Environmental, Health Groups Ask Court to Protect Americans from Ozone Pollution

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Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – January 27, 2014) Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and other health and environmental groups are asking the United States District Court for the Northern District of California to protect Americans from dangerous ozone pollution.

EDF, the American Lung Association, Earthjustice, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club filed a motion with the court last week to ensure that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completes its duty to update national health-based air quality standards for ozone.

“Ozone is a harmful air pollutant that can inflame the lungs and leave people gasping for breath,” said Dr. Elena Craft, health scientist at EDF. “These health effects are especially harmful for children and seniors.”

EPA finalized the current national ozone standards in 2008 at a level of 75 parts per billion – which contradicted unanimous advice from the statutorily-established Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) and from the nation’s leading medical societies. 

Since EPA completed its last review in 2008, additional research has confirmed the harmful impacts of ozone at levels below the current standard, underscoring the urgency of swift action to strengthen the current standard in line with the latest science.    

EPA missed its March, 2013 statutorily-required deadline to complete review of the current ozone standards.

In the motion, EDF and other groups asked that the court require EPA to propose new ozone standards by December of 2014 and finalize new standards by October of 2015. Unfortunately, even such a court-ordered deadline would be more than two years later than the Clean Air Act required EPA action. 

“These standards have been delayed long enough,” said Dr. Craft. “Every year of delay has meant more asthma attacks, hospital visits, and even deaths. It’s high time that EPA move forward with strengthened standards based on science that will protect our families and communities.”

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