Hampshire County Air Quality Gets An F

Northampton, Amherst, and the other towns in Hampshire county received a failing grade for air quality in a new report by the American Lung Association, a group run by doctors. “That means elderly people and people with asthma are at an increased risk of dying,” Casey Harvell told the Valley Post. She works in the Association's office in Waltham, Massachusetts. “It’s bad for the general public too.”

In China in 2010, some 1.2 million people died from air pollution, according to an article in the April 2 edition of the New York Times. China accounts for about 40 percent of global deaths from air pollution.

Indoor air pollution from mold, building materials, and other pollutants can make people sick, and shorten ones life expectancy. Information on how to clean up the air in one’s home, workplace, or school is at:

www.epa.gov/iaq

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This photo shows people at a rally to close a coal power plant last year in Holyoke. photo by Toxics Action Center

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Using dry, as opposed to "green," firewood and a wood stove that is approved by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can save lives, according to Tim Murphy of the Southwest Region Planning Commission in Keene. “We’re not saying not to burn wood, but there are ways to do it that minimize pollution,” he told the Keene Sentinel newspaper.

Riding a bicycle, walking, carpooling, or riding the train or a bus are some of the best ways to fight air pollution, Harvell said. Another is conserving electricity by hanging laundry to dry outside. Insulating and weatherstripping ones home is key, according to www.EfficiencyVermont.com.

Activists are fighting to close coal power plants in Holyoke and elsewhere in Massachusetts: www.CoalFreeMass.org.

Details on the Holyoke fight are at:

www.ValleyPost.org/2012/08/19/rally-against-coal-corporation-holyoke

The Lung Association’s new report is at www.StateOfTheAir.org. The report is based on data from the federal government, which tests 725 of the nation’s counties. Of those, 22 percent got an A in the report; 26 percent got an F.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is considering allowing incinerators to open in the state; now they’re banned. “People should contact him and tell him to continue the incinerator ban,” Harvell said. Patrick’s contact info is at:

www.mass.gov/governor/contact-us.html

The EPA will soon decide whether to clean the nation’s air. The deadline for public comment is June 13:

www.FightingForAir.org/take-action

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