Groups petition EPA for stricter ozone standards

Health and environmental advocates are expected to make their case for stricter ozone standards at an Environmental Protection Agency hearing today.

Earthjustice, the American Lung Association, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council are asking the EPA to adopt a 60 parts per billion National Ambient Air Quality Standard under the Clean Air Act. 

In November, the EPA proposed strengthening the 75 parts per billion smog standard set in 2008 to a standard between 65 and 70 parts per billion. 

“Mountains of evidence now link ozone to serious health impacts, including bronchitis, asthma attacks, emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and premature deaths,” David Baron, managing attorney at Earthjustice, said in a statement.

“Leading medical societies have called for a 60 parts per billion standard — the most protective option EPA science advisors recommended — so EPA should follow the science and do its job to protect public health.” 

According to the American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2014 report, more than 147.6 million people — 47 percent of the nation — live where pollution levels are often too dangerous to breathe.

The EPA’s analysis shows that setting a standard of 60 ppb would prevent up to 7,900 premature deaths, 1.8 million asthma attacks in children and 1.9 million missed school days each year, the American Lung Association said in a news release.