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Environmental rollback will be costly

Actions of Congress and Trump to kill environmental rules will cost Americans billions in health care alone

Who pays the bill for environmental deregulation?

With the full backing of the oil, gas and mining industries and President Donald Trump, the Republican-controlled Congress used a rarely-invoked law to nullify environmental protections put in place by the Obama administration and began the process of rolling back additional regulations that tighten emissions from coal-burning power plants and reduce methane release into the environment ("House votes to overturn Obama rule on natural gas 'flaring,'" Feb. 3). According to industry advocates, these moves would be good for consumers and the economy. But one has to examine the true costs of reversing these proven environmental protections.

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The health costs of air pollution on asthma, chronic lung disease and cardiovascular disease are well known, but as reported in The Sun ("Link between air pollution and Alzheimer's," Feb. 5), there is now good evidence of a link between air pollution and Alzheimer's disease. Among older women carrying a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's, there was a three-fold likelihood of developing the disease among those exposed to high levels of air pollution.

It is hard to calculate the social, emotional and caregiver costs of Alzheimer's and other dementias which are enormous, but the economic burden is well known. It is estimated that in 2016 in the U.S., 5.4 million people had Alzheimer's, a figure that may triple by 2050. Total payments for health care, long-term care and hospice for people with Alzheimer's and other dementias were estimated to be $236 billion, two-thirds payed by Medicare and Medicaid. One can easily project the economic burden associated with even a slight increase in cases of Alzheimer's and other dementias related to environmental pollution.

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In the short run, the oil, gas and mining industries may see increased profits from the actions of President Trump and Congress, but in the long run we will all pay an enormous social and monetary price.

Beryl Rosenstein, Pikesville

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