Indiana Doctors Criticize Senate-Adopted Resolution that Condemns New Clean Air Protections

For Immediate Release

Contact: 
Shane Levy - shane.levy@sierraclub.org, 201-679-9507

Indiana Doctors Criticize Senate-Adopted Resolution that Condemns New Clean Air Protections

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana State Senate voted today to advance Senate Resolution 57, a measure condemning the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed stronger safeguards to reduce dangerous smog pollution.

The U.S. EPA will finalize a proposal this year to reduce the safe level of smog pollution nationwide. In November, the U.S. EPA released its initial smog pollution proposal that reduces the safe level of smog pollution from 75 parts per billion to one in the range of 65 ppb to 70 ppb, while also seeking comment on setting it as low as 60 ppb.

The standard was last updated in 2008 when the Bush administration rejected the recommendations of expert scientists and medical health professionals, who warned 75 ppb was insufficient to protect public health and would leave too many Americans in harm’s way. Over the past six years, scientists, medical experts, and public health advocates have consistently highlighted the need for a stronger standard and have pointed to an ever-growing body of scientific literature that demonstrates significant harm to public health, particularly in vulnerable populations like children, the elderly, and those with breathing ailments like asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

"As a practicing physician, the asthmatics I see dread the bad smog days; they know they must increase their asthma medications and limit their physical and outdoor activities; they worry they will have to come to the clinic or ER for acute asthma. As the air quality worsens, asthmatics’ quality of life often worsens," said Dr. Steve Jay, an Indianapolis physician and Emeritus Professor of Medicine and Public Health at the Indiana University School of Medicine. "It’s critical that current ground-level ozone pollution standards be strengthened to protect the health and well-being of all Hoosiers. These updated smog protections will save lives, reduce hospitalizations, and help reduce the number of asthma attacks our children have as a result of dirty, polluted air."

“The effect of ozone exposure in both causing asthma and bringing on asthma attacks in children, even at relatively low levels, has been well documented. It is a highly reactive substance that penetrates to the deepest and most sensitive parts of the lung. It causes lung inflammation and exposure has been associated with heart arrhythmias,” said Dr. Frank Rosenthal, an Associate Professor of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences at Purdue University in West Lafayette who has studied and published on the health effects of air pollutants including ozone. “Today’s vote puts the Indiana State Senate on record of ignoring this evidence and acting against the health interests of Indiana residents.”

Smog (also known as ground-level ozone) is dumped out of vehicle tailpipes and dirty power plants, and doctors compare the effects of inhaling smog to getting a sunburn on your lungs. According to the American Lung Association (ALA), breathing in smog pollution often results in immediate breathing trouble, and long-term exposure is linked to chronic respiratory and lung diseases like asthma, reproductive and developmental harm, and even premature death.

“Ozone’s impacts on health are serious. Ozone makes most lung diseases worse including bronchitis, emphysema, and pneumonia, as well as asthma. Higher ozone levels increase the risk of hospitalization and emergency room visits for respiratory conditions, and it causes loss of work and school days. So air emissions leading to higher ozone place a significant economic burden on society. Since ozone has serious and well-demonstrated public health impacts at 75 parts per billion and the EPA is acting as mandated by Congress and by a court order in proposing a new standard at 65 to 70, SR 57 is not a sound statement of public policy,” said Dr. Indra Frank, MD, MPH, Environmental Health Project Director at the Hoosier Environmental Council, and Adjunct Professor, focused on environmental toxicology, at the IU Fairbanks School of Public Health.

In its most recent State of the Air report, the American Lung Association gave failing grades for ozone pollution to four of Indiana's most populous counties: Marion County, Lake County, St. Joseph County, and Vanderburgh County. Allen County, the state’s third largest county by population, received a “D” grade.

###

The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.

Share This Article