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Position Paper 2003:
GCG Supports Clean Air

Reviewed 2014

The Garden Club of Georgia, Inc. has been dedicated to preserving and protecting Clean Air since 1928.

Over many days from May to October, the air over much of the state of Georgia is not clean enough for safe health. Rain transfers much of our air pollution to the waterways and earth. This acid rain is killing our forests, lakes, and waterways, and reducing crop yields. Wildlife habitats, as well as wildlife, are being reduced or are disappearing. Lakes still support fish, but EPD warns pregnant women to limit or avoid consumption of fish, due to high mercury content, which would impede proper development of the fetus.

Two main sources of air pollution in Georgia are: vehicles for transportation (cars, buses, and trucks, and especially diesel engines), and coal fired electric power plants operating without modern pollution controls.

GCG believes that the following action must be taken to improve the quality of Georgia's air if we are to maintain a vibrant and forward moving economy.

  • Reduction of three pollutants—Sulfur dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen oxide (NOx) and Mercury (Hg)—that are affecting the quality of the air and adversely affecting the habitat of all living things: plants, animals, and humans.
  • Reduction in the amount of Carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases released to the atmosphere, as global warming may pose the greatest risk to biodiversity in the coming century.
  • Emission reduction for these four pollutants through an integrated strategy of regulated emission caps, improved energy efficiency, and greater use of renewable energy sources.
  • Enforcement of New Source Review, a key provision of the 1977 Amendment to the Clean Air Act, that requires old power plants to modernize their pollution controls whenever they expand or increase their emissions.

Glossary of Terms

Sulfur dioxide (SO2)—Sulfur in coal becomes sulfur dioxide (SO2) when coal is burned. SO2 acidifies lakes, streams, and soil, and creates haze that pollutes our state's wilderness and urban areas.

Nitrogen oxide (NOx)—Nitrogen oxide is produced when coal is burned. Winds carry these acid pollutants far from their sources. This causes acid rain, smog, and acid gases. Nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons combine in the atmosphere to form ground level ozone, the major constituent of smog. Human exposure to smog can produce shortness of breath, asthma, and over time, permanent lung damage.

Mercury (Hg)—Mercury is a nerve poison that builds to hazardous levels when released into the environment. The chief source of mercury is power plants. When mercury enters the water, it can contaminate fish. Forty-one states have issued warnings regarding consumption of fish from their waters.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)—Carbon dioxide is the gas most responsible for global warming. Much of the emission of CO2 into our atmosphere can be directly related to human activity. Examples are deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels.

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