The EPA's recent decision to tighten limits on smog pollution is commendable and necessary ("Holding one's breath, GOP style," Dec. 8).

Maryland has some of the worst air pollution on the eastern seaboard, with 86 percent of residents living in areas where smog pollution exceeds the EPA's current air quality standards.

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With the new, stronger standards from the EPA, we can expect this percentage to increase. We need to address air pollution, which degrades our health and productivity and harms low-income communities, and we should support the lowest possible limits on smog pollution.

Smog is a scourge to public health and damaging to the local economy. It results in lost productivity among Baltimore's working population due to asthma or cardiovascular disease worsened by breathing polluted air. Both conditions cause missed work and school days.

Air pollution also presents a social justice challenge. Low-income residents are disproportionately affected by smog pollution's negative health consequences due the siting of polluting power plants and highways near poor areas and the resulting higher rates of asthma among that demographic.

This compounds the challenges people from low-income communities face because how can you improve your economic prospects in chronic poor health?

If we are serious about improving public health and economic opportunity in Baltimore, strengthening smog pollution limits is critical. When the EPA holds a public comment period on the new regulations, Baltimore residents must push for the strongest standards possible to improve our public health and economic opportunities.

Adam Windram, Baltimore

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