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MT Health Experts "Clear the Air" on EPA Haze Rule

March 12, 2012

HELENA, Mont. - The EPA is expected to announce new rules to clear the haze this week, and it will likely mean new pollution control requirements at the Colstrip coal-burning power plant. Health care professionals are gathering in Helena today to discuss the health benefits of reducing air pollution.

Dr. Robert Shepard is a family physician in Helena who authored a ground-breaking study on how cutting cigarette smoke exposure leads to an immediate reduction in heart attacks. He's reviewed the studies on coal plant pollution and is making a similar prediction at today's event.

"So, it's absolutely not surprising that the benefit from cleaning up coal-fired plants on heart disease is very clear and very well-documented."

Dr. Shepard says heart health isn't the only benefit of limiting particle pollution. Lung conditions are also connected to industrial pollution.

"We also have a lot of data on the inflammatory process of these things inside the lungs and the bronchial tubes, that create conditions that make asthma more likely and more difficult to control."

The EPA "haze" rule will cover smoggy pollution such as mercury, soot and sulfur. It will come at a cost of billions of dollars for the industry, although Dr. Shepard says the cost of doing nothing is up to ten times that amount in health care expenses.

The event is at 11 a.m., Montana State Capitol, fan window area on the Third Floor.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MT