Air questions need answers

Published 10:33 am Friday, June 26, 2009

How many warnings will it take? How many red flags have to go up before state officials take a long, hard look at the air quality in southern Ohio?

We deserve answers as to who is responsible for what appears to be significant pollution. We also deserve solutions that would curb this ever-growing problem.

The recent air pollution analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency was the final straw in a string of recent reports that show Lawrence Countians face significant health risks just by living and breathing here.

Called the National-Scale Air Toxics Assessment, the study is used to identify areas of the country where residents could face the greatest health threats from air pollution.

We are not trying to cause a panic and this certainly doesn’t mean that everyone who lives here will have health problems. In fact, many southern Ohioans will have very long, productive lives.

But these recent reports by various environmental monitoring agencies show that a clear problem exists.

Lawrence and Scioto counties were listed as having the 7th highest risk of cancer. Not in the state, in the entire United States.

These counties’ cancer risk was a whopping 612 per one million people, a statistic that may sound high but is nearly 18 times the national average.

This certainly doesn’t make sense for a region like ours that lacks the population and heavy industry of many of the metropolitan area.

We would like to see a comprehensive analysis of the air quality in Lawrence County, what specifically is causing this and what level of health hazards it actually poses to our citizens.

We have seen the warning signs. Now we have to make sure we don’t choke on them.