About Air and Water

Friday, July 20, 2007

Breathless - August Edition of D Magazine

By Terri Meza and Faith Chatham - July 20, 2007
The August edition of D Magazine has a great article on air quality in North Texas. The article is titled "Breathless".

Why Our Air is Bad, How We Can Fix It - D Magazine - Thursday, July 19, 2007

Toyin Sosanya will never forget the day her 2-year-old daughter almost suffocated. Little Myra started gasping for no apparent reason. The gasps persisted in the local emergency room, even after the doctors—and Toyin, a pharmacist—suspected asthma and gave Myra a dose of albuterol through an inhaler. No effect. They put the inhaler to her mouth and tried again, then a third time. They continued this as they loaded Myra back in the car and sped to Children’s Medical Center, where doctors, fearing for her life, gave Myra an IV of epinephrine, or adrenaline, which finally returned her breathing to normal.

But soon after, Myra’s twin sister, Tyra, developed asthma. Their older sister, Alexis, then 4, already had it. Toyin missed a lot of work ushering her children between hospital visits, hoping to figure out what caused the attacks. Finally, Toyin got her answer: the doctor said the attacks had to do with Dallas’ poor air quality.

“Maybe you should consider moving out of Texas,” the doctor told her, “somewhere where the air is better.”

Texas is a notoriously filthy state. We emit more carbon dioxide than any other state in the country. In fact, we emit more carbon dioxide, 1.5 trillion pounds a year, than all but six nations in the world.

But ozone is a bigger problem. Cars, trucks, and power plants emit the nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons that become ozone in the atmosphere. Dallas-Fort Worth’s ozone pollution is the seventh worst in the nation, according to the American Lung Association’s 2007 “State of the Air” report—which is worse than we fared in 2006, when Dallas-Fort Worth ranked eighth. Our ozone is worse than cities with larger populations such as New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

Ozone pollution scars the lungs and leaves them susceptible to respiratory infection. Children are particularly vulnerable, especially asthmatic children. This partly explains why Children’s Medical Center Dallas has one of the busiest pediatric emergency rooms in the nation. Its No. 1 cause for admittance is asthma attacks, which have become so frequent that the hospital has an asthma treatment room in the ER. During the summer, when ozone is at its worst, the brightly lit room is strewn with toys and filled with children receiving medicated aerosols through oxygen masks. The Allergy and Immunology Clinic at Children’s fields 60 to 70 requests for new patients a week. And there are nearly 60,000 estimated asthmatic children in Dallas County..continued

I'm the only person in my family who has asthma. I didn't develop it until after I moved back to the DFW area when I was in my forties. This paragraph caught my eye!
...Gauderman and his team found what might be a link between air pollution and new asthma. That is to say, not only does air pollution trigger an attack in a child with asthma, but air pollution may actually cause asthma in a child who didn’t have it. If true, this may explain why some children develop asthma even if no one in their family has it, even though it’s largely considered a hereditary condition.

The author points out something that citizens really need to comprehend.

The Bad Guys in This Fight Will Surprise You
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is the environmental agency for the state. It is difficult to imagine another environmental agency that cares less about the environment.

Consider its “smog plan.” Dallas is, as you now know, a dirty place to live. The Environmental Protection Agency knows this and has told TCEQ to find a way to make Dallas cleaner or the EPA will reserve the right to withhold Dallas’ federal transportation dollars come 2010—as much as $400 million. So TCEQ spent the past three years creating a plan, holding meetings to debate the plan, and then tweaking it. The final draft was presented in May.

But the plan as it stands now doesn’t actually get North Texas in compliance with the EPA. It gets us close, and the EPA in similar situations in the past has said close is good enough. But this time, the EPA’s regional director, Richard Greene, sent the state a memo in late May saying he doubted TCEQ’s plan would cut it. He doubted whether it would get federal approval. The reason: TCEQ had failed to consider the impact of all those diesel engines running drilling equipment in the Barnett Shale, the natural gas field that stretches from the Mid Cities to west of Fort Worth. Nevertheless, the three TCEQ commissioners voted to approve the plan, and the commission’s chair, Kathleen Hartnett White, wrote an op-ed in the Dallas Morning News expressing her “confidence” in this “aggressive” policy and its intent to meet federal air standards...

(Requires D Magazine subscription or guest pass to view complete article)

While visiting D/Magazine we recommend that you review their archive on the Trinity River Project which can be found under "Environment and Development".

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