.) Paulding operates in violation of the state's EPD air quality open burning regulations. All outdoor burns require a permit by state law and EPD regulations, but this county pays no attention to that. In counties with a population of over 65,000 (Paulding has 140,000) all you can legally burn are small piles of leaves and twigs. In Paulding people burn HUGE piles of logs, stumps, wet pine straw, etc and those of us who complain are treated like there is something wrong with us. There are at least two sites in my community where metal thieves are burning the insulation off of wire and no one will do anything about it. The local park ranger said, "Someone is getting paid off". Three years ago I was in perfect health. Now I have damage to my heart and lungs from the illegal burning. I have a type of reactive airways that doesn't respond to asthma medicine and I have heart arrhythmia. Both are triggered by combustion particles. I am living sealed up in my house with multiple air purifiers and when I go outside in this area I have to wear a cartridge filter mask. Paulding County, GA does not qualify for the lowest particle list.

First Published: September 23, 2015

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