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Report: More “Bad Air” Days in the TN Forecast

September 14, 2007

Memphis, TN – A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council shows there will be more "bad air" days in Tennessee, and the culprit is global warming. The report says rising temperatures from climate change will mean more hot summer days for Tennessee cities, raising the risk of smog and high ozone levels. Report coauthor Kim Knowlton says that means more coughing, chest pain, and lung damage.

"Some of the people that are really most susceptible include kids, kids with asthma, and the elderly. Even active portions of the healthy population can be at risk from these exposures."

The report makes air quality predictions for ten U.S. cities, including Memphis, but Knowlton says it's not all bad news. She explains that cutting back on the causes of climate change-related pollution would also reduce the number of pollutants that cause smog. What will it take? Cleaning up power plants, car and truck tailpipes, and industries that are the sources of pollution.

However, if climate change continues at its current rate, Knowlton's research indicates Memphis is in for at least 10 additional unhealthy air days every summer by 2050, and other Tennessee cities would see similar changes.

"For Memphis, that's like a 63 percent increase in the number of ozone-exceedance days, which means unhealthy air quality days."

The full report, "Health Advisory: How Global Warming Causes More Bad Air Days," can be found online, at www.nrdc.org.

Deborah Smith/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - TN