CALIFORNIA - August 31 - The Environmental Protection Agency today launched the first of five public hearings on a proposal to limit smog pollution across the country. But the limits proposed by the EPA fall short of the health-based standards recommended by EPA's own scientific advisory committee earlier this year.
"Thousands of premature deaths could be averted if the EPA set the smog standard at 60 parts per billion, as recommended by doctors and scientists across the country," said Ben Dunham, Associate Legislative Counsel at Earthjustice. "Cities like Los Angeles and Philadelphia have some of the worst air quality in the nation. It's time EPA and the Bush administration did something to protect our health by strengthening this standard for smog pollution."
This past June, EPA proposed lowering the current standard of 84 parts per billion to somewhere between 70 and 75 parts per billion, a reduction its own scientific advisory panel warned was insufficient to protect public health. The Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee had recommended setting the limit to between 60 and 70 parts per billion.
"If the EPA truly wants to protect public health from asthma and other lung diseases, they'll adopt a limit to smog pollution of 60 parts per billion," said Earthjustice attorney Paul Cort. "From Sacramento to San Diego, some of the dirtiest air in the country is in California. Over 4 million children live every day with asthma, and school days and emergency room visits spike during dirty air days. Smog pollution is choking our country."
Both Dunham and Cort will testify at the EPA public hearings in Philadelphia and Los Angeles, respectively. Clean air activists plan to pack these hearings and three additional hearings in Chicago, Houston and Atlanta on Sept. 5
"High ozone levels are especially dangerous to small children and the elderly," Dunham included in his testimony in Philadelphia. "In this day and age, we ought to be able to provide an environment where it's safe for kids to play outside without parents having to worry that they'll end up in the hospital from just breathing the air. The same goes for senior citizens who want to take walk in the park. The Clean Air Act was created to ensure every American has air that safe's to breathe, and it's EPA's job to adopting standards that make that right a reality."
Read our backgrounder: Urge EPA to Issue Science-Based Smog Rule
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