Fire & Smoke: Locals Urge EPA to Set Stronger Smog Standards

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ARLINGTON -- Firefighters fought an early morning tire fire in Midlothian Thursday.  There were no injuries, no buildings in danger, but there was plenty of smoke.

Perhpas it was a coincidence that folks came together in Arlington to try to clear the air in DFW.

“At age 6, I spent a week in the hospital because of asthma,” one speaker said.

Rebecca Wooters is President of the North Texas Board of the American Lung Association, but she spoke as a mother Thursday.  “When [my son] was 2, he nearly died because of a near-fatal asthma attack. He was blue, unresponsive -- the doctor said, I don’t think my son is going to make it.”

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing new standards on ozone or smog.  Right now, the limit is 75 parts per billion in an 8-hour span. Some folks want it as low as 60 parts per billion -- as it might be linked to health problems.

“The Dallas-Fort Worth area has the highest rate of pediatric asthma in the State of Texas,” said Dr. Neil Carman, Clean Air Program Director with the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club.

Now the EPA is hitting three cities to get public input.

“We have to issue a final standard by October 1st of this year,” Alison Davis, Senior Advisor for Public Affairs with the office of Air Quality Planning and Standards at the EPA, said.

Atmospheric Scientist, wife, and mother Cherelle Blazer says bad air in Mansfield almost caused her to lose her family.

“ When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband had an acute asthma attack and went into a coma. The stress of it made me go into premature labor,” she explained. “There was just this horrifying moment where I realized I could lose my husband and my child.”

Others think the standards won’t help and will scare businesses away.

“The Texas job engine is too critical to the State and National economy to be decimated by EPA’s attempts to advance a prohibitively expensive, feel-good, agenda with no demonstrated health benefits,” Attorney Christina Wisdom representing the Texas Association of Manufacturers said.

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