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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pollution is harmful; cleanup is overdue

From a column by Francisco Enriquez in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

A cloud of soot engulfed Milwaukee recently, with particle pollution levels so high that the Department of Natural Resources issued four days of advisories and watches that warned children, older adults and people with asthma, bronchitis and heart or lung disease to pay close attention to their symptoms. On days when air pollution levels are high, more people suffer from more frequent, more severe and more deadly asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes.

As a pediatrician on the near south side of Milwaukee, I am deeply concerned about the effects of breathing polluted air. Some of my patients' medical conditions get much worse when they are exposed to an environment that is loaded with irritants and noxious chemicals. Access to health care and medication can lead to improvement, but if they are to heal, then cleaning our polluted environment is paramount.

Where does this pollution come from? In Milwaukee, We Energies' Valley power plant, operating without modern pollution controls, is the single largest source of particle pollutants. Sitting in the Menomonee Valley among some of the most densely populated communities in the state, the stacks are neighbors to some 24,000 people who live within a mile of the plant. The pollution from the plant contributes to violations of health standards that are set to protect public health. Cleanup of the Valley coal plant is long overdue.

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