Urging stronger air quality standards

Date: Mar 18 2015


Contact: Kimberly Short, 202-777-2511

Health Professionals across the Nation Urge EPA to Finalize Most Protective Ozone Air Quality Standard

1,076 Physicians, Nurses, Respiratory Therapists, Public Health Professionals from all 50 states and the District of Columbia sent letter to Administrator McCarthy calling for most protective ozone air quality standard to protect public health

WASHINGTON, D.C., (March 17, 2015) – Today, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency public comment period closes for the proposed Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard, nearly 1,100 health and medical professionals from all 50 states and the District of Columbia joined together in a letter urging EPA to adopt the most protective standard under consideration - 60 parts per billion (ppb).

“The science is clear. A more protective standard is needed to protect the health of millions of Americans breathing polluted air every day,” said Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “The support we’ve seen from the health and medical community nationwide reinforces the urgent need for a stronger ozone standard.”

“The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set the ozone standard at a level that protects public health, based on the scientific evidence. A standard of 60 ppb will offer the greatest protection for vulnerable populations and help us achieve the promise of the Clean Air Act."

The EPA's panel of expert science advisors, the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, reviewed the scientific evidence and unanimously concluded that EPA needs to strengthen the standard. A standard that follows the scientific evidence will protect those most vulnerable to the effects of air pollution, including children, seniors and people with asthma and other chronic lung diseases. According to EPA, a standard of 60 ppb would prevent up to 7,900 premature deaths and 1.8 million childhood asthma attacks in 2025 alone.

"I rely on the air quality index to let me know when the smog level is over the limit and I should stay indoors," said letter signer, Beckie Geary, a registered nurse from North Carolina who signed the letter. "Right now that limit is out of date. There can be days when it's not safe for me to go outside and I might not even know it. We have the right to know what's in our air. That's why I am calling on the EPA to set a new limit on ozone that truly protects our health."

Geary knows from personal experience the challenges of lung disease: she not only has asthma but is also a lung cancer survivor. With only one healthy lung remaining, Geary knows clean air is critical to her quality of life, and traveled to the EPA’s public hearing in Washington, D.C., in January to deliver that message.

“For far too long, millions of Americans have been living with a weak and outdated standard,” said Georges Benjamin, MD, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association. “As physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and other public health professionals stated clearly in our letter to Administrator Gina McCarthy, EPA must adopt the strongest standard to protect the American people from the real dangers of ozone pollution no later than October 1, 2015."


Nationwide Benefits of Attaining Standard in 2025
Throughout the United States (excluding California)


60 ppb

65 ppb

70 ppb

Premature Deaths Avoided in 2025




Asthma Attacks Avoided in Children in 2025




Respiratory Hospital Admissions Avoided  in 2025




Asthma Emergency Department Visits Avoided in 2025




Missed School Days Avoided in 2025





About the American Public Health Association
The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We strengthen the public health profession. We speak out for public health issues and policies backed by science. We are the only organization that influences federal policy, has a 140-plus year perspective and brings together members from all fields of public health. Visit www.apha.org

About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.