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PSR calls on EPA to tighten proposed standards on smog
February 16, 2010
It was my pleasure to present PSR’s comments before the Environmental Protection Agency recently, urging the EPA to tighten air quality standards for ground-level ozone, or smog.
Speaking at a public hearing in Arlington, VA, I joined the American Lung Association, Sierra Club and other clean air advocates in highlighting the damage to health that smog inflicts on large swaths of the U.S. population.
On the other side were industry spokespeople who cited the inconveniences and costs that more stringent pollution limits would impose on their businesses.
Those claims undoubtedly have some validity. But they shrink when viewed in the context of the costs to health that respiratory diseases already impose on Americans:
- 100,000 deaths annually
- 4 million hospital discharges
- 14 million emergency room visits
- 112 million visits to ambulatory care facilities
- perhaps as many as 700 million person-days where activity was restricted due to causes attributable to the lower respiratory system.
Interestingly, I seemed to be the only speaker telling the EPA that its proposed standards were not strict enough. PSR’s review of the scientific studies cited by the EPA suggested that they were endorsing an ozone standard not stringent enough to protect vulnerable populations.
“Vulnerable populations” include children, especially children with asthma; adults with chronic respiratory or cardiovascular diseases, and populations with genetic susceptibilities to ozone. Hardly an insignificant portion of our population!
Concerned about ozone’s impact on health? Know something about the impacts of ozone? Share your knowledge and concerns with the EPA. They are receiving public comments online, through March 22.