Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 03, 2006

Shutting monitors harms public health

Protecting public health is a legitimate government responsibility. So when I found out that the Ehrlich administration had shut off monitors for dangerous levels of ozone in Baltimore, I felt betrayed ("Ozone checks in city stopped," Feb. 22).

A Maryland Department of the Environment official reasons that ozone monitors in the city are redundant and "a wasteful expense of funds."

Without the Baltimore data, significantly fewer Code Red "bad-air days" have been reported in the three years since the monitors were shut down.

However, as the Republican administrations in Annapolis and Washington delay enforcement of existing Clean Air Act regulations and allow continued manufacture of gas-guzzling vehicles, our air in Maryland remains hard to breathe, not just for the increased number of asthma sufferers but for all of us.

The state's dirtiest coal-fired power plants continue to belch out high levels of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, mercury and carbon dioxide, which contribute to respiratory ailments, childhood brain damage and the global greenhouse effect.

The Maryland Healthy Air Act, which is now before the General Assembly, would help solve the serious problem of power plant pollution by closing the loophole in the law that allows old power plants to emit more pollution than standards allow for newer plants.

Frank L. Fox

Mechanicsville

The writer is a member of the Maryland chapter of the Sierra Club.

High ozone levels don't cause asthma

There are many good reasons to monitor ozone levels in Baltimore, but protecting asthmatics is not one of them ("Ozone checks in city stopped," Feb. 22).

This is because, contrary to conventional wisdom, ozone is not a significant cause of asthma attacks.

As The Sun reported four years ago, researchers at NASA and the University of Maryland have shown that hospitalizations for asthma in Baltimore and statewide are lowest in summer when ozone levels are highest and highest in the fall when ozone is lowest ("Hoping to pull answers out of air," May 1, 2002).

Similar results have been reported in at least six other countries.

Asthmatics are less bothered by ozone than healthy people because their lungs produce five to 10 times more carbon monoxide, and this carbon monoxide interacts with whatever ozone they inhale to produce harmless carbon dioxide and oxygen.

Code Red levels of ozone are harmful, but only to people whose lungs do not contain such high levels of carbon monoxide.

Albert Donnay

Lutherville

The writer is a certified carbon monoxide analyst and the president of an environmental health engineering firm.

Others pay price for Bush's failures

In Thomas Sowell's column "Being `fair' takes big toll" (Opinion * Commentary, Feb. 23), he states: "The problem gets more complicated in politics, where one set of people has the power to postpone facing reality and a different set of people has to pay the price later on."

Indeed, that describes what we're experiencing now, in the aftermath of the many flawed decisions by the Bush administration.

For example, it didn't face reality with regard to terrorism, and the culprits slipped its grip in Afghanistan, and now our troops who are stuck in the quagmire in Iraq (and their families) are paying the price.

The administration didn't face realities regarding Hurricane Katrina, in spite of ample warnings, and today many people whose lives have been devastated by the poor government response to that disaster are paying the price.

Failing to face reality while others pay a heavy price is truly the hallmark of this administration, whose use of political spin is more evident than any concern for reality.

C. Schuetz

Timonium

How many days off do children need?

Now the Muslims want Islamic holidays to be days off from school. But how many more holidays do school systems need ("Schools proposal disturbs Muslims," Feb. 27)?

Between teacher planning days, snow days, I-spotted-a-snowflake-in-the-air holidays, real holidays, make-believe holidays, it's-too-windy-to-go-outside holidays, the-pipes-froze holidays, it's-too-humid-to-be-in-school holidays, the-dog-ate-my homework holidays, and so on and on, kids have way too many days off from school now.

How about we have a go-to-school holiday?

Bob Dickerson

Forest Hill

After we give Muslim kids their religious holidays off, will we give the Wiccan kids Halloween and the winter solstice off?

And then perhaps the Scientologist kids will get L. Ron Hubbard's birthday off.

Then pretty soon there won 't be any school days on the Baltimore County school calendar.

Tony Jordan

Baltimore

Recognize holidays of the major faiths

For years now, the signs out in front of every Baltimore County public school have announced in September that the school will be closed for Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah.

And we all know that when the same sign announces that school is closed for winter holidays and for spring vacation, it is really closing for Christmas and Easter.

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