American Lung Association in New York Welcomes EPA-Proposed Sulfur Dioxide Health Standard, Urges State Senate to Immediately Pass Bill to Reduce Sulfur in Heating Oil

Statement of Scott T. Santarella, American Lung Association in New York President and CEO

(November 17, 2009)

The American Lung Association in New York welcomes the new limits on the toxic air pollutant sulfur dioxide that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed today.  Considering that this health standard has not been revised since 1971, this action is long overdue. We strongly urge the EPA to set a standard at a level that truly protects public health.  At the same time, we  urge the New York State Senate to do its part to limit New Yorkers’ exposure to this harmful pollutant by immediately passing S. 1145-a which would drastically reduce the sulfur content in home heating oil sold in New York state.

Because of the high content of sulfur in home heating oil, its combustion is the second largest source of sulfur dioxide emission in New York state.  Only the power sector emits more.  Because of this, the State Senate has a golden opportunity this week to help clean the air and improve public health by passing S. 1145-a.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) makes it hard for the many New Yorkers who suffer from asthma to breathe.  High levels of SO2 force people to the emergency room and to hospitals because they have trouble breathing.  

 If EPA adopts a standard that protects the health of the public, communities with the highest SO2 levels will have to clean up their pollution, including several counties in New York State (Bronx, Chautauqua and Suffolk). The American Lung Association recommends EPA adopt the most protective level, 50 parts per billion, under consideration. 

On behalf of the many New Yorkers who struggle to breathe every day, the American Lung Association in New York urges the state of New York to take action on S.1145-a which would immediately clean our air by limiting sulfur in home heating oil.  We also urge the EPA to adopt a tighter one-hour standard for sulfur dioxide and to retain its existing annual standard.

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