Today’s New York Times is reporting that the Environmental Protection Agency is taking steps to eliminate sulfur from gasoline in what may be the single most important public health achievement of the last 6 years.
“The E.P.A. estimates that the new rule will drastically reduce soot and smog in the United States, and thus rates of diseases associated with those pollutants, while slightly raising the price of both gasoline and cars. The rule will require oil refiners to install expensive new equipment to clean sulfur out of gasoline and force automakers to install new, cleaner-burning engine technology.” New York Times, March 6, 2014
What are the diseases associated with soot and smog?
- Lung disease
- Heart disease
- Premature birth
- Premature death
The EPA expects that “the new rule will prevent between 770 and 2,000 premature deaths; 2,200 hospital admissions and asthma-related emergency room visits; 19,000 asthma attacks, 30,000 cases of symptoms of respiratory symptoms in children, and 1.4 million lost school and work days.”
The new regulation is not yet in effect and is being fought by the oil and gas industry due to the cost of removing sulfur from their products, but you can reduce soot and smog in your environment today:
Turn off your car when you are waiting to pick up someone at school, home or work. It makes a big difference.
Be aware of No Burn Days in your area and refrain from using your fireplace or firepit when the air is already questionable.
Walk or ride your bike when it is feasible. The air quality isn’t the only thing that will improve if you get more exercise!
Carpool as much as possible. Fewer cars on the road means fewer particles in the air, of sulfur soot or other pollutants.
A bit of forethought is worth a lot in terms of air quality. You can improve your environment yourself every day.