The Environmental Protection Agency announced it will reconsider the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone. While almost every state experienced unhealthy levels of ozone this summer as stated in the Environmental Defense Fund’s report, the EPA will review the smog standard in an effort to protect public health and the environment.
Under the Trump administration, the EPA declined to review the ozone, more commonly known as smog, standard leaving the 2015 standards in place.
“The current standard is underprotective and we applaud the administration’s plan to act quickly to issue a new evidence-based standard by December 2023 that is in line with the recommendations of science and public health practitioners like the American Lung Association,” Josh Berman, senior attorney at Sierra Club, said.
Ground-level ozone, which is formulated by pollutants emitted from “heavy industry, fossil fuel power plants, and motor vehicles,” is a “dangerous pollutant that can cause respiratory illness and asthma,” according to the Sierra Club. Ozone is the result of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) reacting in the atmosphere.
“The Environmental Protection Agency now has an opportunity to strengthen our national, health-based standards for ground-level ozone.”
According to the American Lung Association’s 2021 State of the Air report, “more than 123 million people live in communities with high levels of ozone.” Ozone pollution “significantly increases the risk” of both heart and lung diseases, according to Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). The EDF report concluded there is “evidence of ground-level ozone pollution causing increased hospital admissions and emergency department visits for asthma and respiratory infections and possibly increasing rates of asthma development.”
“The Sierra Club appreciates President Biden and Administrator Regan for recognizing the need to review the smog standard and ensure it is adequately protective of public health and welfare,” Berman said.