Asthma rates in Rhode Island are above the national average, according to a Brown University professor who testified before a Senate subcommittee hearing focused on air quality standards. Rhode Island Public Radio’s environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza has more details.
The hearing focused on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to strengthen the air quality standard for ozone, the main pollutant in smog linked to asthma, heart disease, and premature death, from the present standard of 75 parts per million down to a range of 65 to 70 parts per million.
Miriam Hospital cardiologist and Brown medical school professor Dr. Barbara Roberts said the Food and Drug Administration’s proposal to ban trans fats in processed foods is long overdue. Trans fats, or partially hydrogenated oils, are added to foods like cookies, ready-to-use frostings, and microwave popcorn to extend their shelf life. Scientists have known for decades that they can lead to hardened arteries and higher bad cholesterol.