The NC BREATHE Conference aims to reduce the number of Code Orange days, like this one last summer in Charlotte, where air quality is dangerous for sensitive groups. (Clean Air Carolina)
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – North Carolina has come a long way in improving air quality in recent decades, but is it far enough?
Recent research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds even short-term exposure to air pollution below current standards can lead to premature death.
According to Rachel McIntosh-Kastrinsky, manager of Medical Advocates for Healthy Air – part of the group Clean Air Carolina – further reducing air-quality standards would come at a cost to both the public and private sectors, but she’s convinced it’s worth it in the long run.
"We at Clean Air Carolina want to make sure we’re doing the most to actually help and promote public policy that can get behind this," said McIntosh-Kastrinsky. "Not only are we saving lives, which is always a positive, but health effects are actually an economic incentive as well."
It is just one of the topics of today’s annual NC BREATHE conference, coordinated by Clean Air Carolina. Leaders from academia and state government will converge to discuss ways to engage communities in the state in the quality of air, and importance of collecting data on its quality.
McIntosh-Kastrinsky said part of the conference’s magic is bringing together people studying climate as a matter of theory and practice.
"As someone with a science background, I’ve found that even scientists aren’t always great at communicating together, depending on their discipline," she observed. "So here, we really bring all these different disciplines and different areas together to try and push things forward."
She pointed out that North Carolina state has 23 particulate-matter monitors, but there are 100 counties – which leaves a majority of the state without direct monitoring on the local level. Clean Air Carolina is in the process of working to place low-cost monitors in every county.
Stephanie Carson, Public News Service – NC