Ed Miller, senior vice president for public policy with the American Lung Association of the Northeast, says there are nearly two million adults and children in New York who suffer from asthma. He says the current ozone standard of 75 parts per billion is too low, putting people with asthma and other chronic health conditions at risk.
“When you’re in a situation like that, people aren’t warned of bad air days and they get this false sense of security that the air quality is actually okay,” says Miller. “They’ll go about their business and put themselves at risk when in fact, they should be taking precautions.”
Industry leaders say the current ozone standard is working and that making the standard tougher raises their costs. The final public hearing on the issue was held Monday in California, but the EPA is accepting written comments until March 17.
The new ozone standard proposal is 65 to 70 parts per billion. Doctor Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, says he doesn’t think the EPA is going far enough.
“Costs are considered as part of the process, and there is a balance that you always have to do,” he says. “But we can achieve these numbers for sure, and those of us who think that it needs to go down to 60 believe we can do so in a responsible manner, without excessive costs.”
Benjamin notes that ozone is an air pollutant, and a byproduct of emissions from tailpipes and smokestacks. It exacerbates asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and can cause premature death. He calls it a significant problem that can be addressed by reducing the amount of ozone that’s produced.
New Yorkers have the chance to comment on new smog pollution standards that advocates say could improve the health of millions in the Empire State. Photo credit: Mike Clifford.
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