The United States Environmental Protection Agency today announced a set of new proposed National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone, also known as “smog”. Ground-level ozone is linked to various serious health problems, ranging from aggravation of asthma to increased risk of premature death in people with heart or lung disease. EPA is proposing to replace the standards set in 2008 by the Bush administration. Those standards were roundly criticized as inadequate to protect human health as required by the Clean Air Act. EPA’s press statement states: “EPA is stepping up to protect Americans from one of the most persistent and widespread pollutants we face. Smog in the air we breathe poses a very serious health threat, especially to children and individuals suffering from asthma and lung disease. It dirties our air, clouds our cities, and drives up health care costs across the country.”
The new primary standard, developed to protect public health, is proposed to be a level between 0.060 and 0.070 parts per million (ppm) measured over eight hours. The current eight-hour primary standard is 0.075 parts per million (ppm). EPA is also proposing to set a separate “secondary” standard to protect the environment, especially plants and trees. This seasonal standard is designed to protect plants and trees from damage due to ozone exposure,
EPA will receive public comments on the proposed rule for a period of sixty days from the date the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register. We’ll update this post with a link to the Federal Register notice when it is published.
FIRST UPDATE: EPA has announced public hearings on this ozone NAAQS rulemaking. See the public notice for details of the EPA hearings scheduled for Arlington, Virginia and Houston,Texas on February 2, 2010 and in Sacramento, California on Feburary 4, 2010.
SECOND UPDATE: January 19, 2009: EPA today published the Federal Register notice on the proposed rule to revise the NAAQS for ozone. A copy of the proposed rulemaking is available online at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/2010-340.htm. Written comments to EPA are due by March 22, 2010. Comments may be submitted electronically to http://www.regulations.gov (follow the on-line instructions) and via e-mail to: a-and-r-Docket@epa.gov