Baltimore's air keeps getting cleanerThe Sun's May 29...


June 24, 1996

Baltimore's air keeps getting cleaner

The Sun's May 29 story, ''State asks for group effort to limit smog,'' noted that last year high ozone levels were recorded on 14 days at various points in the Baltimore area.

But no mention was made that ozone exceedances in recent years, including last year, are much less frequent than they were 10-to-15 years ago, thanks to a variety of efforts.

Baltimore now meets federal clean air standards for five of the six pollutants monitored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In the 1980s, we met only three out of six.

Ozone is the single pollutant for which Baltimore has yet to meet the standards. However, Baltimore area residents should know that significant progress has been made and continues to be made toward this goal.

Emissions of chemicals that lead to ozone formation have dropped dramatically in the past 10-to-15 years, thanks to cleaner factories and cars, cleaner-burning gasolines and other efforts.

Compared with 1980 levels, daily emissions of these chemicals in 1996 are 270 tons lower. Daily emissions are expected to drop by another 46 tons by the year 2005. This is a notable achievement.

It is true that extremely hot summers, like last year's, can still create problems. Yet even last summer's experience shows evidence of our progress.

In 1983 and 1988, when similarly hot summers hit the area, the number of days on which excessive ozones were recorded was closer to 40. Such numbers of exceedances are unlikely to be seen again. Also, the duration of the exceedance episodes and maximum concentrations of ozone reached have been reduced.

As EPA Administrator Carol Browner noted at the launch of the new ''Ozone Action Days,'' with programs in place or scheduled to go into effect plus voluntary effort from individuals and businesses, the Baltimore area is likely to meet the standard for ozone in the near future.

Estimates are that this goal is achievable in 5-to-10 years, maybe less. Indeed, it is the goal of the voluntary efforts launched last month to build on the past and ongoing efforts to get us to our goal as soon as possible.

John D. Willard


The writer is project manager at Coastal Environmental Services Inc.

Professors deserve better summer pay

I sympathized with former Essex Community College professor Edward Sherwin when he whined about his dismissal during the school's recent reorganization, but his June 12 letter ("Professors shouldn't whine over salaries") distorting salaries and belittling former colleagues was unjustified.

As Mr. Sherwin knows, the $54,300 salary he quoted is at the top of the scale for professors and not the average salary. New positions are being offered at the rank of instructor, which is at about half this rate. It usually takes about 20 years, a doctorate and extensive professional service to go from instructor to professor.

Mr. Sherwin, who was once a hard-working and admired professor, knows that no one who puts in only 20 hours of student contact each week is retained, let alone promoted. There are tests and papers, scholarly pursuits, meetings, committees, record keeping, memos, mail, journals, professional development, community contacts. Does one judge the ''work'' of a reporter only by the hours spent at a keyboard or a surgeon by the hours spent with a scalpel in hand?

Colleges cannot guarantee summer classes for all full-time professors. Those professors who do teach in the summer already receive a reduced pay schedule. Last summer my pay was 34 percent less than an identical load during the academic year.

Yet a recent Sun editorial suggested the colleges should save money by further reducing summer pay -- a 70 percent cut from my academic year pay rate. There has been no suggestion that administrators receive a 70 percent cut, or secretaries, or county police, or fire fighters. I doubt The Sun will pay 70 percent less to its employees this summer, or IBM, or Burger King.

Teaching is already the least paid ''profession.'' We have recently felt the sting of fiscal stagnation and frugality. Why are professors the only employees who are expected to take huge pay cuts in the summer?

David Thorndill

Cub Hill

The writer is a professor at Essex Community College.

Puzzled about funding criteria

Maryland, the free state.

Definition: A state where $10 million is appropriated to clear downed trees from the waterways that only the privileged boat in. My grandparents resided on the waterfront for 40 years, lived through three hurricanes and numerous floods and had to clear the water themselves.

Baltimore, the city that reads.

Definition: A city where School No. 237 has no school library. The classrooms are very overcrowded, children have been found in possession of drugs and the only solution the powers-that-be can suggest is to combine this elementary school with another overcrowded, drug-infiltrated elementary school.

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