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Illinois #3 for Unhealthy Air

By Julene McCoy in News on Dec 14, 2005 6:51PM

Itchy eyes? Trouble breathing? The AP has done a study merging 2000 Census Data with emission reports from industrial plants to determine who is most at risk from this kind of pollution nationwide. The data points to minorities (disproportionately Blacks and Hispanics) and the poor being most endangered by short term and long term exposure.

280 Illinois neighborhoods are considered to be most at-risk for long term health problems. While fewer than half of those neighborhoods are in Cook County, we found it surprising that where Chicagoist lives and plays there’s a wide variance in pollution rates according to their Air Pollution Database. The health problems from air pollution include increased lung and heart disease, asthma, bronchitis, and everyone’s favorite – cancer.

Chicago has just passed an ordinance to improve indoor air quality and there are those who have been complaining about the better smelling emissions from local plants, but what else is happening to better the air that we breathe? Illinois state officials are monitoring plant emissions and issuing citations, while creating tighter clean-air regulations. They also want us to know that Illinois’ air quality is good or moderate 90% of the year – whatever that means. Toxic emissions have been declining over the last two decades no thanks to the Bush Administration’s easing of Clean Air Act regulations, but the majority of pollution problems stem from historic land-use decisions and development policies.

Where’s the outrage for your overall air quality, Chicago? This is one list where we wouldn't mind dropping from the Top 3.