As an allergist-immunologist, I see firsthand the impacts that air pollution has on my patients. Studies have long warned health professionals about the harm caused by dangerous levels of air pollution.

However, we’ve never had nationwide information about how that air pollution affects the well-being of the people living in each community – until now. A new report released by the American Thoracic Society and the Marron Institute of Urban Management at New York University paints a clear picture of the role that air pollution plays in our communities.

Bottom line: We could prevent more than 9,000 premature deaths every year by reducing ozone and particulate pollution to American Thoracic Society-recommended levels. With that cleaner air, we would also see thousands fewer of the events that harm health, such as heart attacks, and dramatically reduce the number of days of missed school and work.

Here in Portland, eight lives would be spared if the air we breathe were clean enough to meet the stronger limits recommended by the medical community. We must continue to fight for cleaner air and hold our lawmakers accountable to protect our communities from particle pollution and high-ozone days like we’ve experienced this summer.

Here in Maine, we need the Environmental Protection Agency’s new ozone standards to be implemented and enforced to their fullest potential. With our aging population and high rate of asthma, we must work to prevent air pollution from flowing into our state. I urge my lawmakers to protect Maine communities by protecting and improving the air we breathe.

Marguerite Pennoyer