To the Editor:
It was fantastic to read about Vienna’s commitment to more sustainable living [“Making Life ‘Greener’ in Vienna” (The Vienna and Oakton Connection, April 24-30, 2013]. The Green Expo highlighted the need for less polluting forms of transportation. Our excess of cars on the road is a real threat to our health.
I work for the American Lung Association, and just last week we released our 2013 “State of the Air” report. This report looks at levels of soot and smog pollution in cities and counties across the country, and ranks and grades each community for its air quality. The news wasn’t great for Northern Virginia. Fairfax County had fewer days with unhealthy levels of smog, or ozone, than in last year’s report. However, we still got an “F” for ozone pollution.
The entire DC metro area suffers from too much smog—it’s the ninth smoggiest area in the country, in fact. And that’s truly dangerous for our health. The effects of ozone are like a sunburn to our lungs. Anyone can suffer from the health effects, like shortness of breath and long-term lung damage. Among the most vulnerable, though, are Fairfax County’s 265,000 children, 112,000 elderly adults, 50,000 people with COPD, and 95,000 people with asthma.
Cleaning up our transportation is key to combating these negative health effects. Vienna’s showcase of cleaner cars is an important step. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has also proposed another milestone: new standards that would clean up our gasoline and vehicles. The standard would not only make future cars less polluting, it would also make our gasoline cleaner, which would allow all the cars currently on the road to be less polluting as well.
These standards would clean up the air equivalent to taking 33 million cars off the road, and prevent thousands of asthma attacks and lost work days and hundreds of premature deaths each year, according to the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. And not only are public health and environmental groups supportive of the standards, but major auto manufacturers are on board, too.
As we take local steps to clear our air, take a minute to weigh in in favor of these lifesaving standards at HYPERLINK "http://www.fightingforair.org/"www.fightingforair.org. Finalizing them would go a long way toward making Fairfax a healthier place to breathe.
Laura Kate Anderson Bender