BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention says the most common environmental health hazards are air and water pollution. A recent study by Quote Wizard indicates that out of all U.S. states, Louisiana ranks seventh worst overall for air and water pollution.
The study claimed that the state ranked eighth-worst for drinking water quality and that Louisiana’s air quality tests as “good” on 83% of days.
The CDC says, “Poor air quality can trigger asthma attacks,” and adds that “Elevated blood lead levels in children can cause developmental disabilities.”
So, what are local officials doing to protect and improve the environment?
The Louisiana Department of Health tests all drinking water systems to ensure it falls within state regulations. This is carried out through its Safe Drinking Water Program, which oversees the monitoring and inspection of the more than 1,300 water systems in the state.
On May 1, LDH released the water grades for 951 community water systems across the state. “More than 65% of water systems in the state received an A or B grade. However, 15% of systems received a D or F and have opportunities for development,” Amanda Ames LDH’s Chief Engineer said. “Dedicated funding through the LDH Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund Program, as well as other funding mechanisms, are available to help systems invest in this critical infrastructure.”
When it comes to air quality, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality is focused on all of the six criteria pollutants designated by EPA:
- particulate matter,
- carbon monoxide,
- sulfur dioxide and
- nitrogen dioxide.
As of May, LDEQ says Louisiana is safely within regulation for all six, with the exception of sulfur dioxide. The organization says two small areas in two parishes are not in compliance for sulfur dioxide.
In recent years, Baton Rouge and surrounding areas have made progress in relation to ozone. Until 2017, East and West Baton Rouge, Livingston, Ascension and Iberville parishes were not within safe regulations for ozone. But LDEQ worked with local industries, environmental groups and the general public to change this. Later that year, ozone was within regulation in those Parishes.
That said, ozone can still affect certain communities within Baton Rouge.
Greg Langley, LDEQ Press Secretary said, “Ozone is a concern on sunny days with little or no wind. Two compounds, nitrous oxide (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from automobile exhausts can combine in the presence of sunlight and form ozone, an oxygen isotope that is an irritant to sensitive populations such as people with asthma or COPD. Ozone can cause reduced resistance to lung infections, colds. It can irritate your eyes.”
This is why LDEQ issues alerts like Ozone Action Days. On those dares, high ozone levels are predicted. But it’s meant to help people who might be affected by high ozone prepare for the possibility, even if the increase doesn’t happen.
What you can do to protect the environment
So, what can a person do to protect themselves and others on a high ozone day?
Langley said, “The best things you can do when there is an Ozone Action Day is limit your outdoor activity, drive less, don’t go through the drive-through line at the fast food restaurant and don’t cut your grass early in the day, avoid outdoor painting, gas up your car in the evening, conserve energy in your home and don’t grill outside. You can find more ozone tips on the LDEQ website, www.deq.louisiana.gov.”