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Members of the Boston Citizens Coalition for Cleaner Air have been quietly collecting signatures in Forbes Plaza between the Hare Krishna chanters and the Old Mole vendors. Yesterday alone they collected over 500 signatures.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health will hold public hearings on air quality standards on Tuesday, November 25, and the coalition is attempting to gain public support for more stringent controls than those proposed by the department.
"The Department of Public Health has proposed irresponsible standards. The resulting level of air pollution would be damaging to both humans and to property," said Eric J. Heller, a second-year graduate student in Chemical Physics and a member of the Sierra Club, one of the organizations in the coalition.
Recent counts of suspended particulates (smoke and ash) in Boston's air are, on the average, about 25 per cent higher than the "adverse health effects" figures set by the U.S. Public Health Service. The Massachusetts Department of Health's tentative control proposal is the same as the minimum "adverse health effects" level, according to a leaflet distributed by the coalition.
Since the state is required to hold hearings, the coalition hopes to influence standards through petitions and testimony in the open hearings.
"The Massachusetts Department ofPublic Health is really public enemy number one," according to one Harvard member of the Sierra Club. "However we're going to try to work with them rather than against them in attempting to set up a reasonable set of controls in the hearings." he added.
The militant wing of the Boston conservation movement. Ecology Action, will don gas masks in a protest rally outside the State House on the first day of the hearings. The group then intends to march to the Boston Edison Company to award the firm with a first prize blue ribbon for being the largest single source of air pollution in the area.
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