U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to Reconsider the 2008 National Ambient Air Quality Standard for Ozone

American Lung Association Applauds Decision by EPA to Reduce Threat from Dangerous Air Pollutant

(September 16, 2009)

Statement of Charles D. Connor, President and Chief Executive Officer, American Lung Association

Today the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, announced that the Agency will embark on a formal review of the national air quality standard for ozone, a decision that offers the opportunity to finally protect the health of millions of Americans from the most widespread and one of the most dangerous air pollutants. 

We at the American Lung Association applaud her decision to remedy a serious misjudgment that the EPA made in 2008. We look forward to working with the EPA to arrive at a new standard in 2010 that provides real protection for millions of people who live where the air they breathe can not only make them sick, it can kill. 

Previously, the EPA ignored the advice of its expert science advisors and the consensus of the health and medical community when it set this official national limit on the amount of ozone pollution that can be in the air. The amassed scientific evidence and the expert opinions of the scientists concluded that the standard needed to be much tighter to save lives and prevent other serious health effects. Last year EPA disregarded not only the science, but the requirements of federal law—the Clean Air Act—that directs EPA to set this limit, which is called the national ambient air quality standard, at a level that protects the health of the public based solely on the scientific evidence. The American Lung Association has challenged the 2008 decision in court.   Keeping to the schedule they have announced is critical. Our nation has already lost over a year in getting the standards that we need.

Ozone smog threatens the health of infants, children, seniors and people who have asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and other lung diseases. For these people, breathing smog-polluted air can make them cough and wheeze, restrict their airways, worsen their diseases, force them to the hospital and even kill them. Even healthy young adults and people who exercise or work outdoors can suffer from high levels of ozone pollution. 

We hope that from this review, the EPA will set a standard that protects all of us from this dangerous pollutant.