Proposed health-protective ozone standard is withdrawn
September 8, 2011
Obama recently ordered EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to withdraw the EPA’s
proposed national ambient air quality standard for ground-level ozone. This
order, which ignores the scientific advice of the EPA’s own scientists, will
allow ozone concentrations to continue unabated at levels that contribute to
thousands of premature deaths and heart attacks each year.
urges its members to call the White House and tell President Obama
they are deeply disappointed by his decision.
Obama’s decision puts lives on the line. Ozone is particularly harmful to infants and
children, the elderly, and those with asthma or other underlying respiratory or cardiac disease. Those who play and work outside are also vulnerable to its
adverse health effects.
reduced lung function
addition to contributing to premature death and heart attacks, ozone also
aggravates asthma and contributes to respiratory illnesses. It reduces lung
function and has been linked to lung cancer. It has also been linked to
premature birth and cardiac birth defects.
the major component of smog, is the most pervasive outdoor air pollutant in the
US. It is formed when pollutants released from power plants and cars are
exposed to sunlight and heat in the lower atmosphere.
stronger ozone standard – the kind that Obama ordered EPA not to
implement – would reap significant health benefits. EPA scientists have calculated that the
stronger standards would prevent 12,000 deaths per year,
decrease hospital and emergency
room visits by 21,000 per year, decrease asthma attacks by 58,000 per
year, reduce by 2.5 million the number of days when people miss work or school
and reduce by 8.1 million the days when people must restrict their activities.
trillion in health savings
The EPA calculates that preventing these harms would result
in up to $1 trillion in health improvement savings over a 10-year period, far
outstripping the up to $900 billion in estimated compliance costs.
decision also goes against the advice of his administration’s own scientists.
The currently applicable standard, set in 1997, is 86 parts per billion (ppb).
Since then, EPA’s scientists have determined at least twice that this level
threatens human health.
When George W. Bush proposed lowering the standard to
75 ppb in 2008, his proposal exceeded the recommendations of EPA’s Clean Air
Scientific Advisory Panel (CASAC), which had suggested a standard of 60-70 ppb
to protect human health. After Obama’s inauguration, EPA withdrew the Bush
standard in order to reevaluate the science, leaving the 1997 standard in
place. Again, CASAC suggested a standard of 60-70 ppb, based on available
science. But Obama ordered EPA to withdraw the proposed standard. In doing so,
he leaves in place the outdated, dangerously high 1997 standard of 86 ppb.