Friday, June 27, 2014

EPA Science Advisers: Current Smog Standard Way Too Weak -- In Fact, Even the Top of Our Recommended Range May Be Illegally Weak!

EPA's Science Advisers have finally weighed in officially with a recommendation on what the EPA should do to change national health standards for ozone, commonly referred to as smog.  And their letter is a doozy: the scientists not only note that the current standard of 75 parts per billion is too weak -- but that the top part of their own recommended range (60 to 70) may be illegally weak as well!

This recommendation could pose a real dilemma for EPA, whose management has seemed skittish about this key public health issue since a Running-for-Reelection President Obama and his White House henchmen killed an effort in 2011 to set a tougher standard of 70.  (Don't believe me about the skittish remark?  Do a search and find out how often EPA politicos have talked about ozone since 2011.) 

It's going to be tough for EPA to sweep this issue under the rug in light of the scientists' letter.

Based partly on more recent scientific evidence, the scientists assert that even a standard of 70 would mean "adverse" health effects "including decrease in lung function, increase in respiratory symptoms, and increase in airway inflammation" and that "it may not meet the statutory requirement to protect public health with an adequate margin of safety." EPA's staff health risk assessment on this issue noted earlier that smog causes death and disease -- and that the tougher the standard, the lower the expected death rate.

The "policy advice" of the science advisers: set a standard tougher than 70.

A reluctant EPA is under a court order to propose a decision on this issue by December of this year and to make a final decision by October 2015.   

The full letter is here:

Read on for a few highlights from the letter: