Lung Association Reacts to EPA's Ozone Standard Announcement

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

(January 7, 2010)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's announcement today that they will propose lowering the National Ambient Air Quality standard (NAAQs) for ozone from its current 75 parts per billion (ppb) to between 60 and 70 ppb is welcome news. New Yorkers deserve to breathe cleaner air and lowering the nation's ozone standard would go a long way toward helping to achieve that goal.

The Lung Association urges the EPA to adopt the 60 ppb standard when they make their final decision on the matter in August. If this protective standard were to be adopted, residents of 14 more counties in New York who are suffering from ozone pollution would, at last, have some help. The EPA's action will start a process that will enable people to finally breathe safely outdoors in the summer rather than being forced to suffer or stay indoors. A lower standard will mean more people will be able to live normal, healthy lives and fewer kids will be sent to emergency rooms because of asthma episodes.

Ever since the EPA adopted the current standard for ozone in 2008, the Lung Association has argued that it was inadequate and failed to protect public health. We also took legal action to require the EPA to reconsider this standard.

Ozone gas irritates the respiratory tract and causes health problems like asthma attacks, coughing, wheezing, chest pain and even premature death. The lung health of New Yorkers would be well served by a more restrictive standard. We are hopeful that the EPA will choose to adopt the 60 ppb standard so as to offer New Yorkers the greatest protection from this dangerous air pollutant.

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