3 Ways Ohio is a Sooty Mess


by Laura Michelle Burns

In June, the EPA unveiled a new proposal to toughen the standards on soot. These standards will impact the national air quality, benefiting many people’s health. As always, there are those who oppose these new standards. This is an election year, and with industrial lobbyists attempting to garner support wherever they can, you can bet that this will be an interesting battle. A battle that is long overdue.

Soot is everywhere. We tend to think of it as limited to vehicle emissions or power plants, but in reality, the fires that have been blazing out West carry plenty of soot. The EPA has also brought into consideration the soot that accompanies wood burning fires and grills. This is so important because it is comprised of minute particles that enter our bodies through the air and then lodge so far down in our lungs that we cannot just cough or breathe them out. On a daily basis, over 1/3 of our nation’s population is threatened by the health hazard that soot brings upon our children, the elderly and those in poor health.

Why is soot such a danger? It’s due in part to the complex structure of these delicate particles. In the very center of each particle there is a carbon core. If you’ve been following the Moms Clean Air Force blog, you know that carbon pollution itself is dangerous to our health and one of the main reasons why we have engaged so enthusiastically in this need to convince our government to set stronger air quality standards. Just outside of the core is a layer of more organic carbon compounds. Double whammy. Then a layer of sulfate and nitrates, heavy metals and toxins. So, when you inhale soot, you inhale a multitude of toxic particles, not just exhaust.

Ohioans are impacted by soot in 3 different ways:

  1. Soot is an a major irritant for those with asthma. Ohio’s asthma rates are among the worst in the country, with more sufferers added daily.
  2. Soot that is the result of diesel fuel burning is a significant carcinogen. According to the Clean Air Task Force, “Occupational health studies link cancers, particularly lung cancer to diesel exhaust exposures. Traffic studies suggest increased rates of respiratory and cardiovascular disease and risk of premature death near busy urban streets or highways.”
  3. Cardiac arrest. The American Lung Association estimated that if we were able to tighten the standards on soot emissions, there could be a reduction of over 2,000 heart attacks (nationwide) on a yearly basis!

Ohioans shouldn’t waste time getting our message to our leaders in government. We don’t want to add any more reasons to be in a state of pollution. We need road monitoring systems along our busy highways. We need a standards to be set because power companies and politicians cannot be expected to do the right thing and bear the responsibility all on their own. We need this for us now, and we need it for our children’s future.

Please support strong limits on harmful soot emissions


Related Stories:

Does Diesel Exposure Lead to Obesity?

The Godzilla In The Room: Climate Change

The Republican Fight for Dirtier Air


Photo credit: Moms Clean Air Force


Rose Balcom
Rose Balcom4 years ago

Heavy industry needs to clean up its act!

Debbie Wood
Debbie Wood4 years ago

I grew up in Ohio in the 1960's, when the Cuyahoga River burned. That event spurred a real interest in our area, about 60 miles east of Cleveland, to start recyling programs and environmental groups. I lived about 5 minutes from Lake Erie. It looked and smelled like a sewer. I have a permenant ear infection from swimming in Lake Erie as a child. Every time it rains, or I get any water in or near my ears, I get a fungel infection, and a doc up there told me it came from the lake. I left there in 1973, haven't returned, heard from relatives the lake is cleaner. You couldn't see the skyline in Cleveland in those days. Please Ohio, don't let your polititions ruin any progress you have made. We only have one world, we need to take care of it so it will take care of us.

Karen Friedman
karen Friedman4 years ago

It is because we have John Kasich who is so pro industry that he doesn't care about Ohio's citizens just about big industry like the rest of his party. And Boehner is also from Ohio, monkey see monkey do.

Karen Friedman
karen Friedman4 years ago

It is because we have John Kasich who is so pro industry that he doesn't care about Ohio's citizens just about big industry like the rest of his party. And Boehner is also from Ohio, monkey see monkey do.

Leia P.
Leia P.4 years ago

oh great. and i live here

Troy G.
Troy Grant4 years ago

Are red states more polluted?

Jamie Clemons
Jamie Clemons4 years ago

If the politicians would have the guts to do it they could pass some legislation that would require all power plants to clean up their act. With the right anti-pollution devices installed they could drastically reduce the toxic smog they are belching into the atmosphere. But you can bet the industry will fight tooth and nail against it.

Nicole Weber
Nicole W.4 years ago

petition signed~

Grace Adams
Grace Adams4 years ago

You only get what you pay for. It might be cheaper to buy pollution captured by coal-fired utilities either before or after burning the coal than to pay for extra health care and disability from humans breathing the mess. It might be cheaper to pay the full cost of a now coal-fired utility to buy a brand new wind power or solar power system to replace their coal-fired steam turbine than to pay for the extra health care and disability from humans breathing the mess.

Jeffrey H.
Jeffrey H.4 years ago

Pennsylvania has Ohio beat in all major pollution catagories, including soot/airborne particulate matter.

Pennsylvania is the first and only place to legally allow the direct discharge of toxic acid frack soup blowback 'water" containing carcinogens, mutagens, teratogens, and radioactive solids into the streams and rivers where communities downstream pump it out, chlorinate it (making it thousands of times more toxic), and consume it.

You can't beat that assholishness -- our teabagger governor Tom Corbett and the Republican-dominated state legislature set the stupidity and irresponsibility bar so high that no one can possibly top that!