2014 Press Releases

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ATS Applauds EPA's Proposed National Ambient Air Quality Standard for Ozone

November 26, 2014 -- The American Thoracic Society welcomes today’s announcement by  the Environmental Protection Agency of a lower National Ambient Air Quality  Standard for ozone. The ATS has long supported an 8-hour ozone standard of 0.060 parts per million (ppm)  to best protect public health.

“The body of scientific evidence supporting the health benefits of a lower ozone standard has grown substantially in the last few  years,” said John R. Balmes, MD, a pulmonary critical care physician and chair of the ATS Environmental Health Policy  Committee. “Ozone pollution has been linked to low birth weight, decreased  lung function and other respiratory problems in infants and children, worse  asthma control in both children and adults, and with cardiovascular disease and  increased mortality in adults.”

“While  some evidence shows that ozone exposure below 0.060 ppm also has adverse health  effects, the strongest data support the connection between exposure at levels above  0.060 ppm and serious adverse health effects in people of all ages.”

The recent evidence linking ozone  pollution and adverse health effects includes studies showing dose-response  relationships between ozone exposure and hospital admissions for asthma in  children and hospital admissions for asthma and COPD in adults, lung function  deficits in healthy adults exposed to ozone at levels between 0.060 and 0.070  ppm, and an increased mortality risk associated with ozone exposure, primarily  affecting the elderly and patients with chronic diseases.

Following the EPA’s adoption of new standards for motor  vehicle emissions, cleaner fuels, and carbon emissions from power plants,  today’s announcement of a stricter ozone standard will significantly improve  public health and save lives.

For further comment, Dr. Balmes, professor of  medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, can be reached at jbalmes@medsfgh.ucsf.edu.