2 FM quick reads on air pollution
1. Half of Americans Breathe Unhealthy Air
Nearly half of Americans live in areas with unhealthy air, according to a study by the American Lung Association. The 15th annual State of the Air report stated that while overall particle pollution continues to decline at a national level, levels of ozone were higher than in the previous year's report.
In fact, over 147 million people live in counties with unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution, according to the American Lung Association. Of those, 27.8 million live in 17 counties. The top five most polluted cities in terms of ozone, year-round particle pollution and short-term particle pollution are all located in California: Los Angeles-Long Beach, Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, Bakersfield, Fresno-Madera and Sacramento-Roseville.
Air pollution has been linked to a variety of health issues, such as asthma, cardiovascular harm, increased susceptibility to infections and more. When air-pollution levels are high, the American Lung Association recommends people avoid high-exertion activities outdoors.
Tips for ways to help reduce pollution on action days when ozone levels are expected to be high include: conserving electricity, refueling vehicles after dusk, limiting engine idling, and trying to avoid using chemicals — from housekeeping to lawn maintenance, or at least keeping their evaporation to a minimum. When particle pollution is expected to be high, avoiding burning materials and using gas-powered equipment is recommended.
To read the report, go to www.stateoftheair.org
2. Is Now a Good Time to Lock In Energy Prices?
Today's tip comes to us from consultant Lindsay Audin, President of EnergyWiz. It's about considering whether now might be a good time to contract to lock in long-term power prices. Even with the economy seemingly improving, there still may be a lot of volatility in energy prices due to an EPA regulation currently tied up in the courts.
The regulation, originally announced in July 2011, is called the Cross State Air Pollution Rule, or CSAPR. The rule was supposed to take effect in January, 1, 2012, but a coalition of industry groups successfully petitioned a federal appeals court to block the regulation, which it did just before the new year. And no further ruling is expected until at least the summer of 2012. This regulation would mandate coal-fired plants to shut down temporarily to be retrofitted with pollution controls. Others would be closed permanently. EPA estimates the regulation will prevent 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 heart attacks and 400,000 cases of asthma - a savings of $280 billion a year in health benefits.
So while uncertainty over this regulation's fate remains, energy prices may fluctuate in the short-term, as suppliers try to predict how the court will rule. If the court sends the bill back for retooling, it'll essentially die, says Audin.
So, even though gas and electricity prices are now at an all-time low, according to Audin, it may behoove facility managers to lock in prices, if for no other reason than to make energy budgeting easier. If you can lock in reasonable pricing for several years, it may be worth it in that you're at least paying for budget stability.
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