August 21, 2023 – Chicago, IL – Under the guise of ‘needs more study’ the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today made a decision that ensures Americans will continue to breathe more dangerous ozone smog for many years to come. Rather than proposing a tighter ozone health standard early next year as expected, it has now halted any improvement and deferred further action until 2025 or later.
Scientists officially advising EPA on its air standards made it abundantly clear, based on scientific information that was available years ago, that the current health standard is too weak, does not protect vulnerable groups, and should be strengthened to 55-60 parts per billion (ppb) from the current 70 ppb.
“EPA’s decision will hurt the millions of people who disproportionately suffer the health impacts of poor air quality,” said Joel Africk, RHA President and CEO. “Respiratory Health Association will continue to fight for healthy lungs and clean air for all, especially for the young, seniors, and people living with lung and heart disease and other chronic medical conditions.”
Illinois records ozone smog levels at 33 locations around the state. Even using the inadequate existing ozone health standard set back in 2015, all of those air quality monitoring stations have seen multiple days this year where caustic ozone gas levels exceeded national health standards. Some monitoring stations in the Chicago region saw 20 such days so far this summer.
EPA is also reviewing the adequacy of the fine particle “soot” health standard and, barring any reversal there, is still expected to announce a final decision by the end of this year on the need to reduce deadly fine particles in the air from fossil fuel power plants and motor vehicles.