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PA Mom's Concerns About Living in a Toxic Pennsylvania

June 18, 2012

PHILADELPHIA - Gretchen Alfonso of Philadelphia has a three-year-old son. She also has major concerns about air quality and about talk on Capitol Hill of overturning the Environmental Protection Agency's Mercury and Air Toxics Standard. She's fearful of a Senate proposal to do away with those protections.

Alfonso is a member of the Moms Clean Air Force which encourages parents to fight for clean air for their children.

"This is so that another mother doesn't find herself eight months pregnant worrying about the health of her child, and what kind of harm she has caused her child just by living in Pennsylvania."

The Congressional Review Act resolution that would overturn that clean air standard is sponsored by Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe and backed by 29 others, including Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey. The measure comes up for a vote Wednesday, and Alfonso says her hope is that she and others in Pennsylvania concerned about air quality can convince a majority of Senators where they live to vote against the resolution.

Alfonso says that already in Pennsylvania, quality of life in her home is affected by compromised air and water quality. She says her husband and three-year-old son love to fish, but mercury concerns in lakes and streams means it's all catch and release.

"So I can send my three-year-old out with my husband to go fishing and it's a great bonding experience for them, but they can't bring those fish home and cook them. These are issues that a three-year-old child shouldn't have to worry about."

John Walke is Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Clean Air Program. He says that, not only does the EPA's Mercury and Air Toxics Standard result in cleaning up old, dirty power plants, it's also good for the economy.

"You're giving thousands of workers jobs to construct pollution controls, to install pollution controls, and to continue to operate those pollution controls as long as the plant operates."

According to the EPA, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard will save as many as 11,000 lives, prevent as many as 130,000 asthma attacks among children, and prevent as many as 4,700 heart attacks each year.


Tom Joseph, Public News Service - PA