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PNS Daily Newscast - September 28, 2020 


The New York Times reports President Trump's tax returns show chronic losses; and will climate change make it as a topic in the first presidential debate?


2020Talks - September 28, 2020 


The New York Times obtains President Trump's tax returns, showing chronic loss and debts coming due. And Judge Amy Coney Barrett is Trump's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Deadline Looms for Public Comments on EPA’s Transparency Rule

Research suggests exposure to air pollution over time can contribute to the development of serious lung conditions. (Adobe Stock)
Research suggests exposure to air pollution over time can contribute to the development of serious lung conditions. (Adobe Stock)
May 4, 2020

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Time is running out for public comments on a proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule change that would block the agency from considering scientific studies that don't make their data publicly available.

Opponents argue that environmental data often includes personal information about patients, and say it's standard practice to keep citizens' medical information confidential.

Rachel McIntosh-Kastrinsky, program manager of Medical Advocates for Healthy Air with Clean Air Carolina, maintains these types of rule changes should be postponed until COVID-19 is less of a crisis.

She points out that the EPA last month rejected scientists' recommendation to reduce the amount of fine particulate matter allowed in the air.

"The EPA is moving forward on this transparency rule, on this PM 2.5 standard, during the middle of a pandemic, when health professionals -- whether they're scientists on the front line trying to develop these tests, or whether they're literally doctors and nurses that are in clinics and in hospital right now treating people -- do not have the capacity to comment on these rules," she states.

The deadline for public comments on the rule is May 18, but McIntosh-Kastrinsky says the country's medical professionals and scientists are too busy fighting the coronavirus pandemic to properly weigh in.

Andrew Wheeler, the EPA administrator, says the rule is needed to boost scientific transparency. So far, more than 31,000 comments have been submitted.

Candace Cahoon, a pediatric respiratory therapist in Hertford County, says the EPA's readiness to abandon clean air regulations will negatively impact North Carolinians' health. She points out that damaged lung airways in people with asthma are worsened by breathing in polluted air.

"The airway can narrow, and it also starts spasming," she explains. "When that airway gets narrowed, they cannot get air in, they cannot get air out; they literally cannot breathe. Air pollution can trigger an asthma attack. Air pollution can trigger a COPD exacerbation."

The EPA also has stopped enforcing environmental regulations, citing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. It remains unclear when enforcement will resume.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - NC