SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct 1, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced updated National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone, a life-threatening air pollutant.
"For far too long, our nation has been living with an outdated standard that has left millions of Americans, including California residents, in harm's way, breathing unsafe levels of ozone pollution. This new standard is a step in the right direction and offers significantly greater protection than the old standard," said Olivia Gertz, President & CEO of the American Lung Association in California.
Once met, the standard will prevent hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks and hundreds of premature deaths in California annually.
Ozone irritates and inflames the lungs and the respiratory system. Scientists, physicians and the health community at large have long recognized ozone's potential to cause premature death. Unsafe levels of ozone can cause difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing and asthma attacks, and can result in trips to the emergency room and admissions to the hospital. Ground level ozone is the nation's most widespread air pollutant and a primary component of smog.
"California experiences some of the worst ozone pollution in the country," said Gertz. "In fact the only two areas classified as "extreme" by the federal EPA are here in our state. Those hit hardest by pollution, including millions of California residents with asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema as well as seniors and children are depending on the federal clean air standards for protection. While the new standard is a needed step forward, we must continue working toward a stronger level of protection,"
"Everyone deserves protection from ozone pollution, especially those who are most at risk of being harmed by ozone. This includes the five million people with asthma in California, including one million children, as well as people with low incomes and those who work or play outside," said Dr. Afif El-Hasan, volunteer physician and governing board member of the American Lung Association in California.
More than 1,000 health and medical professionals nationwide, as well as local medical and health organizations, including the California Thoracic Society, Lung Cancer Foundation, and many others have consistently voiced strong support for a standard that would best protect health.
"The Lung Association in California looks forward to the benefits to the health of California residents that these steps to meet the updated standard will bring. We urge California elected officials to defend the Clean Air Act against any attacks that would block, weaken or delay these benefits," said Gertz. "California communities deserve nothing less."
About the American Lung Association in California
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is "Fighting for Air" through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.lung.org/california.
CONTACT: Maria Bernabe,
P: (o) 310-735-9184; (c) 818-625-1810 E: Maria.Bernabe@lung.org
SOURCE American Lung Association in California