Yesterday, 14 major health groups issued a letter to the President regarding the interposing delays in issuance of the ozone national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS). For over a year, the administration has held up announcement of the standard, even though EPA Administrator has stated that the previous standard was “scientifically indefensible.”
The letter from the health groups highlights the implications that the continued delay has on public health:
“This marks the fourth delay of this lifesaving health standard. This work was originally
scheduled for completion nearly one year ago in August 2010. Each day of delay postpones the
start of the implementation of these standards and the lifesaving pollution cleanup. We urge you
to finalize the most protective standard, and do so immediately.
The ozone health standard must protect those who are most vulnerable from the dangerous health impacts of ozone, including infants, children, older adults, and those with chronic diseases. To safeguard the health of the American people, help to save lives, and reduce health care spending, we support the most protective standard under consideration: 60 parts per billion (ppb) averaged over eight hours.”
As the letter indicates, no one is immune to the harmful effects of air pollution, especially those who are more vulnerable because of underlying heart or respiratory disease. Just last week, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey suffered an asthma attack while riding to a morning event in Hillsborough, NJ. While we can’t say that ozone was the primary cause for the Governor’s hospitalization, we know from science that ozone or smog can cause asthma attacks, coughing and wheezing, and shortness of breath. Breathing unhealthy levels of smog creates serious health risks, resulting in increased health care costs of approximately $20.7 billion per year. Multiple studies show that ozone actually can kill people.
We urge the President to maintain his commitment to science by following the guidance of our nation’s leading health experts and implement a health protective ozone standard. Millions of Americans, including the 23.3 million who suffer from asthma, are depending on him.
To subscribe to the daily air quality forecast update to track ozone in Texas, visit TCEQ’s webpage.