If you had the chance to save 7,900 lives every year and prevent 1.8 million annual asthma attacks in children, would you take it?
That is the very question before the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the White House now as we are nearing the final deadline for updated national health-based smog air quality standards.
Smog is a deadly pollutant that contributes to asthma attacks, early deaths, missed school days for kids and more harmful impacts to human health.
- Strong, health-based smog standards would save the lives of 7,900 Americans each year.
- Strong, health-based smog standards would prevent 1.8 million annual asthma attacks in children.
- Strong, health-based standards are essential to ensure that all Americans know whether the air in their neighborhoods and communities is safe to breathe – through the “truth in labeling” that links our nation’s air pollution monitoring system with air quality standards anchored in medical science.
It is well established that our nation’s health-based standards are the very bedrock of our nation’s clean air laws – saving lives and empowering communities with critical air quality information.
What is standing in the way of saving lives and ensuring healthier air for our families and children? A well-funded “sky is falling” campaign by polluters and other naysayers. These big emitters claim that our nation cannot afford protective smog standards. These opponents also attack the science that shows the need for a stronger smog standard, in direct opposition to the more than one thousand peer-reviewed studies that EPA considered while working on updating the health-based standard.
Unfortunately, these “sky is falling” claims are all too familiar. Claims questioning science and fear mongering over economic impacts have been made almost every time we talk about the need for stronger clean air protections – and they have never borne out. Clean air benefits outweigh costs of implementation by about 30 to one, according to a landmark study assessing the Clean Air Act.
It’s worth recalling the outlandish claims made by opponents of the 1997 smog standard. A key Senator from Michigan warned that health-protective smog standards would cause hair salons to go out of business. You’ve probably noticed that we still have a lot of hair salons in America. We also have a lot less smog – and that has saved a lot of lives.
But we could do much better. That’s why I hope that EPA and White House will take this opportunity to lead on clean air — and to ensure longer, healthier lives for millions of Americans in this generation and the next. Let’s save lives. Let’s protect our children and our communities. Let’s rise above the “sky is falling” rhetoric and work together to ensure the sky is clearing — putting medical science, healthy families and health communities first.