New EPA restrictions could cause problems for Augusta, CSRA

The Natural Resources Defense Council and Physicians for Social Responsibility used EPA air quality data to make a list of the 20 worst cities with bad air quality. Georgia came in ninth, and South Carolina was right behind at 11th.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and Physicians for Social Responsibility used EPA air quality data to make a list of the 20 worst cities with bad air quality. Georgia came in ninth, and South Carolina was right behind at 11th.

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Wednesday, July 20, 2011

AUGUSTA -- Both Georgia and South Carolina are two of the most toxic states, according to a new report.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and Physicians for Social Responsibility used Environmental Protection Agency air quality data to make a list of the 20 worst. Georgia came in ninth, and South Carolina was right behind at 11th.

"It's no real surprise," said Paul DeCamp, the planning director for the Augusta-Richmond County Planning Commission.

Even though the report didn't specifically target this area, he says we've had our fair share of problems. But recently, he says things have gotten better.

"In the past few years, the ozone levels in our metro area have been trending downward, so they are currently within the limits of the current standards," he said.

But this area, particularly Augusta, could be in trouble if Washington adopts new standards.

"We expect those, once they are issued by EPA, those standards will be stricter than they have been and they are currently," he told News 12.

DeCamp says if the new, stricter regulations are passed, Augusta would fail air quality tests at spots across the county.

However, the EPA remains that current regulations aren't strict enough for your health.

Dr. Kitty Herlen is an assistant professor of respiratory therapy at Georgia Health Sciences University. She says sometimes you don't realize you're breathing unsafe air until it's too late.

"Particulates can do damage. They can cause irritation in the airways, they can lead to chronic cough, they can also exacerbate asthma or chronic bronchitis," she said.


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