The end of the vehicle testing program provides an opportunity for the media to help illuminate the health issues associated with ozone pollution. Ozone pollution is a serious matter. The potential adverse health impacts of exposure to ozone air pollution are significant and include reduced pulmonary function, increased respiratory symptoms, airway hyperreactivity and airway inflammation, in addition to premature mortality, increased hospital admissions for cardiopulmonary causes, and exacerbation of bronchitis, asthma, and respiratory symptoms. The groups most at risk of experiencing adverse responses include children and adults who are active outdoors, and outdoor workers. Northern Kentuckys air does not meet the 8-Hour health-based ozone standard, and federal law does not allow the ending of a program that has been part of the plan and has helped reduce ozone pollution, until that standard is met. While some might believe that cars and light trucks are not part of the pollution problem, in the northern Kentucky area mobile sources contribute about half of the local pollution burden, and ending the inspection and maintenance program will result in an increase of ¾ of a ton of volatile organics and about ¼ of a ton of nitrogen oxides each summer day. The proposed replacement measures will not offset those losses, and the result will be poorer air quality.
Ordering an end to the program might be good state politics, but as a matter of public health it is bad state policy. Recent studies suggest that the current U.S. EPA 8-hour standard for ozone is itself not protective of human health with an adequate margin of safety, and that peak and average exposure values below the 8-hour standard are needed to protect those most at risk. KRC is confident that most citizens recognize that the vehicle testing is at worst a small inconvenience that is part of the obligation of any citizen to do their share to improve the quality of life for all, and at best an inexpensive way to detect maintenance problems that result in higher gas consumption and more pollution.