Maryland has the worst air on the East Coast and highest premature death rate in the nation. National Academy of Sciences data suggest that health impacts resulting from fossil fuels cost $73 per household per month in Maryland and are a drag on the economy. Yet conservative deniers and their self-serving, corporate backers hyperbolically insist that lowering the smog ceiling, mainly by limiting pollution from coal generators, would hurt Maryland's economy and therefore its families ("EPA moves to toughen smog limits," Nov. 26). When did human and environmental health become second to ingrown, economic perspectives? Does "preventive medicine" still ring true?

I just returned from soothing cleaner air in upstate New York and eagerly anticipate my return. I can feel the burn in my lungs from ground level ozone in Charm City. Seventy percent of it rolls in from out of state, so federal limits are the right place to start. The EPA's proposal to lower the smog limit from 75 to 65 parts per billion is an improvement, but the agency must not collapse just short of the finish line! Research confirms that health risks dramatically rise when smog pollution crests 60 ppb, and a smog limit of 60 ppb is very realizable in all parts of Maryland.

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Kevin Kriescher, Baltimore

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