2017 Press Releases

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EPA’s Failure to Name Ozone Non-Designation Areas Harms Patients; ATS Files Suit


Dec. 4, 2017 – Today, the American Thoracic Society filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, which failed to meet the Oct. 1, 2017 deadline to identify communities where ozone levels exceed the 2015 ozone national air quality standard. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA was required to begin implementation of the 2015 ozone standard. The ATS is one of several societies taking legal action against the EPA.  

“The EPA’s delay in enforcing the ozone standard harms our patients with lung disease,” said Mary Rice, MD, MPH, pulmonologist and vice-chair of the ATS Environmental Health Policy Committee.  “Ozone exposure causes asthma attacks, COPD exacerbations, emergency room visits and even premature death.  EPA’s enforcement delay means patients like ours are denied the healthy air they need to survive.”

The first step to reducing air pollution is when the EPA designates which communities fail to meet its health-based Clean Air Act standards.  By failing to list those communities, the EPA is delaying clean-up efforts across the United States.  It has failed to meet its legal obligations to enforce the Clean Air Act.

The EPA’s delay in reducing air pollution has real life health consequences. Delays in air pollution clean- up mean more exposure to unhealthy levels of ozone and smog.   

 “As a physician who treats patients with severe lung disease, I can prescribe medicine and life style modifications to improve my patients’ health.  But I can’t make the air cleaner for them.  Only the EPA can do that,” added Dr. Rice.