Speaking Out For Healthier Air

EPA Review Offers Chance to Reduce Deadly Smog

(March 1, 2010)

You can fight today for healthier air.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to lower the nation's official limit on the amount of ozone, also called smog, considered safe to breathe.  The EPA has opened a window of opportunity for the public to raise their voice in support of a safer ozone limit.  But this critical window is closing fast!  EPA will only accept public comments until March 22. Now is the time to tell the EPA how much healthy air means to you and your family.

EPA hosted public hearings on the ozone standard on February 2nd and 4th in Arlington, VA, Houston, TX and Sacramento, CA. The Lung Association showed up in force, testifying along with doctors, parents, people with lung disease and scores of other—to show that EPA must set ozone standards that really protect health.  Among them were Arthur Cerullo, Speaker of our Nationwide Assembly, who testified in Arlington, and National Board member Michael Gardner who testified in Sacramento.  Others who lent their voices were Lung Association Past President Al Munzer, M.D. ,  and many others.

An emotional highpoint was a statement from COPD patient Mary Theriault.  "I live with oxygen 24 hours a day.  I have a lung disease – COPD—Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. That's the medical term for emphysema or chronic bronchitis.  For me, and millions of others with COPD, quality of the air literally means quality of life," her statement read.  "I used to garden a lot and work in my yard.   I can't do that anymore.  I watch from inside my home. The air is so thick with pollution that even with oxygen, I have difficulty breathing."  Her testimony shows how powerful an individual's comments can be and how important it is that EPA hear them.

Make Your Voice Heard
Now that the public hearings are over, you have one last chance to make your voice heard – by sending EPA your comments by March 22!  Click here to send EPA a comment.  Click here to learn more.

EPA will announce their decision on the standard by August 31, 2010. 

EPA Must Protect Millions
Ozone, often known as smog, is one of the most dangerous gases polluting our communities—and the most widespread.  The American Lung Association has fought hard to get EPA to provide better protection from ozone. Now is the time to tell them that we need less smog in the U.S. 

Nearly two years ago, EPA ignored the recommendations of their own scientists and selected a standard for ozone that was too weak—allowing far more pollution than compelling research said was safe. The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set the health-based national air quality standard to protect the millions of people who live where ozone smog sends children to the emergency room and shortens the lives of people with chronic lung disease. 

When the EPA failed to set the standard where it will protect public health the Lung Association and our colleagues immediately took legal action to require EPA to reconsider their decision. As a result, EPA has agreed to take another look.  The EPA's own independent science advisors had repeatedly emphasized the need for a stronger standard than the one adopted in 2008.  EPA has now proposed setting the new standard in the range that their advisors had long recommended. 

Working for a Healthier Ozone Limit
The American Lung Association will be working throughout the coming months to urge adoption of an ozone standard that follows the science and the law.  The final ozone smog standard is too critical to the health of millions to do otherwise. 

"This is the kind of change that can easily fly under the public radar, but it will have a huge impact on the quality of the air we breathe for the next decade and beyond," said Janice Nolen, the Lung Association's Assistant Vice President of National Policy and Advocacy. "We need to seize this opportunity and let the EPA know that lives will be improved and saved if they make the right decision."

You can help fight for healthier air!  Tell EPA you want safer ozone limits.  Learn more

Related links

  • More information on Ozone
  • More information on the Proposed Standard
  • American Lung Association Statement on the EPA's Proposal
  • New York Times Story on EPA's Announcement