Web Date: April 24, 2008
Costs Of Smog
When EPA sets an air quality standard for ozone, its needs to consider that this pollutant likely contributes to premature deaths, the National Research Council says in a new report.
The report helps settle a controversy over whether EPA should factor in premature deaths due to ozone exposure when it analyzes the potential health benefits from a tighter standard for this pollutant. Ozone, a major component of smog, is linked to heart and lung problems.
"The report is a rebuke to the Bush Administration, which has consistently tried to downplay the connection between smog and premature death," Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, says.
The NRC report, released April 22, says short-term exposure to ozone pollution is likely to contribute to people dying prematurely, especially those with existing heart or lung disease. Deaths related to short-term exposure may not occur for several days afterward and may be linked to several short-term exposures, the report says.
EPA, which requested the NRC report, is likely to take years to apply the advice on premature deaths to the national air quality standard for ozone. This is because the agency just updated the ozone standard in March (C&EN, March 17, page 12).
But the agency could consider the link to premature death as it establishes controls on emissions linked to the formation of ozone. This could affect EPA's planned emissions standards for gasoline-powered lawn mowers and boat motors.
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