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Declining Air Quality

May 18, 1997

Your article, "Room To Breathe" (May 12) came as no surprise to me. Since the early history of the Earth, it appears there has been a whopping 50% drop in the average oxygen content of the air we breathe.

Worse yet, scientific analysis of the air in various parts of the world reveals the frightening fact that the oxygen content of the air appears to continue to decline. In some of the larger cities, the levels have recently measured at a distressing 12% to 15%. Scientists claim that anything under 7% oxygen in the air is too low to support human life, even for short periods.

Oxygen bars will help, but it is like putting a Band-Aid on a cancer. The real solution is stopping the insane destruction of oxygen-rich rain forests around the world. Unfortunately, it seems to do no good to write to President Clinton. His response is to send a form letter thanking you for your input, no matter what you write him about.

JOYCE PERRY

Los Angeles

* In "Breathing Easier" (May 2) smog scientist Peg Brunelle recalls that identifying cars and refineries as major smog culprits "caused an uproar in the business community and among civic leaders." Despite that uproar, stronger government standards have yielded 25 years of remarkable progress in cleaning up our air. Some things have changed for the better.

But some haven't. After reviewing more than 3,000 health studies, the EPA has proposed new standards to protect children and the elderly from ozone and from small but harmful airborne particles. And again powerful and influential elements of the business community are attacking the proposal.

But it is possible and it is necessary. Ask the parents of a child with asthma or other respiratory problems. Ask the elderly of Los Angeles who lose, on average, one to two years of their life span to dirty air. More than 8,000 premature deaths a year in Los Angeles can be attributed to smog.

BILL CORCORAN

Conservation Assistant

Angeles Chapter, Sierra Club

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