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EPA Delays Action on New Ozone Standard
This week, the EPA announced that it would not take action to immediately revise the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone and would instead conduct a multi-year process to review the adequacy of the current standard of 70 ppb/8 hours. The EPA’s inaction ignores the advice of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee – a panel of air pollution experts convened by the EPA to give the agency scientific and policy advice – which strongly recommended a revised standard between 55 – 60 ppb as the current standard is not protective.

In response to the EPA’s announced delayed action on the ozone standard, American Thoracic Society President M. Patricia Rivera, MD, ATSF, commented, “Adult and pediatric pulmonologists, critical care, and sleep medicine physicians and pulmonary medicine advanced practitioners in almost every state are witnessing in their patients the negative health impacts of high levels of ozone air pollution. Continued exposure to ozone in lung cells is akin to a sunburn on your skin. Prolonged exposure endangers the lung health of millions of Americans, disproportionately impacting low-income and communities of color.

“The current EPA level of allowable air pollution is too high and must be lowered. “We strongly encourage the U.S. EPA to follow the science and implement best practices for public health now, not later.”

The ATS Health of the Air report estimates that if the U.S. met the ATS recommended standard of 60 ppb of ozone (O3), 3,670 premature deaths could be avoided and a combined 14,890 avoidable morbidity episodes, such as asthma attacks, COPD exacerbations, emergency room visits, and hospitalizations, could be avoided with a more protective standard of 60 ppb.
Last Reviewed: September 2023