Ohio Kids with Asthma: The Real Face of Climate Change?
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Thousands of Ohio children with asthma struggle to breathe each day, and some experts say a major culprit is smog caused by industrial pollution. This week, for the first time ever, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to propose standards to limit carbon pollution from new power plants nationwide.
At the Natural Resources Defense Council, senior scientist Kim Knowlton says carbon pollution is linked not only to climate disruption, but also to significant health hazards like smog.
"The icon of climate change, is more than the image of a polar bear on a melting ice floe trying to survive. It's really the face of a child with asthma, using an inhaler to breathe."
According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 250,000 Ohio children suffer from asthma, and nationally, the EPA estimates 8,100 deaths a year are caused by pollution from industrial boilers. Opponents of the new rules warn they will increase energy prices and threaten domestic jobs. However, supporters say they will result in cleaner air and spur job creation in the transition to cleaner energy sources.
Nachy Kanfer, "Beyond Coal" campaign deputy director for the Sierra Club central region, says the new protections will require companies to ensure they are using the most modern technology possible, to minimize the impact of their pollution on children and health. He adds it's especially critical in Ohio, where both smog and industrial carbon pollution are big problems.
"You have the State of Ohio saying that, in many parts of Ohio - from big cities to rural counties like Meigs in the southeast - it's unsafe to breathe the air because of smog."
Groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club say they're working to educate people about the connections between carbon pollution and health problems.