According to the American Lung Association, Dubois County has received a failing grade for air quality. We have had ten orange-level “high concentration of particulate matter” days in the past year, which is considered unhealthy to those who are sensitive, i.e. those with pediatric asthma, adult asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, children under 18, and adults 65 and over. This comprises a large portion of our population. With Twisted Oak’s biomass incinerator proposed for near a residential neighborhood, we will have exacerbated problems. No known technology can filter the ultrafine particulates, which aren’t even regulated, and which researchers are finding are so tiny that they can enter the bloodstream and cross the blood-brain barrier. The effects upon children’s sensitive tissue and their cardiovascular and neurological development will be devastating for them and their families. Like the knowledge we have today about the hazards of breathing second-hand smoke from tobacco (especially for children), burning miscanthus grass is proving also to be a very similar health risk. Let’s not be on the wrong side of history and commit to something this significant in our community for the next 20 to 30 years. Why not be really progressive and install a solar power plant? Now that would be green. Smokestacks aren’t.
“For cryin’ out loud, when we gonna learn that we can’t breathe what we burn?”
—Bruce Liles, local folk singer