Today, the American Lung Association, the American Thoracic Society, and the American Public Health Association, among other groups, took legal action against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its failure to meet a legal requirement to identify communities in the country where smog levels exceed the 2015 ozone national air quality standard by October 1, 2017. Releasing this long-delayed list of communities exceeding smog levels - also known as ozone nonattainment designations - is an important step in the implementation of the new, more protective ozone standards. The organizations are all represented by non-profit law organization Earthjustice.
"Two months ago, we filed a 60-day intent to sue over the EPA's failure to meet the October deadline to release ozone nonattainment designations. Today, we are following through in the hopes that this will compel the EPA and Administrator Scott Pruitt to do their job," said Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association. "While the EPA has released the list of communities currently in attainment of the 2015 ozone standard, delaying the remaining critical information is putting people's health and lives at risk, especially those in our most vulnerable communities, including children, older adults, and those with lung disease."
"We are extremely disappointed but not surprised by Administrator Pruitt's unwillingness to declare the areas in our country that are not meeting ozone standards. Every day that passes, people are exposed to dangerous pollutants," said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. "Ozone is a harmful and widespread pollutant that can cause asthma attacks, respiratory damage and even early death. Its cleanup is critical."
"EPA's delay in enforcing the ozone standard harms my patients with lung disease. Ozone exposure causes asthma attacks, COPD exacerbations, emergency room visits and even premature death. EPA's enforcement delay means patients like mine are denied the healthy air they need to survive," said Dr. Mary B. Rice, M.D., and Co-Chair of the American Thoracic Society's Environmental Health Policy Committee."
Rice added: "As a physician who treats patients with severe lung disease, I can prescribe medicine and life style modifications to improve my patient's health. But I can't make the air cleaner for my patients. Only EPA can do that. EPA's failure to enforce the ozone standard puts my patients' health and wellbeing in jeopardy."
Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA was required to begin implementation of the 2015 ozone standard by October 1, 2017. Earlier this year, EPA Administrator Pruitt said he would delay the October deadline for implementation by a full year, a decision he later dismissed after multiple states and groups took legal action. The American Lung Association, the American Thoracic Society, and the American Public Health Association will continue to defend the implementation of the Clean Air Act in order to protect the health of millions of Americans.
About the American Lung Association
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, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.