Campaign to clean Northeast Ohio air finds room for improvement

Clean Air & Water for Cleveland Families campaign finds the dirt on our air quality, and offers solution

In 2004, The Sierra Club launched a new Clean Air & Water for Cleveland Families campaign to highlight the fact that Cleveland "still has some of the dirtiest air in the countrydue in large part to coal-fired power plants. In the campaign's research, they found the following facts and figures, as well as a way of getting involved in cleaning them up:

  • Air pollution from FirstEnergy's Eastlake, Ashtabula, and Lakeshore coal-burning power plants causes an estimated annual 272 premature deaths; 5,292 asthma attacks; 180 cases of chronic bronchitis; 519 cases of acute bronchitis; 5,631 upper respiratory cases; 5,689 lower respiratory cases; and 46,317 missed work days in northeast Ohio. (Source: MSB Energy Associates/David Schoengold, for the Clean Air Task Force, March 2004)
  • Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, and Summit counties all fail federal health standards for smog. (Source: USEPA)
  • According to American Lung Association (ALA), the "at-risk population" for smog in northeast Ohio includes over 615,000 children ages 14 and under, and over 418,000 adults ages 65 and older. The area is also home to more than 61,500 children and over 163,000 adults who suffer from asthma, and more than 99,000 sufferers of chronic bronchitis. (Source)
  • For the first time, the ALA State of the Air report included county-level report cards on particle pollution (PM). Exposure to particle pollution increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, ER visits for respiratory ailments and cardiovascular disease, and the risk of death. According to the report, Cleveland is ranked 10th in the United States of all cities for particle pollution, while Cuyahoga County is the 13th most particle polluted county in the nation. Cuyahoga County is also ranked as the county with the worst particle pollution in Ohio. (Source)
  • A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine reports that Cleveland is second to Los Angeles for PM10 levels, and that the level of PM10 is associated with the rates of death from all causes and from cardiovascular and respiratory causes. (Source: The New England Journal of Medicine, 12/14/00).
  • Mercury pollution is a problem in our area too, and coal-burning power plants are the largest single source of mercury in the country. FirstEnergy's Eastlake, Ashtabula, and Lakeshore coal plants dump an estimated annual 656 pounds of this dangerous neurotoxin into our air, and subsequently our water, every year. This is a lot when you consider that 1/70th of a teaspoon of mercury is enough to contaminate a 20-acre lake. The mercury ends up in the rain and then in the water and the fish. The National Wildlife Federation conducted rain sampling in Cleveland at the end of last year and found that Cleveland's rain/snow has mercury levels that are on average 8 times greater than what the EPA considers safe. This was the highest rate they found of all the sampling they've done in the Midwest.
  • Every river, lake, and stream in Ohio is under a fish consumption advisory due to mercury pollution, and the EPA and the CDC have issued warnings that women who might become pregnant, women who are pregnant or nursing, and young children should avoid eating certain kinds of fish entirely due to the dangers of mercury. When ingested by eating fish, mercury can cause developmental delays and neurological problems in fetuses and young children. The EPA estimates that 630,000 newborns each year in the U.S. are at risk for such problems due to mercury exposure in the womb.

The Clean Air & Water for Cleveland Families Campaign is a grassroots effort aimed at getting FirstEnergy to reduce emissions from their three coal-burning plants here in NE Ohio by installing modern best available pollution control technology on them.

As of today, concerned citizens of Northeast Ohio have signed 838 postcards asking FirstEnergy to clean up their stacks. Sierra Club will present as many postcards as it can, with a goal of at least 1000, to FirstEnergy. If you would like to sign a postcard or are willing to ask some of your friends or family sign them, call Jennifer Lenhart at Sierra Club, Northeast Ohio Chapter, 216-631-6150 or .

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3500 Lorain Avenue, Suite 301, Cleveland OH 44113
Cuyahoga Bioregion
(216) 961-5020
Copyright 2002-2004



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