Smog Numbers Give Page County an "F"

By: Jarrod Aldom
By: Jarrod Aldom

The American Lung Association estimates nearly half
the nation is at risk from smog in a new report released Thursday. We
examined if there's a problem with smog in the Valley, and what that means
to you.

The American Lung Association's study grades areas of
the country for smog concentration. One place in the valley that got
particularly low marks was Page County, which got an "F." But
the Department of Environmental Quality here doesn't agree.

"The data appears to be correct," says
Sharon Foley, Air Permit Manger for the DEQ. "However, we disagree
with the interpretation of the data. The Lung Association appears to be
using a different set of criteria in arriving at their score."

Foley says the association is using a much tougher
criteria than the federal guidelines, combining ozone or smog
concentrations with other fine particles in the air.

Area # Orange Days Grade
Page County 12 F
Arlington 35 F
Los Angeles 40 F

The DEQ also takes exception as to how very different
areas are lumped together. By their standards, Page County, Arlington, and
Los Angeles receive all receive the "F" grade. But the number of
orange days in a year, or days when pollution might be unhealthy for
at-risk groups, is much less in Page County than at the other two

"To suggest that the air quality in Page County
would be the same as a highly populated area like Arlington is somewhat
extreme," says Foley

And area doctors agree.

"People in Virginia and especially the Valley I think should worry
some, but not necessarily as much as some people who feel the sky is
falling might lead you to believe," says Dr. Stephen Phillips,
Director of RMH Corporate Health.

Foley says most of the pollution here comes from
sources outside of Virginia. She says weather conditions have a lot to do
with air quality. Dr. Phillips says pollution is not a problem here now.
But he says if the Valley's population continues to increase and we don't
get away from burning coal as fuel, medical problems will increase as

50 North Main Street Harrisonburg, VA 22801 540-433-9191 - Switchboard 540-433- 4028 - Fax 540-433-2700 - News Fax

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