Ozone Threats: 5 Things You Need To Know
by Katy Farber
Many of you have heard about President Obama’s recent decision to pull new EPA regulations on ozone, or smog, in America.
EPA head administrator, Lisa Jackson and her agency supported and hoped to move forward on these regulations to protect the public health. They would have saved 1,500 to 12,000 lives, prevented thousands of cases of respiratory infections, asthma attacks and cases of bronchitis per year.
Do you disagree with Obama’s decision? I do…and many, many other organizations do too. But bashing President Obama won’t help us solve the problem.
5 Things You Need To Know About Ozone:
1. Ozone, at ground level, is also known as smog. According to the EPA, it consists of “…motor vehicle exhaust and industrial emissions, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents as well as natural sources emit NOx and VOC that help form ozone.”
2. Ozone is exacerbated by sunlight and hot weather which create unhealthy concentrations of ozone in air.
3. The ozone we need to protect, occurs in the earth’s atmosphere, 10-30 miles above the earth’s surface, where it shields earth from harmful radiation from the sun. Depleted ozone increases global temperatures, causing more extreme weather and harmful climate changes in habitats and in human communities.
4. Ozone depletion can also increase skin cancer, cataracts, and harm animals.
5. The recent news of delaying ozone standards relates to ground level ozone, often called smog, that currently causes multiple health problems and premature deaths across our country.
Who Is At Risk?
According to the American Lung Association, there are 5 specific groups of people vulnerable to the health effects of high rates of ozone, or smog in the air:
1. children and teens
2. people 65 and older
3. people who work or exercise outdoors
4. people with existing lung diseases, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (also *known as COPD, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis)
5. “responders” who are otherwise healthy but for some reason react more strongly to ozone.
The American Lung Association shares these symptoms: shortness of breath; chest pain when inhaling; wheezing and coughing; asthma attacks; increased susceptibility to respiratory infections; increased susceptibility to pulmonary inflammation; and increased need for people with lung diseases, like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), to receive medical treatment and to go to the hospital.
So, who’s at risk? The lives of thousands…especially our most vulnerable.
President Obama’s decision is sadly only one of the current threats to clean air. The TRAIN Act bill, which passed last week in the House is now on its way to the the Senate. The TRAIN Act is a delaying tactic created to protect polluters’ right to pollute.
Don’t take this sitting down. Take Action.
The delay of new ozone standards, and the TRAIN Act are just the tip of the iceberg, which is why we need to be active on several fronts. To protect our kids from toxic air, we need to STOP the current EPA threats in Congress. Stop the TRAIN Act here, by adding your voice.
Join the Moms Clean Air Force to stay informed and to show your support for the right to clean, healthy air for all.
Contact the White House and express your disappointment with the delay of the new life saving ozone standards. If enough of us to do this, the timeline may be moved up. Or use this form from the Environmental Defense Fund to contact the president.
In addition, consider finding out: Where do presidential candidates stand on clean air? We’ve mostly heard that they want to gut the EPA. Let’s stand together with moms and dads all over the country to support candidates, politicians and officials who work for clean, healthy air, water, and soil, and protect our children from air pollution threats.