WASHINGTON, DC | August 21, 2023
In response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement that the agency will wrap its reconsideration of the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for Ozone into a new review, American Lung Association President and CEO Harold Wimmer issued the following statement:
“EPA not fixing the inadequate national limit on ozone pollution is profoundly disappointing and a huge, missed opportunity to promote health and environmental justice. The American Lung Association’s ‘State of the Air’ report shows that people of color bear a disproportionate burden from ozone air pollution. A more protective standard would help to address this environmental injustice.
“As shown by the strong recommendation by the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), the science clearly shows the current National Ambient Air Quality Standard for this pollutant is too weak, allowing levels of ozone that harm people’s health. The independent CASAC scientific experts recommended to the EPA Administrator that the ozone standard be significantly strengthened to a range of 55 to 60 parts per billion to reflect the current health science.
“With this reconsideration, EPA had an opportunity to correct the previous administration’s decision and clean up a pollutant that causes premature death. Instead, the public will now have to wait for years for the chance of a stronger national limit on ozone, suffering health harms in the meantime. The Clean Air Act requires the next review of the ozone standard to be completed by December 31, 2025.
“This disappointing news comes at an inflection point for this administration’s goals of addressing air pollution and advancing environmental justice. Critical regulations are proposed, but not yet finalized. EPA has proposed standards to clean up future cars and trucks, limit methane leaks from the oil and gas industry, rachet down on toxic air emissions from burning coal and set much-needed limits on carbon pollution from power plants. Most immediately, the administration is also considering strengthening the national limits on particulate matter.
“Finalizing all of these proposed rules quickly – and making them as strong as necessary to protect public health – is more important now than ever. Failing to strengthen the ozone standard means millions of Americans will continue to suffer.
“The Clean Air Act requires air that is safe and healthy to breathe. The current ozone standard falls far short of the law’s requirements, especially for overburdened communities. The American Lung Association will use all available tools to pursue an ozone standard that protects heath and ensures safer air for all to breathe.”
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, which has a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Platinum-Level GuideStar Member, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org. To support the work of the American Lung Association, find a local event at Lung.org/events.
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