|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 23, 1998
|CONTACT: Clean Air Trust
Norm Childs, 202-785-3355, or
Frank O'Donnell, 202-785-9625,
Lung Association Warns of 'Terrible Summer of Smog'
- June 23 -- Exactly one year after President Clinton
endorsed stricter new health standards for smog and soot, the American Lung Association
revealed today that the new smog standard has already been breached this year in at least
30 states and the District of Columbia.
"This is a shocking discovery, since these problems all occurred even before the
start of summer," said Dr. Alfred Munzer, a pulmonologist and past president of the
"We could be in for a terrible summer of smog," Munzer added. To reduce the
problem in the future, he called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to require
smog-fighting low-sulfur gasoline nationwide and to adopt much stricter tailpipe standards
for future motor vehicles.
"We desperately need these improvements in order to protect our children, our senior
citizens, people with chronic breathing problems and many others from the dangerous
effects of smog," Munzer said. He noted that the president personally endorsed
stricter health-based smog and soot standards on June 24, 1997, despite a
multi-million-dollar disinformation campaign by big polluters
including the oil and auto industries.
The new smog standard measures ground-level ozone (smog) over an 8-hour period of
exposure. The old standard only measured one-hour peaks of the pollutant. Ground-level
ozone is produced when nitrogen oxides (principally from motor vehicles and power plants)
mixes in sunlight with volatile organic compounds (principally from motor vehicles,
refineries and other smokestack industries). Studies have linked ozone to tens of
thousands of emergency room visits annually. The pollutant also causes an array of other
Information obtained from state government agencies shows that the new smog standard has
already been breached literally hundreds of times this year. The information discloses
that virtually every state in the Eastern half of the country -- with the exception of
Vermont and Rhode Island -- already has experienced smog above the legal level. Alabama is
refusing to disclose 8-hour monitoring results, although smog problems have occurred in
"This information shows that smog isn't just a problem in California and the
Northeast," said Munzer. "Some of the biggest dangers are in the Midwest and
Southeast. It's clear that we need national solutions to these persistent problems."
One solution is cleaner, low-sulfur gasoline, noted Michael Walsh, former director of
EPA's motor vehicle cleanup program and a consultant to the Lung Association. Most
gasoline sold outside of California contains high levels of sulfur, Walsh explained. He
noted that high levels of sulfur impede the performance of pollution control equipment and
lead to more tailpipe pollution.
The Lung Association is urging EPA to require national gasoline sulfur levels to be
reduced at least to that of the cleaner California gasoline. "This would produce an
immediate reduction in smog and would dramatically enhance the performance of advanced
`low-emission' vehicles," Walsh said. He noted that EPA also is examining the need
for stricter tailpipe standards starting in model year 2004. A recent EPA analysis noted
that at least 90 million Americans will still be living in dirty-air areas nearly a decade
from now unless tailpipe standards are made much stricter.
To alleviate future smog problems, the Lung Association is calling on EPA to:
-- Follow an initiative by California to require much stricter tailpipe standards;
-- Require that smog-belching sport utility vehicles and minivans meet the same tailpipe
standards as passenger cars;
-- Make sure diesel passenger vehicles meet the same tailpipe standards as gasoline
-- Allow American consumers to buy the same advanced technology vehicles that will be sold
in Japan and Europe; and
-- Require older, more polluting electric power utility plants to meet the same pollution
control requirements as newer power plants.
Note: The list of states with air quality problems is available.
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