Analysis Shows Smog In Many Polluted Areas May Get Worse

Environmental Defense Finds EPA Proposal Would Allow Increased Pollution From Motor Vehicles

December 18, 2003
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(18 December 2003)  According to a new analysis released today by Environmental Defense, smog-forming chemical pollution from motor vehicles in every one of a dozen major metropolitan areas examined would be allowed to grow by 10 to 52% in 2007 and beyond under a proposed regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Despite cleaner vehicles and fuel, motor vehicles remain a large source of pollutants that form health-threatening smog, accounting for a quarter to half of such emissions.  The full analysis is available at www.environmentaldefense.org/go/conformity.

The proposed regulation of pollution from motor vehicles is part of EPA's transition to stronger ozone air quality standards, which are intended to protect children and other vulnerable populations from air pollution that leads to respiratory ailments, hospital admissions and lung damage.  EPA is taking comments on the rule until Monday, December 22. 

"Ozone standards have resulted in progress to improve public health by reducing pollution, and EPA's transition to stronger standards should support that progress not diminish it," said Environmental Defense transportation director Michael Replogle.  "Starting in 2005, EPA?s proposal would allow nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds from motor vehicles to increase 10% to 52% by 2007 and beyond.  This could put dozens of polluted metro areas over adopted pollution limits, violating the weaker old health standards and making attainment of the new standard harder.?

"This rule would remove critical public health protections in dozens of regions before new smog standards are in force, rolling back existing clean air safeguards," said Environmental Defense health program director, physician, Dr. John Balbus.  "EPA also proposes to avoid looking at the effect of transportation on fine-particle air pollution hot spots which cause huge health problems. Already more than 80% of the cancer risk from air pollutants nationwide is from mobile sources.  EPA's proposal will make it easier to fast-track approval of new sprawl-inducing highways, but will likely send more children to hospital emergency rooms, as well as increasing the exposure of millions of Americans to hazardous mobile source air toxics."

Motor vehicles are a significant source of the volatile organic hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides that combine in the presence of heat and sunlight to form smog.