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Virginians Living Near Major Roads Urge Stronger Air Pollution Standards

August 3, 2009

RICHMOND, Va. - Traffic and power plants are two of the biggest sources of nitrogen dioxide, an air pollutant that irritates the lungs, triggers asthma attacks and lowers the body's natural resistance to respiratory infections. At an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hearing today in Arlington, Va., the American Lung Association is calling on the agency to strengthen the nation's nitrogen dioxide standards.

Heather Grzelka is not only the association's communications director, she's also a mom with her husband on active duty in the military. After the family was transferred to northern Virginia from Texas, Grzelka says she saw a big change in her daughter's health. For the last two years, she has had a chronic cough.

"The only thing we really see that has been different in her environment is that the area where we live now has a lot of air pollution."

Grzelka and air quality experts will speak today to ask the EPA to adopt stringent air pollution standards. New standards would trigger federally enforced clean-up measures.

Gzrelka says the EPA is taking a step in the right direction by proposing nationwide monitoring of air quality near the nation's major highways.

"It's hard to know the full extent of the problem if we're not fully monitoring air pollution, particularly along our busy roadways."

Gzrelka adds that many low-income neighborhoods have major highways going right through them, forcing residents to breathe dangerous exhaust fumes.

The hearing begins at 9 a.m. at the EPA Potomac Yard Conference Center, 1 Potomac Yard, 2777 South Crystal Dr., Arlington.

Aries Keck, Public News Service - VA