Effects of proposed pollution standards on health, economy

Downtown Youngstown, Aug. 24, 2015

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Though ozone and other pollutants haven’t been a major issue in the Mahoning Valley for years, the standards could be tougher to meet soon. New E.P.A. regulations are expected to be released later this week that would go into effect October 1st.

“They are proposing to lower the standards from current 75 parts per billion to 65 to 70 parts per billion,” Tara Cioffi with the Mahoning-Trumbull Air Pollution Control Agency said.

The Youngstown City Health Department’s Air Pollution Control agency measures ozone at three locations in Mahoning and Trumbull Counties. Right now, the area is well within attainment standards, but Cioffi said there are still public health concerns.

“We’ve really seen increases in asthma and respiratory diseases and problems associated with ozone creating those health problems,” Cioffi said.

Not everyone agrees such tough new standards are needed, fearing thousands of jobs will be lost and billions will come out of the economy.

Already, groups like the National Association of Manufacturers are mounting a campaign to stop the E.P.A.”What that means is, we can’t expand any of our factories without shutting down other factories. Its a significant issue for the economic development of the state and the jobs we create”, says association president Eric Burkland.

Valley Congressman Bill Johnson says there needs to be a balance between public health and economic development. “The ability to control the ozone. And these new levels. Without taking into consideration the economic impacts. That’s exactly what we’re not doing. We’re not striking a balance,” Bill Johnson said.

But at this point, Cioffi tells me local businesses and communities that don’t meet the new standards will likely have until 2025 to do so.

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