David H. Ingbar MD, president of the American Thoracic Society, today called the proposed standards issued by the Environmental Protection Agency for ozone pollution-commonly known as smog-"unhealthy for America's kids, unhealthy for America's seniors, and unhealthy for America."
"The science is clear," Dr. Ingbar said, "ozone pollution is causing unnecessary, illnesses and death in America. The proposed EPA standards fall short of providing the protection needed to keep Americans safe from ozone air pollution."
In announcing the proposed standard today, EPA is calling for a modest tightening of the current standard of 0.08 ppm/8-hours. EPA is proposing a revised standard in the range of 0.075 ppm/8-hours to 0.070 ppm/8-hours. While suggesting a stricter standard, EPA is still considering retaining the current standard. The range proposed by the EPA falls far short of the standard of 0.060 ppm/8-hours supported by the American Thoracic Society and others in the scientific community.
By failing to adopt a more stringent ozone standard, EPA is ignoring the strong scientific evidence that shows real harm being caused by ozone pollution at the current standard. "In issuing the standard today, EPA is ignoring the advice of their own staff, the advice of EPA advisory committees, the opinion of the medical and scientific community," says Dr. Ingbar. "More importantly, EPA is ignoring the all the kids who will be spending part of their summer in the hospital emergency room from asthma attacks caused by ozone pollution."
To assist the EPA in analyzing and interpreting the scientific data, the EPA convened a panel of experts called the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee. CASAC, which included members with academic and industry backgrounds, analyzed the available data. They unanimously concluded the current standard does not protect public health and recommended a standard between 0.060 and 0.070 ppm/-8-hours.
Since the ozone standard was last reviewed in 1997, researchers have published a growing body of evidence documenting the adverse health effects of ozone exposure, including increased respiratory disease and higher mortality rates, at levels below that being considered by the EPA in their proposed rule.