EPA won’t tighten carbon monoxide standards

At high levels, carbon monoxide emissions, which most commonly come from motor vehicles, can block oxygen from reaching the heart and brain.

The American Lung Association blasted the EPA’s decision Monday.

“Millions of Americans are unprotected by the current air quality standards for carbon monoxide,” ALA President Charles Connor said in a statement. “Children with asthma and adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease should be free to work or play outdoors without fear that air pollution will trigger asthma attacks or worsen their ability to breathe and send them to the hospital.”

Clean Air Watch President Frank O’Donnell said in a statement that the EPA ignored the advice of the public-health community in not strengthening the CO emission standard.

“It’s disappointing,” O’Donnell said. “EPA does not deserve a passing grade for this one. EPA followed the wishes of the oil and car companies rather than the advice of the public health community.”

Though the EPA decided not to strengthen the current standard, the agency said it would tighten current monitoring requirements “to ensure people are protected from unhealthy concentrations of CO and to develop better information about CO and its health impacts.”

The move is the latest disappointment for clean-air and public-health advocates. It comes after the EPA delayed much-anticipated updated ozone standards.

“We can only hope this is not a precedent for the more crucial ozone decision,” O’Donnell said of the carbon monoxide decision.