New Evidence of Ozone Health Harms in the Air You’re Breathing This Week

by jim on June 26, 2012

As of 10 am on Tuesday, air quality monitors in Grapevine, Midlothian, Frisco and the Redbird area of Dallas had already recorded "Level Orange" concentrations of smog, including a 106 ppb reading in Grapevine. As late as 9 pm last night, ozone levels were still in the 90's in Weatherford.  It's going to be another long, hot day of bad air throughout the DFW area. Which means they'll be people suffering form breathing that bad air. Today there's new evidence that that suffering includes heart attacks and strokes caused directly by ozone pollution.

EPA Toxicologists at Research Triangle, North Carolina exposed willing subjects to clean air, or to air containing 0.3 parts per million ozone. On the high-ozone day, volunteers inhaled the same cumulative dose that they would have received over eight hours in a place that exceeded the U.S. federal limit of 75 parts per billion for that length of time. Just like we've been doing here in DFW for the past three days. The results of the study showed ozone is causing acute — and even chronic — risk for heart attacks in the people who breathe it.

Blood levels of inflammatory agents increased, sometimes even doubling, after the subject's ozone exposure, and this increase could last more than a day. High ozone exposure also triggered subtle changes in heart rate variability, indicating a higher risk of arrhythmias. Ozone also altered levels of several proteins involved in blood clotting.

A decade ago the head of the Texas environmental agency stated that Ozone was a "benign pollutant" and argued against lowering the national standard for exposure to it. Last year, Texas state government again fought a lowering of the ozone standard, saying there was no proof of harms at levels below 85 parts per billion despite an independent panel of scientists saying there was. The more we know about how ozone impacts the human body the more we see that even levels considered "safe" a few years ago have far-reaching harmful effects.

75, 85, 105 parts per billion. These are just numbers from monitors. Behind them are real people having asthma attacks, heart attacks, and strokes. This is why it's important to win the battle with DFW's chronic smog. This is why it's a public health issue that's too important to be left up to a group of political appointees in Austin beholden to industry that too often pretends there's not even a problem.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: