What You Need to Know about the Obama Administration’s Ozone Pollution Standards
(November 26, 2014)
On November 26, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a new national ambient air quality standard for ozone, the most widespread air pollutant, and one of the most dangerous. The standards would set the official limit on how much ozone pollution is too much, and help inform the public when the air in their community is dangerous to breathe.
“The EPA’s proposal to strengthen the standard is a step forward in the fight to protect all Americans from the dangers of breathing ozone pollution, especially to protect our children, our older adults and those living with lung or heart disease,” said Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “To that end, we will focus on ensuring that the final ozone standard provides the most protection possible to the American people, especially the most vulnerable.”
While the proposed standard of 65-70 parts per billion (ppb), is an improvement, the American Lung Association will continue to push the Agency to adopt a more protective standard of 60 ppb, based on the recommendation of independent scientists as well as health organizations and medical societies, including the Lung Association. The scientific record shows that a standard of 60 ppb would provide the most public health protection.
Ozone is one of the one of the most dangerous and widespread pollutants in the air we breathe. Ozone pollution can irritate the lungs, trigger breathing problems and asthma attacks that send people to the emergency room and even cause premature death. Evidence since the last ozone standard review also warns that breathing ozone may cause cardiovascular damage and increase the risk of low birth weight babies.
5 Facts You Should Know about Ozone Pollution Standards
The scientific evidence shows harm is occurring at levels below what is currently considered “safe.” The standard was last revised in 2008, and the EPA proposal is long overdue.
EPA is proposing to strengthen the current ozone pollution limits to a more protective level in the range of 65 to 70 parts per billion (ppb), down from 75 ppb. EPA is also seeking comment on an even more protective standard of 60 ppb, which is the standard supported by the health and medical community.
If EPA adopts an ozone standard of 60 ppb, it would prevent 1.8 million asthma attacks and prevent 7,900 premature deaths each year beginning in 2025.
The American Lung Association was one of the parties that took legal action to require EPA to complete the review of the current science and propose a standard.
Congress required that the EPA undertake thorough reviews of the most up-to-date research every five years and to use that review to determine where to set the standard. Newer research continues to expand our understanding of the impact that ozone can have on human health.