Albany Times Union (Letter to the editor): A tougher standard would protect lives

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December 18, 2010


Until recently, it looked like New Yorkers could expect a long overdue announcement that the federal Environmental Protection Agency would strengthen the standard for ozone air pollution by year's end.

It's been nearly a year since the EPA finally proposed a range of 60-70 parts per billion for the pollutant. Clean air advocates, including the Lung Association, had been awaiting the final announcement with much anticipation. Instead, the EPA announced it would again seek to delay this decision -- the third such delay in a year.

The American Lung Association in New York supports a more protective standard for this harmful pollutant and finds this latest delay extremely disappointing. Considering that our State of the Air Report found that 12 million New Yorkers are living in areas with failing air quality, a more protective ozone standard cannot be implemented soon enough.

Ozone air pollution causes premature death, asthma attacks and difficulty breathing. It can send people with lung diseases like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease to the emergency room. Seniors, children and people with lung disease are especially vulnerable.

We know the health risks that ozone presents and we know that a more protective standard will save lives. The time for studying the issue of whether to act has long passed. The time to agree on a stronger standard that adequately protects public health is now. We urge the EPA to adopt the strongest, most protective standard under consideration, 60 parts per billion, without further delay.

Scott T. Santarella

President and CEO

American Lung Association in New York