Philadelphia public health officials warn of ‘significant risks’ from air pollution
The Pennsylvania Department of Public Health warned of “significant risks” to public health from the effects of air pollution in a report released Thursday.
The report comes as a bill to prohibit the state from selling or taxing the sale of ozone-depleting products is expected to be debated in the state House of Representatives.
The bill, introduced in September, would ban the sale and tax of ozone products.
The Department of Environmental Protection has been working with Pennsylvania’s Department of Health on the issue since November, according to a release from the department.
In the report, released Thursday, Dr. Jennifer Smith, the department’s director of public health, said “potentially significant” health risks were associated with the use of ozone and other pollutants in Philadelphia.
The department estimates that ozone pollution is a factor in the deaths of more than 200,000 people in Pennsylvania each year.
Smith also said there is a “potential” for exposure to other pollutants from ozone and nitrogen dioxide in the air, including carbon monoxide and ozone-forming bacteria.
Ozone is the dominant pollutant in the atmosphere.
Nitrogen dioxide is a component of smoke and fog.
The combination of nitrogen dioxide and ozone causes cloud cover and contributes to air quality problems, such as asthma and cardiovascular disease.
The chemicals are also a major contributor to wildfires, which cause tens of thousands of deaths each year, according the EPA.
The department’s report says ozone is a major driver of asthma attacks and premature deaths, with nearly two-thirds of those deaths attributable to ozone.
The report also states that ozone-producing plants have been identified as a significant contributor to smog in the area.
It said the department is working with the Department of Labor, Environmental Protection Agency, the Pennsylvania Department on a plan to ensure that ozone is not used in the production of certain products and is used only in areas where it is required.
The plan, which is expected by the end of the year, is expected in response to the bill, the release said.
In addition, Smith said the report also noted that Pennsylvania has been “welling up” with a high volume of ozone pollution in recent years, but that the level of ozone has been declining and the state is now seeing a “healthy balance” between ozone levels and levels of other pollutants.
Smith said that the Department has been monitoring air quality for more than five years and that “this has not been a typical year.”
The department is also working with local health departments to ensure residents have adequate and safe ventilation, she said.
The city has been experiencing “the largest increase in ozone-related illnesses” in the country, she added.
The new report was the second to come out Thursday on ozone.
Earlier this month, the city issued a report warning of air quality risks in the city, including respiratory problems, breathing problems and other health issues linked to ozone pollution.
The agency is still working with community leaders to figure out how to make sure residents can breathe clean air.