## EPA Proposes New Tougher Ground-Level Ozone Standards

##### 07 January 2010
 Counties projected to violate proposed Primary 8-hour Ground-Level Ozone Standards in 2020. Source: EPA. Click to enlarge.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has proposed the strictest standards to date for ground-level ozone. Ground-level ozone forms when emissions from industrial facilities, power plants, landfills and motor vehicles react in the sun.

The agency is proposing to set the “primary” standard, which protects public health, at a level between 0.060 and 0.070 parts per million (ppm) measured over eight hours. EPA is also proposing to set a separate “secondary” standard to protect the environment within the range of 7-15 ppm-hours. This seasonal standard is designed to protect plants and trees from damage occurring from repeated ozone exposure, which can reduce tree growth, damage leaves, and increase susceptibility to disease.

In September 2009 Administrator Jackson announced that EPA would reconsider the existing ozone standards, set at 0.075 ppm in March 2008. As part of its reconsideration, EPA conducted a review of the science that guided the 2008 decision, including more than 1,700 scientific studies and public comments from the 2008 rulemaking process. EPA also reviewed the findings of the independent Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, which recommended standards in the ranges of the new proposal.

EPA is proposing an accelerated schedule for designating areas for the primary ozone standard. Also, EPA is taking comment on whether to designate areas for a seasonal secondary standard on an accelerated schedule or a 2-year schedule. The accelerated schedule would be:

• By January 2011: States make recommendations for areas to be designated attainment, nonattainment or unclassifiable.

• By July 2011: EPA makes final area designations.

• August 2011 Designations become effective.

• December 2013: State Implementation Plans, outlining how states will reduce pollution to meet the standards, are due to EPA.

• 2014 to 2031: States are required to meet the primary standard, with deadlines depending on the severity of the problem.

Ground-level ozone (smog) is linked to a number of serious health problems, ranging from aggravation of asthma to increased risk of premature death in people with heart or lung disease. Ozone can also harm otherwise healthy people who work and play outdoors.

Depending on the level of the final standard, the proposal would yield health benefits between $13 billion and$100 billion, according to the EPA. This proposal would help reduce premature deaths, aggravated asthma, bronchitis cases, hospital and emergency room visits and days when people miss work or school because of ozone-related symptoms. Estimated costs of implementing this proposal range from $19 billion to$90 billion.

EPA will take public comment for 60 days after the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register. The agency will hold three public hearings on the proposal: 2 Feb. 2010 in Arlington, Va. and in Houston; and 4 Feb. 2010 in Sacramento.

I can remember L.A. smog being so bad that you could not breath deeply because it hurt. Environmental laws have helped to keep L.A. from becoming another Mexico City, but we have a long ways to go.

SJC

Lowering ozone limits 5-10 ppb will not change air quality in the LA basin because it is much higher there but increase the number of locations without a problem being listed as having a problem.

When you go back to the EPA documents, it is interesting what gets left off.

“Alternatively, if there is no causal relationship between ozone and mortality, avoided premature deaths associated with reduced ozone exposure would be zero and total monetized ozone-related morbidity benefits would be \$190 million/yr.”

One could draw the common sense conclusion that tougher standards will have no health benefits just increase EPA oversight.

If the nanny state is useless in California, why not more nanny state for the rest of us.

Higher standards for everyone is good for everyone. These levels are attainable without causing any hardship to anyone. It takes goals like this for everyone to get going and quit making excuses.

I see you do not understand the issue SJC. Having a standard that protects the public health is good for everyone. We already have that; a higher stander does not provide more protection, just more government regulation. How is more costly regulations good for anyone?

The higher standard does not protect SJC because his location is not even close to meeting any standard.

In 2008, Basin Maximum 8-hour Average = 131 ppb and exceeded the 75 ppb standard 120 days.
http://www.aqmd.gov/smog/o3trend.html

Does SJC even know what 5 ppb is?

Where I live and most places in the US, air quality is always good and the proposed change makes no difference. For those who think a 5 ppb change is significant, go back to school and take some science classes.

