Breathe deep — or don’t

Published 7:37 pm Saturday, May 9, 2009

Walk outside and take a deep breath. If you live just about anywhere in Suffolk, one of the first things you will notice is the fresh air. In fact, Suffolk prides itself on its country-fresh surroundings.

The American Lung Association, however, disagrees with that assessment. According to the ALA, that long deep breath you just took could be harmful to your health. After all, the organization recently announced that the city earned a grade of “F” when it comes to ozone-related air quality.

At least the city has good company in the ranks of Virginia communities that fail to provide healthy air for their citizens to breathe. Fifteen out of 20 Virginia communities monitored for the study, which collected data from 2005 to 2007, also failed the test. Four received “C” ratings; none scored higher than a “B.”


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In other words, there’s pretty much nowhere in Virginia where it’s safe to breathe. If that observation strikes you as a bit overwrought, wait until you see the other shoe that’s falling: Even though many of the failing grades are the result of recently strengthened EPA standards for acceptable levels of ozone —standards that were beefed up as a result of an ALA lawsuit against the EPA — the Lung Association still is not satisfied. In fact, ALA leaders are clamoring for standards that are even more stringent.

An official with the organization admitted to a Suffolk News-Herald reporter this week that the low grades received in Suffolk and statewide could be entirely out of their control. Ozone pollution could drift into Virginia from thousands of miles away, he said.

What smells here isn’t pollution in the air. It’s the odor of unbridled earth-worship in the service of anti-capitalism. The situation is dire, we’re told (though the empirical evidence of the crisis is slim), and there’s nothing we can do to change our fate, short of wholesale and radical changes to the very fabric of our society — and then only at a global level.

Chalk us up as skeptics if you will, but we choose to take a collective deep breath and wait for evidence of widespread respiratory crisis before issuing a cry for gas masks.