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No Room to Breathe: Health Effects of Criteria Air Pollutants from Power Plants


No Room to Breathe Project


The Problem

Thousands of deaths every year in the United States are associated with particulate air pollution, even at levels well below that which the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe. It is associated with increased incidence of illnesses, increased absence from work and school, decreased lung function, and increased hospital visits. There seems to be no threshold for the effect on mortality, and some studies even demonstrate a relationship between air pollution and cancer. The dominant sources of this pollution are industrial processes, solid waste disposal and fossil fuel combustion in energy production and transportation.

Tropospheric (ground level) ozone, from such sources as transportation, fuel combustion, chemical manufacturing and solvents, is associated with respiratory symptoms such as cough and chest pain. Many studies also show increased hospital admissions associated with higher ozone levels. Like particulates, ozone causes adverse health effects at levels well below the current National Ambient Air Quality (NAAQS) standards.

Asthmatics, persons who exercise and work outdoors, and people with chronic lung and heart disease are at greater risk from air pollution. There is increasing evidence that air pollution combinations are even worse than individual pollutants.


The Project Literature

No Room to Breathe: Health Effects of Criteria Air Pollutants from Power Plants
Dr. Jeff Dickey, Winter 2000 - A review of the recent medical literature concerning emissions of criteria pollutants (NOx, SO2, PM, and O3) derived from power plants which burn oil and coal.

No Room to Breathe: Air Pollution and Primary Care Medicine
Dr. Jeff Dickey, Fall 1998 - A review of air pollutants and sources, health effects, and medical management - a wealth of information, with links to sites for more information.

MMT - Manganese in Gasoline: Potential Public Health Effects
A position paper of GBPSR by Gina Solomon MD MPH.


Grand Rounds Presentations - Dr. Dickey is available for Grand Round presentations on Environmental Asthma. To schedule a presentation, contact us at psrmabo@igc.org.

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