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      Ozone pollution still a concern; SC showing improvement

      Environmentally Challenged: By Brian Troutman

      We've all heard the debates. We've all heard conservatives make the case that many ozone issues as well as global warming are fictional. We've also heard the other side -- a story about how air pollutants continue to deplete the ozone and contribute to global warming.

      Regardless of where you may stand on the global warming debate, I think what is consistent is that most people agree air pollution is dangerous and should be regulated. I can't think of anyone who likes to look at skylines coated in smog or smell the stench of the local factory in the morning.{}

      More importantly, I can't think of anyone who wants to battle common health concerns and diseases associated with air pollution -- cancer, emphysema, asthma and cystic fibrosis.

      It's for that reason the EPA is getting all states and areas in the country consistent with the 2008 air quality standards. While scientists and politicians debate global warming, the effects of air pollution on human health are well-documented.

      According to statistics from the Center for Disease Control (CDC),{}More than half (53%) of people with asthma had an asthma attack in 2008. More children (57%) than adults (51%) had an attack, and 185 children and 3,262 adults died from asthma in 2007.

      One of the main causes for an asthma attack, according to the CDC, is exposure to air pollutants.

      In 2008, the EPA set new smog standards at 75 parts per billion. Since, the agency has been working with states and tribes and following an open public process that included a 45-day public comment period. As a result, 45 areas were found not compliant with the 2008 standards. Three were found not compliant with the less strict 1997 smog standards.

      Good news for those of us in South Carolina is that the EPA's follow-through on ground level ozone pollution has shown favorable results in the Palmetto State. According to data collected by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) in 2009, South Carolina experienced favorable summertime weather conditions and was able to report concentrations of ozone below the level of the standards throughout the state.

      Between the years of 2000 and 2008, according to DHEC, the number of times the state exceeded the 75 ppb standard decreased by 81 percent.

      * Environmentally Challenged is the blog of ABC News 4 New Media Manager Brian Troutman. It is op-ed in nature and provides Troutman's thoughts on the environment, environmental issues and conservation. If you would like to reach Troutman, you can do so by email at btroutman@abcnews4.com.

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