New report says Tampa Bay area 2nd smoggiest area in Florida

That bill is called the TRAIN Act, or Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation, which would conduct cost-benefit analysis of 10 EPA regulations aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

At a news conference at Ballast Point Park in Tampa, Dr. Luis Maldonado, a pediatrician who works at USF, says he doesn't get through a day without seeing a patient who has some problem with his or breathing. "We have more and more breathing issues as the years go by. It's not a coincidence. "

Maldonado says that though asthma is often genetic, there's also a strong environmental component that creates breathing problems for adults who previously never showed such symptoms.

Phil Compton with the Sierra Club said that because of frequent rain in Florida over the summer, the region suffers from less ozone and smog than its neighbors to the north. But he says now is the time to be concerned. "When it doesn't rain, when the air is still, and our Florida sunshine converts the nitrogen oxide and the volatile organic compounds into ozone, we can have bad days."

Compton says over the years Tampa Electric has done commendable work in reducing their emission of pollution but said "we can't point a finger at TECO without pointing three at ourselves," scolding the community for not getting behind supporting mass transit projects.

"People here don't have the choices," adding the well known safety concerns when it comes to bicycling and/or walking.

Among the most interesting sections of Environment Florida's report is the inclusion of new data indicating that the problems with smog may be worse than previously suspected. The report says that's because the national health standard for smog pollution set in 2008 was set at a level that "scientists agree is not protective of public health."

  • USF's Dr. Luis Maldonado

Last week there were two days in the Tampa Bay area so smoggy that air pollution advisories were announced. And according to a new report released on Wednesday by the group Environment Florida, the region ranks second, only behind Pensacola, as far as having the smoggiest air in the Sunshine State.

But at least unlike other national reports, the Tampa Bay area doesn't rank among the worst communities in the country, in this case in terms of dirty air, according to the report, titled Danger in the Air: Unhealthy Air Days in 2010 and 2011.

Paul Rolfe with that group said he was disappointed by President Obama's decision over the Labor Day weekend to scrub a regulation that would have reduced concentrations of ground-level ozone, the main ingredient in smog, a powerful lung irritant that can cause asthma and other lung ailments. But he chose to look forward, urging Floridians to lobby their members of Congress to oppose a bill scheduled to be voted on this week that would require cost-benefit analysis of clean air regulations.

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