The issue of air pollution has been on our minds a lot in 2017. American cities are nothing like Delhi or Beijing, where toxic smog blankets the skyline and closes schools. But air quality is still very poor in far too many parts of the United States.
All around the globe, air pollution impacts people’s lives — keeping people indoors, leading to conditions like asthma, lung cancer, heart disease, and even brain disease, and leading to millions of deaths each year. And no, this isn’t just a problem abroad: More than half of Americans live in areas that have unsafe levels of air pollution. Most of that air pollution comes from the toxic emissions spewing out of the tailpipes of our cars and trucks.
We’ve compiled some examples of how air pollution is affecting the lives of people from London, to Shanghai, to Los Angeles, to Delhi, to Salt Lake City and even more places in a Twitter Moment. Below is a sample of what we’ve pulled together:
Smog can sweep in like a wave. Or a faceless villain in a John Carpenter movie. As it did in Beijing on Jan. 2.
— CNN (@CNN) January 2, 2017
In late January, London’s air surpassed Beijing’s in awfulness. Particulate matter, which can lodge in lungs, hit 197 micrograms per cubic meter; the recommended limit is 25.
Air pollution in London passed levels in Beijing this week, with popular wood burning stoves blamed for exacerbating the problem pic.twitter.com/48OAGRyzbt
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) January 25, 2017
Mexico City tried banning cars on Saturdays, expecting particulates and nitrogen oxides would fall 16 percent. But the gains never materialized.
— Fuel Freedom (@fuelfreedomnow) February 6, 2017
The Wasatch front near Salt Lake City has its own air problems in wintertime, when pollution collects in the valley below the mountains.
The air is opaque in Salt Lake City. pic.twitter.com/ADuAvkz5Xl
— Tiff Frandsen (@tiffany_mf) February 1, 2017
The agency in charge improving SoCal air quality is focused primarily on stationary sources of pollution, like factories. Millions of cars are tougher to control.
— Fuel Freedom (@fuelfreedomnow) February 7, 2017
Everyone deserves clean air to breathe, and that’s why we believe it’s so important that America and the world transition to cleaner fuels. This is one of the many reasons we’re fighting to ensure Americans have a choice of cleaner burning fuels at the pump. We hope you’ll join us in this fight by making a donation today.
We’ve all been stuck behind one before. A car that clearly hasn’t passed a smog check in years, spewing smoke from its tailpipe like there’s no tomorrow. You probably know that the stuff coming out of there isn’t good for you, or the environment. But what exactly is it composed of?
I must admit I’ve always been a little skeptical about this idea that diesel can be a “clean-burning fuel.” Anyone who has ever gotten stuck sitting behind a bus in traffic is likely to agree. Read more
The battle lines already are drawn over the Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement Wednesday that it’s seeking to reduce the nation’s levels of ground-level ozone, the main component of smog.
Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is required to review air-quality standards every five years. Under President George W. Bush, the agency set the ozone threshold at 75 parts per billion in 2008.
The EPA now wants to lower the bar to between 65 ppb and 70 ppb, the level that the agency’s advisory board of independent scientists and physicians has recommended. However, EPA will review comments on a lower benchmark of 60 ppb during its commentary period.
Ozone is created when sunlight hits emissions coming from vehicles, electricity-generating plants and factories. The EPA said ozone at the current accepted levels “can pose serious threats to public health, harm the respiratory system, cause or aggravate asthma and other lung diseases, and is linked to premature death from respiratory and cardiovascular causes.”
The NRDC said medical evidence shows that the revised limit, even at the lower end of 65 ppb, is harmful to health. ”So we urge EPA to set the standard at 60 ppb.”
That stance will put the EPA on a collision course with the manufacturing sector and Republican elected officials, who will control both the Senate and House in January. Sen. James Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican who will take over as chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a statement that the lower threshold “will lower our nation’s economic competitiveness and stifle job creation for decades.”
National Association of Manufacturers president and CEO Jay Timmons said the new ozone regulation “threatens to be the most expensive ever imposed on industry in America and could jeopardize recent progress in manufacturing by placing massive new costs on manufacturers and closing off counties and states to new business …”
The Associated Press notes that the EPA initially proposed a range of 60 to 70 ppb in January 2010. Had that gone into effect, it would have come with an estimated price tag of between $19 billion and $90 billion and would have doubled the number of U.S. counties in violation.
In 2011, President Obama, in advance of his 2012 re-election campaign, “reneged on a plan by then-Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson to lower the permissible level to be more protective of public health,” The AP wrote.
“Seldom do presidents get an opportunity to right a wrong,” Bill Becker of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies told AP. “Obama has walked the walk on air.”
Current EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, in a post on CNNMoney.com, put the health argument front and center. But she also said cutting emissions would help the economy, not hinder it:
“Missing work, feeling ill, or caring for a sick child costs us time, money, and personal hardship. When family health issues hurt us financially, that drags down the whole economy. … Special-interest critics will try to convince you that pollution standards chase away local jobs and businesses, but, in fact, healthy communities attract new businesses, new investment, and new jobs.”
Fuel Freedom co-founder and Chairman Yossie Hollander guided PUMP the movie to a successful weekend in Atlanta, hosting two Q&As after Friday night’s and Saturday night’s showings at the historic Plaza Theatre.
He also promoted the film and its message on radio, appearing on both WMLB-AM1690 (“The Voice of the Arts”) and its sister station, WCFO-AM1160 (“The Talk of the Town”). You can listen to the first interview below:
During the segment, Hollander was asked how he got involved with PUMP, a project more than two years in the making.
He answered: “We realized long ago that oil is one of the toughest problems we have. We are funding our enemies, but it’s mainly a burden for the American people. It’s the air we breathe. The brown cloud you see above Atlanta is not from coal, it’s from oil.
“And mostly it’s the burden on our pockets. Families really suffer, and we figured out this is the biggest problem that we can solve. If we can do it with cheaper American fuels, we can actually change America.”
Here’s the second interview, on WCFO, which aired Saturday and Sunday:
PUMP premiered in September and continues to play in theaters around the country. This week it debuts in Tucson, Anchorage and Brunswick, Maine. Visit PumpTheMovie.com for theaters and times, and to buy tickets.