CINCINNATI -- On a bright sunny spring day, it's hard to believe Cincinnati got F's for its air quality.
Cory Chadwick, director of the Hamilton County Environmental Services, says it's true. "It's still considered unhealthy when you exceed that national ambient air standard," he says.
But those grades come with a lot of caveats.
First of which, the numbers in the report are averages, taken from 2006 through 2008.
Chadwick has 2009 data that says we're doing better because of tighter emissions regulations. Last year we met the standards that were set in 1997. Then the EPA changed the standards, making them tougher.
"I can tell you right now," Chadwick warns,"we are not going to be in attainment for that standard, but a lot of the US is not gonna make the new ozone standard."
Even with the improvements, there are days where the air still isn't healthy.
For someone with breathing problems, cautions Dr. David Bernstein, a researcher for the UC Allergy Division, that could be serious. "They could have exacerbation of their pulmonary disease which would require them going to have to go to the hospital."
We all know the mantra during the summer; combine your trips, gas up after dark.
But what about riding your bike day after day in a polluted city? Dr. Bernstein isn't so sure. "Your overall lifetime risk of developing cardiac disease may be greater."
Even cyclists like Gary Wright of Queen City Bike advise you not to ride during a smog alert. "But on the other days of the year, I think you can help, you can help yourself and you can help everyone else by going ahead and riding and exercising," he says.
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