Air pollution - ozone
3:50 pm
Thu September 22, 2011

Report ranks St. Louis 10th smoggiest U.S. city

A new report released today by the advocacy group Environment Missouri ranks St. Louis as the 10th smoggiest metropolitan area in the country.

State advocate for Environment Missouri, Ted Mathys, says ozone levels in the St. Louis region exceeded the federal standard on 23 days last year.

And he says those standards aren’t as protective as they should be.

"On 18 additional days last year, the air in the St. Louis region was unhealthy to breathe," Mathys said, "but the public was never alerted to this because of outdated federal air quality standards that don’t adhere to the science."

Earlier this month, President Obama rejected a proposed EPA regulation that would have significantly reduced emissions of smog-causing chemicals.

Exposure to smog can reduce lung function and aggravate respiratory problems like asthma.

Back in June, Missouri eliminated funding for local air pollution control programs in St. Louis City, St. Louis County, Kansas City, and Springfield.

St. Louis City will lose 16 of its 20 air pollution staff by the end of next week.

Missouri Department of Natural Resources spokesperson Renee Bungart says the state is already responsible for enforcing the federal Clean Air Act – but not local ordinances, which can be more protective.

She says enforcing those is up to local governments.

"It’s totally up to them to determine if they want to continue to implement those local ordinances or not," Bungart said. "They would need to find their own funding."

Bungart says the state plans to add only four new staff to cover the loss of local government personnel.