EPA proposes lowering the ground level ozone standard

By Elizabeth Gentle - bio | email

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - The air you breath could be bad for your health.

The environmental protection agency is tightening its rules when it comes to ground-level ozone.

And they say Madison and Morgan counties are not projected to meet new standards.

The problem has been linked to a number of serious health problems from asthma to lung disease.

The EPA is requiring that counties clean up pollutants in the air.

Pollutants, better known as smog or ground-level ozone, fill the air and travel from one place to another.

"If there's a lot of pollution that develops in Birmingham, coal fire plants and we get a south wind typically late spring and summer it becomes a problem," said WAFF meteorologist Brad Travis.

Repeated exposure to ozone can damage sensitive vegetation, reduce tree growth, and pose serious health risks.

"Anytime you've got particulate matter, those kinds of things in the atmosphere that can cause irritants, you are taking it in and it can irritate the respiratory tract," said Huntsville physician Dr. Tim Howard.

The EPA is proposing stricter health standards for smog.

Under the plan, hundreds of counties will likely be in violation.

According to the EPA's web site, that includes several North Alabama counties, like Madison and Morgan, that must come into compliance with the EPA's regulations.

Howard says the smog we breath poses a very serious health threat, it dirties the air, clouds cities and drives up health care costs.

States in violation will be designated as "non attainment." That means if they don't come into compliance, that could result in higher energy cost, emissions testing and lower speed limits.

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