Wednesday, March 22, 2006

EPA: Summer Smog Could Be a Killer

Summer-time smog could be a killer.

That’s one of the conclusions of a new compendium of scientific information on smog (technically ozone) that EPA quietly posted to the internet last evening. See volume I, pages E-17 and 18.

This is a very significant finding and suggests that the EPA should set a tougher national air pollution standard for smog in order to protect people’s health.

The compendium, known technically as a “Criteria Document,” also notes that smog sends children with asthma to hospital emergency rooms, restricts our ability to breathe and causes other bad health effects.

EPA is under a court order to decide by late 2007 whether to revise the current national standard, which was last revised in 1997.

We are concerned that big polluters – the oil, coal, electric power, automobile and chemical industries – will pressure the agency to make a decision based on economics and politics, rather than science.

As you know, the EPA is wrestling with a similar issue as it considers revisions to the national air quality standard for fine particle soot. In that case, the agency – we believe in response to political pressure – has proposed something weaker than recommended by EPA’s own science advisors.

The new EPA findings were bolstered by a recent study, published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences,

which also linked low levels of smog exposure to increased death rates.

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