Credit: Darrow Montgomery

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Kids in the D.C.–Baltimore metro area suffer more than 25,000 asthma attacks annually because of ozone smog from oil and gas pollution, leading to upwards of 18,000 school days lost, a new report says. 

The Clean Air Task Force, an environmental advocacy nonprofit founded in 1996, finds that the region records dozens of asthma-related emergency room visits each year and has experienced over two weeks of unhealthy air this summer. The report, called “Gasping for Breath,” ranks D.C.–Baltimore third among the top 25 metro areas in terms of health effects from ozone smog, behind Dallas–Fort Worth and New York. Across the U.S., there are more than 750,000 summertime asthma attacks among children under 18 and over 2,000 total ER visits due to ozone smog each year.

“When inhaled, ozone smog can impair lung function, trigger asthma attacks, and aggravate diseases such as bronchitis and emphysema, in some cases leading to premature death,” the group writes in its report. “Children, the elderly, and people with existing respiratory conditions are the most at risk from ozone smog pollution, which can drive them to stay indoors in the warmer months when smog levels are highest, robbing children of their summers and others of their ability to work and recreate out of doors.”

The task force collaborated with Colorado State University to examine data from the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Census Bureau, modeling emissions, air quality, and health impacts. Most “high ozone” days occur from May through September. Along with the report, they compiled a national “oil and gas threat map.”


You can read the full report here.