Yesterday, the EPA announced that it is considering reducing the allowable concentration of ozone pollution (smog, not to be confused with smug), a known contributor to many respiratory problems.

For many metro areas, the news is roughly equivalent to trying to get blood out of a turnip. For example, none of the Northeast Ohio counties surrounding Cleveland are in compliance with current levels of ozone pollution, so is it reasonable to assume that they can just go ahead and comply with new, more stringent thresholds?

Given the scattershot range of possibilities offered up by the EPA, which include simply maintaining current acceptable levels at the standard going forward, one is unable to clearly decipher just what they’re trying to accomplish. Is it a game?

Frank O’Donnell, President of Clean Air Watch, is troubled by the possibility of the standard going unaltered and commented that, “[current standards] are outdated and don’t reflect recent science.”

I am hopefully that any standards-tightening measures are accompanied by more than the usually threats, because having lived in the region for many years I can tell you point blank: Indians fans and Lake Erie fisherman aren’t polluting for the simple joy of wrecking the planet. They don’t want their kids to be asthmatic any more than anyone else, and they don’t have a surplus of eco-consciousness that they can just dump onto the problem.

Although I hate to ever find myself in agreement with the Editorial Board of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution at any time on any subject, I have to agree that ozone is an issue we’ve got to fix. (Although I also think it’s a sad, tell tale sign that everything bad happening under King George II is because he’s the anti-Christ, and anything good that happens is because the individual agency “didn’t allow politics and industry influence to trump sound regulatory judgment”.) Either way, too many young people are turning up with too many respiratory diseases across too wide an area for the issue to go ignored as coincidental. This is an actual man-made problem, and mankind can fix it.

What’s my solution? Adapt smokestack style technology and apply it to each vehicle on the road. It’s too simple to ever work, but what would happen if a car’s exhaust system was fitted with a filtering tip? It’d have to be something easily removable, washable, and reusable, but given the technology of the day, I don’t see any reason why some young entrepreneur out there couldn’t make a fortune off the idea and why we couldn’t all reap the profits in a clean air dividend.

More traditional approaches to ozone control include paying attention to the weather since carbon emissions generated on hot, muggy days are more likely to combine with other pollutants in the atmosphere to form smog. Motorists should wait until after dusk to crack the gas cap at the filling station. Industrial managers should also consider severe limits on emissions on those days, since sunlight is a required component to the formation of smog. Emissions released at night are apparently more likely to disperse harmlessly.

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