Breathe easier, thanks to EPA

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We all can breathe a little easier because the voices of the public overcame the powerful efforts of Big Polluters. The Environmental Protection Agency released new standards for soot emissions that protect the health of our communities.

Coal-burning power plants are the leading source of soot pollution, which has serious impacts on Ohioans' health.

Soot is a mix of acid, metal and chemical droplets released when fossil fuels are burned. And soot particulates are incredibly small; less than one-hundredth the width of a hair. As a result, they enter deep into lungs and reach the bloodstream, allowing them to harm other organs.

Soot pollution already sends 9,700 people to hospitals yearly for air quality-related illnesses such as chronic bronchitis, asthma and irregular heartbeat. Another 20,000 heart attacks are caused annually from soot pollution.

The costs for medical care of these pollution-induced illnesses are at an alarming $100 billion annually without soot emissions standards.

By limiting the amount of soot being spewed into our air, the EPA rules not only keep us safe and healthy, but also encourage cities and states to invest in clean energy options that don't endanger the public health.

At least we can all breathe easier while sitting on that "fiscal cliff."

Thomas Collins, Garrettsville

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