EPA technical experts recommend strengthening health safeguards for ground-level ozone pollution, commonly known as smog

September 2, 2014
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

New technical analysis from expert staff at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adds to the growing body of evidence that our current health-based ozone standard must be strengthened to protect Americans from the dangerous pollution more commonly known as smog, according to Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

The report by EPA staff recommends Administrator Gina McCarthy tighten the national health-based standard for ground-level ozone from its current level of 75 parts per billion to a health protective standard that ranges between 60 to 70 parts per billion. An independent panel of scientists made a similar recommendation to EPA earlier this year.

“We know that ground-level ozone, or smog, is a dangerous air pollutant that is linked to asthma attacks and other serious heart and lung diseases. Scientific evidence continues to mount demonstrating that we need to strengthen our nation’s ozone standard in order to protect public health,” said Dr. Elena Craft, EDF Health Scientist. “We urge EPA to move forward with a more protective health-based standard without delay.” 

EPA finalized the current national ground-level ozone standards in 2008 at 75 parts per billion – which contradicted unanimous advice from the statutorily-established Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) and from the nation’s leading medical societies. 

According to a 2010 analysis by EPA, a standard of 60 parts per billion would, when met:

  • Prevent up to 12,000 premature deaths
  • Prevent up to 21,000 hospitalizations
  • Provide $100 billion in associated economic benefits

EPA has a court deadline of December 1st to propose a national ozone standard that protects the health of America’s communities and families.  EDF, together with public health and environmental associations, has taken legal action to compel EPA to carry out these responsibilities under our nation’s clean air laws. 

# # #

Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading national nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on EDF Voices, Twitter and Facebook.