- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued new rules to reduce ozone pollution, primarily originating from industrial and power plants. These regulations aim to lower the current ozone pollution level from 75 parts per billion to between 65 and 70 parts per billion.
- While environmental groups have welcomed this initiative, they desired a stricter limit of 60 parts per billion. The EPA has indicated that it may consider public opinion on this limit, implying that the final ruling could be more stringent than the initially proposed limit.
- The proposed constraints have met with resistance from industrial circles, arguing that they could harm the economy while delivering negligible public health benefits.
- A reduction in ozone levels is crucial in improving public health, and will ultimately help save lives, according to health experts. These new ozone standards form part of the EPA’s efforts to combat air pollution and are expected to be followed by regulations targeting greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants next year.
Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared new guidelines to decrease ozone pollution from industrial plants and power stations. Ozone, a key ingredient of smog, has been associated with various health issues such as heart disease, premature death and asthma.
Overview of the New Regulations
The introduced regulations intend to decrease the current ozone pollution threshold from 75 parts per billion to a range between 65 and 70 parts per billion, according to EPA.
“Aligning ozone pollution standards with the latest science will enhance the quality of our air, improve access to vital air quality information, and shield the most vulnerable,” Gina McCarthy, the EPA Administrator, said in a press announcement.
Is the Limit Adequate?
As reported by the New York Times, the current proposed limit for ozone emissions is less than what environmental groups were hoping for – a limit of 60 parts per billion. Nonetheless, public sentiments and views regarding the 60-parts-per-billion limit shall be sought by the EPA, suggesting that the final ruling could be lower than the proposed one.
Public health organizations have long been advocating for reductions in ozone emissions. Harold Wimmer, president of the American Lung Association, described the EPA’s plan to fortify the standard as progress in the struggle to shield every American from the hazards of inhaling ozone pollution, particularly children, older adults and those with lung or heart disease.
However, Wimmer argues that more needs to be done – insisting that the EPA should have set the standard at 60 parts per billion, a measure strongly recommended by independent scientists and health and medical associations, including the American Lung Association.
Nevertheless, the proposed limitations have been met with resistance from industrial groups who argue that they will damage the economy and provide minimal public health benefits.
“The quality of air has dramatically improved over the last decades, and it will continue improving under the existing regulations,” stated Howard Feldman, Director of Regulatory Affairs for the American Petroleum Institute. “The current review of health studies does not provide substantial evidence for stricter standards, and the current regulations safeguard public health,” he added.
Health Experts’ Take
Meanwhile, two pulmonary health experts concur that the new standards have been long overdue. Dr. Marc Wilkenfeld, chief of the division of occupational and environmental medicine at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y. stated, “A reduction in ozone levels is a critical factor in improving public health. The reduction will ultimately save lives.”
These new ozone standards are just one in a series of actions taken by the EPA to curtail air pollution. The agency is projected to finalize two new regulations next year, aimed at diminishing greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Informative resources on air pollution can be found at the American Lung Association.