While the EPA ponders whether to set scientifically appropriate new national health standards for ozone, a new study by Harvard researchers has a clear and compelling conclusion: “long-term ozone exposure is associated with increased risk of death.”
In other words, this dirty air is literally lethal.
The study, by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health, has just been published in the online version of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Here is an abstract: http://ajrccm.atsjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/201102-0227OCv1
And here is the bottom line:
“Conclusions: This is the first study that follows persons with specific chronic conditions, and shows that long-term ozone exposure is associated with increased risk of death in these groups.”
There many millions of people in these groups, which include “persons hospitalized with chronic conditions that might predispose to ozone effects: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, congestive heart failure (CHF), and myocardial infarction (MI).”
The full article requires a subscription or purchased access, though I would imagine the good folks at Harvard would be willing to cough up a freebie for the media.
The publication comes as EPA is under political pressure (a lot of it inspired by the dreaded oil industry, and some of it reportedly coming from an address on Pennsylvania Avenue) to keep in place the scientifically inadequate standards set in 2008 by the Bush administration. The argument is that EPA can make any needed changes to the standard later.
As this new study graphically demonstrates, the national smog standards need to be made stronger now. Many more people will die if EPA is forced to make a politically-driven and scientifically deficient decision.