- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Smog
sends 53,000 people to the hospital each summer and triggers more than
6 million asthma attacks in the eastern United States, according to estimates
released on Tuesday by clean air activists.
- Smog created in the summer is called ground-level ozone,
the main culprit in what environmentalists believe is a public health crisis
generated by coal-fired power plants.
- "Despite popular impressions, this is not just a
Northeast problem," said Conrad Schneider, technical and policy coordinator
for the Clean Air Task Force (CATF).
- "From Texas to Illinois and from Georgia to Maine,
and everywhere in between, people are admitted to the hospital for serious,
prolonged respiratory distress due to ozone smog."
- The national campaign against dirty air is a joint project
of CATF, the National Environmental Trust and U.S. Public Interest Research
- In breaking down the numbers in its report, the groups
highlighted the national scope of the problem by noting Texas had 660,000
asthma attacks, New York more than 500,000 and Washington, D.C., 800 hospital
admissions due to summer smog.
- For years, Northeastern states have sought remedies to
cut air pollution drifting into their region from Midwestern and Southern
power plants. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last year
told 22 states to cut smog-forming pollution from the plants by around
85 percent below 1990 levels.
- A number of Midwestern states in turn sued the government,
winning a court ruling to delay implementation of EPA's plan.
- Curbing pollution is at the heart of high-level talks
between EPA and eight major coal-burning electric utilities.
- In July, EPA said it suspected utility plant operators
had expanded generation capacity - and emissions - without seeking new
permits required under routine maintenance provisions of the 1990 Clean
- The eight utilities could face costs running into the
billions of dollars to correct the problem, pending the outcome of negotiations.
- Separately, New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer
announced in September plans to sue 17 utilities for clean air offenses.
Action on Spitzer's threat was expected this autumn.