1 May 2002

The American Lung Association’s “State of the Air 2002” report concludes that more than 142 million Americans are still breathing unhealthy amounts of ozone air pollution. It has been the third straight year in which unhealthy ozone levels reached half of the American public. The findings are compounded by the reality that, due to a series of legal and management delays, states are relying on weak federal clean air standards in place since 1979, says the American Lung Association (ALA).

The 10 most ozone polluted metropolitan areas are Los Angeles-Riverside-Orange County, CA; Bakersfield, CA; Fresno, CA; Visalia-Tulare-Porterville, CA; Houston-Galveston-Brazoria, TX; Atlanta, GA; Merced, CA; Knoxville, TN; Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SC; and Sacramento-Yolo, CA.

The ALA has criticized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for continued delays in implementing the 1997 ozone standards and proposals to roll back the “New Source Review” provision of the Clean Air Act.

The US is still using the ozone standard set in 1979, despite EPA’s own adoption of tighter standards five years ago. EPA issued a new, final National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone in 1997 but has not yet designated “nonattainment areas” for the new ozone standard (although required to do so legally by 2001), said the ALA.

Secondly, says the ALA, EPA is considering scrapping a provision of the Clean Air Act called New Source Review, which requires approximately 17,000 of the nation’s oldest and dirtiest power plants, oil refineries, and other industrial facilities to meet emissions standards applicable to new facilities by installing up-to-date pollution control devices. Rolling back the New Source Review protections would be the greatest attempt to weaken the Clean Air Act since its enactment.

The Lung Association also said it supports the 2007 diesel regulations, issued by the EPA in January 2001, to significantly limit tailpipe emissions from new heavy-duty diesel bus and truck engines and require cleaner diesel fuel.

The State of the Air 2002 Report

Source: American Lung Association