ASTHMA: New Emission Standards Focus on Health
To reduce the escalating number of asthma cases across the nation, President Clinton announced yesterday changes in emission standards for trucks and sports utility vehicles, as well as a reduction in the sulfur content in gasoline. The changes will reduce air pollution caused by cars' nitrogen oxides emissions by nearly 75% and will cut car-produced soot 80% by 2030, the AP/Washington Times reports. EPA officials say the changes will raise the price of an SUV by about $200 and add $.02 to a gallon of gas. Experts contend that savings in public health costs will outweigh the additional expense by nearly five-to-one. The EPA estimates that the new standards will prevent 260,000 asthma attacks and 173,000 cases of respiratory illnesses in children each year. The EPA also contends that 4,300 premature deaths and 10,200 cases of bronchitis will be eliminated. Clinton said, "It will be the most dramatic improvement in air quality since the catalytic converter was first introduced a quarter of a century ago" (12/22).
Formally announcing the new standards at Washington D.C.'s Maury Elementary School yesterday, the president was introduced by school nurse Gloria Hackman, who noted that more than 5 million children throughout the nation suffer from asthma. She is one of thousands of school nurses who teach an "Open Airways" class for children with asthma developed by the American Lung Association and the EPA. Attributing asthma as the leading cause of school absenteeism, Hackman said, "[Students] come in every day, coughing or wheezing, especially in the wintertime. I think the pollution in the air has a lot to do with it. You've just got more and more cars on the road" (Pan, Washington Post, 12/22).