The New England Journal of Medicine chimed in on the subject in March, 2009.

Long-Term Ozone Exposure and Mortality
http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/360/11/1085
- - - - - -
. . . Conclusions In this large study, we were not able to detect an effect of ozone on the risk of death from cardiovascular causes when the concentration of PM2.5 was taken into account. We did, however, demonstrate a significant increase in the risk of death from respiratory causes in association with an increase in ozone concentration. . .

. . . For every 10-ppb increase in exposure to ozone, we observed an increase in the risk of death from respiratory causes of about 2.9% in single-pollutant models and 4% in two-pollutant models. Although this increase may appear moderate, the risk of dying from a respiratory cause is more than three times as great in the metropolitan areas with the highest ozone concentrations as in those with the lowest ozone concentrations. . .

. . . There is biologic plausibility for a respiratory effect of ozone. In laboratory studies, ozone can increase airway inflammation and can worsen pulmonary function and gas exchange. In addition, exposure to elevated concentrations of tropospheric ozone has been associated with numerous adverse health effects, including the induction26 and exacerbation of asthma, pulmonary dysfunction, and hospitalization for respiratory causes. . .
- - - - - -

The New England Journal of Medicine chimed in on the subject in March, 2009.

Long-Term Ozone Exposure and Mortality
http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/360/11/1085
- - - - - -
. . . Conclusions In this large study, we were not able to detect an effect of ozone on the risk of death from cardiovascular causes when the concentration of PM2.5 was taken into account. We did, however, demonstrate a significant increase in the risk of death from respiratory causes in association with an increase in ozone concentration. . .

. . . For every 10-ppb increase in exposure to ozone, we observed an increase in the risk of death from respiratory causes of about 2.9% in single-pollutant models and 4% in two-pollutant models. Although this increase may appear moderate, the risk of dying from a respiratory cause is more than three times as great in the metropolitan areas with the highest ozone concentrations as in those with the lowest ozone concentrations. . .

. . . There is biologic plausibility for a respiratory effect of ozone. In laboratory studies, ozone can increase airway inflammation and can worsen pulmonary function and gas exchange. In addition, exposure to elevated concentrations of tropospheric ozone has been associated with numerous adverse health effects, including the induction26 and exacerbation of asthma, pulmonary dysfunction, and hospitalization for respiratory causes. . .
- - - - - -

KitP,

All you want to do is argue. I have seen you do this before. Do not resort to insults, that is what children do.

As I see it storky from info you posted that adding more places with infrequent ‘lowest ozone concentrations’ will not do very much.

“Although this increase may appear moderate, the risk of dying from a respiratory cause is more than three times as great in the metropolitan areas with the highest ozone concentrations as in those with the lowest ozone concentrations.
Although this increase may appear moderate, the risk of dying from a respiratory cause is more than three times as great in the metropolitan areas with the highest ozone concentrations as in those with the lowest ozone concentrations.”

This study also looks at periods before 2000 and as can be seen by LA Basin data air quality has improved even there.

Are we trying regulate when the problem has been fixed already?

Kit P,

Regulation works, saves lives, improves the quality of life and offers a higher benefit to cost ratios than the status quo. We wouldn't need a "nanny state" if businesses were voluntary good neighbors. So we regulate, and reap the benefits.

Industry and business has opposed adopting even the most obvious and innocuous health and safety policies without the threat of penalties. They have been deferring the costs of processes and products that endanger consumers and damage the environment onto the local populace, employees, hospitals, insurers, government agencies and ultimately tax payers. Its long past time that those calculations be considered part of the product development budget and the price of doing business.

Storky, you provided the same general argument that SJC did without considering the specifics of this case. You assume the government is justified and blame business and industry.

My point is that existing regulation are adequate and the proposed change is only hype. Where do you live storky? Tell me specifically how this 5-10 ppb change will affect you and not generalities.

My point is that existing regulation are adequate and the proposed change is only hype.

You have not supported that assertion. Those with positions that conflict with you provided peer-reviewed scientific studies. Guess who is winning the debate hands down?

The comments to this entry are closed.