Bad air is bad news for state

Published 9:45 pm Monday, December 22, 2008

If you’ve ever thought the air in many of the state’s biggest cities was potentially hazardous, you are correct, at least according to a recent study released by environmentalists. They say air in Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile and Huntsville contains enough dangerous chemicals to potentially endanger the health of thousands of people.

The report, compiled by the Conservation Alabama Foundation, found excessive levels of toxic substances in the air. Of 15 chemicals that were studied, data showed levels in the air that were “far beyond” safety limits established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, he said.

Thirteen of those substances have been linked to cancer, but the study didn’t say that air quality could cause cancer. The study focused on chemicals including arsenic, benzene, chloroform, formaldehyde and naphthalene.

Executive director Adam Snyder told the Associated Press, “Our goal with this report is to elevate the issue so something can be done with it. We want the state to do something to clean up the air.” We believe our state does need to clean up our air, but we must have a balanced approach to what we do. We cannot simply just decide to eliminate these chemicals and close down the companies that release these emissions. If that were to happen, numerous people across the state could lose their jobs.

Also, agriculture could be somewhat responsible for it too because farms may use certain “hazardous” chemicals in fertilizers and other products. It would be impossible for us to eliminate these chemicals right now or our agriculture industry could fail without the chemicals.

The Conservation Alabama Foundation wants the state environmental commission to enact rules that require the monitoring of air in communities, and that is a good idea. We need additional research to see if our air quality can cause health conditions such as cancer, but we must do our best to improve our air quality.