Health advocates, families tell EPA they want lower ozone standard

| Friday, August 31, 2007

From the American Lung Association to the McCloskey family, one by one the Environmental Protection Agency heard Thursday, Aug. 30, from groups in Philadelphia and Los Angeles about air quality.

Most speakers favored lowering the federal eight-hour ozone standard from .08 parts per million to .07 to .075 parts per million, which the EPA plans to consider approving next year.

The issue could lead to more widespread local truck emissions standards because of the federal government’s ability to withhold highway money for regions that are out of attainment with the EPA’s air-quality standards.

Many residents around L.A. and Philadelphia cited studies linking ozone with asthma and premature deaths.

“I wish you all love, and peace, and light and unity,” said 21-year-old Ciera Morales, according to the Los Angeles Times. Morales told EPA panel member she’s suffered from asthma and bronchitis since childhood. “I have faith you will do the right thing.”

Philadelphia-area respondents commented in their own style.

“Follow the science, follow the law,” said Kevin Stewart, of the American Lung Association, according to the Courier Times. “Issue standards that actually protect public health, that provide a real margin of safety and that don’t lie to the public about the quality of the air they breathe.”

But, not all agreed, the Times reported. In fact, several critics point out that lowering the standard will bring more regions out of compliance and don’t address how to improve air quality.

“We believe it is inappropriate for U.S. EPA to change the current ozone standard,” said Jack Stewart, president of the California Manufacturers and Technology Association.

Stewart said implementing the new standard could cost as much as $22 billion.

“Questions about the science used to justify the lowering of the ozone standard suggest that the Environmental Protection Agency may be proposing regulations that could harm the economy without clearly demonstrated environmental or public health benefits,” he said.

According to the EPA, ozone is a mixture of nitrous oxides and volatile organic compounds that mix in the presence of sunlight. Chemicals, motor vehicles and industrial processes all combine to create ground-level ozone, which is different than stratospheric ozone that protects Earth from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

The EPA will accept comments from residents who visit the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov, by e-mail at a-And-r-docket@epa.gov, or by U.S. mail at:
            EPA Docket Center
            Environmental Protection Agency
            1200 Pennsylvania Ave.
            Washington, DC 20460

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer
charlie_morasch@landlinemag.com

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