The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just identified twelve areas with high levels of sulfur dioxide pollution. Sulfur dioxide is emitted by coal plants, and is a particularly noxious threat to our health: five minutes of exposure to these fumes can cause difficulty breathing and asthma, and longer-term exposure can cause cardiac conditions and premature death. The EPA’s designation of areas particularly vulnerable to sulfur dioxide pollution, and its holding accountable the polluters responsible for this threat to our health, is an important step in making our world healthier and more sustainable. Health professionals must continue to do all that we can to increase awareness of health risks associated with coal, and to advocate for healthier energy sources. For more on how we can work together to protect public health, check out the resources we offer.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took an important, long overdue step today to better protect some of our communities from dangerous levels of sulfur dioxide air pollution, but they've left others still holding their breath.
Sulfur dioxide pollution, which largely comes from coal plants, is a very dangerous threat to the health of our families and communities. It's so much of a danger that even short-term exposure for as little as five minutes is associated with breathing problems like asthma attacks, particularly among vulnerable populations like the elderly and asthmatics. On top of that, the medical community has established connections between chronic exposure and even more serious conditions, such as aggravation of cardiac conditions, hospitalization, and even premature death.
Back in 2010, the EPA issued a new health standard for sulfur dioxide, which set in motion the process to clean up the air in polluted communities. The next step in the process was for the EPA to identify areas not meeting the standard. After a sustained advocacy push by the Sierra Club and our allies, a federal court approved a timeline and framework for the EPA to do a thorough review of all the communities in the country.
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