A new report by Environment Virginia shows that air quality in the D.C. area is worse than many people imagine, as D.C. ranks sixth in the nation in terms of air pollution.
"This data shows that on 33 days last year, D.C. metro residents were exposed to dangerous levels of smog pollution," says Environment Virginia associate Sarah Hyman.
Arlington resident Suzanne Smith Sundberg says she doesn’t need to check the weather to know if it’s going to be a poor air quality day. She can feel it. "It’s almost like there’s a weight on your chest, trying to press down on you when you’re trying to get out of bed," she says. "When the air’s that bad, you can’t breathe. You’re fatigued. Going outside is a risk."
Earlier this month, President Obama asked the Environmental Protect Agency to withdraw new smog regulations, but activists say federal officials should act now to improve the air.
"Right now we are calling on the Obama Administration to move forward with updating the standard for smog pollution to reflect the latest science. We’re also calling on members of Congress, especially Virginia’s members of Congress, to oppose any attacks on the Clean Air Act," says Hyman.
Northern Virginia Congressman Jim Moran says he’s ready to fight for cleaner air: "And I don’t think that this is inconsistent with the singular focus on jobs because in order for people to work productively, they need to be healthy." Moran says Virginia can also do its part by promoting mass transit and advancing smart growth strategies.
Federal smog standards are currently scheduled to come up for review in 2013.
A slate of new legislation has received an endorsement by the Virginia State Crime Commission that they say would give law enforcement more tools to investigate and prosecute child abuse.