Laura Kate Bender, of the American Lung Association in Virginia, issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to strengthen the current ozone pollution limits to a more protective level in the range of 65 parts per billion -70 ppb, down from 75 ppb:
“Today’s proposal by the Obama Administration to strengthen the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone would provide greater protection to Virginia from the nation’s most pervasive air pollutant, a step that is long overdue. Thousands of peer-reviewed medical studies show that breathing ozone pollution is dangerous to human health. The EPA review shows harm is occurring at levels far below what is currently considered “safe.”
“That means that until now, too many Virginians have been assured that the air in their community is safe to breathe based on the outdated standard. The science shows that information was wrong. Every parent in America has a right to know the truth about the air their children breathe.
“We are concerned that EPA did not include 60 ppb in the range, though it was the clear recommendation of independent scientists as well as health and medical societies, including the American Lung Association. The scientific record clearly shows that a standard of 60 ppb would provide the most public health protection. We will continue to push the Agency to adopt standards based on the scientific evidence.
“The EPA’s proposal to strengthen the standard is a step forward in the fight to protect all Americans from the dangers of breathing ozone pollution, especially to protect our children, our older adults and those living with lung or heart disease."
“For far too long, millions of Americans have been living with a weak and outdated standard. President Obama and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy must adopt a more protective standard to protect the American people from real dangers of ozone pollution by Oct. 1, 2015.”
Ozone pollution can cause premature death, irritate the lungs, and trigger breathing problems and asthma attacks that send people to the emergency room. Evidence since the last ozone standard review also warns that breathing ozone may cause cardiovascular damage and increase the risk of low birth weight babies.