The US Environmental Protection Agency released a proposal for new ground-level ozone emission standards today. The new standards will cut smog-causing ozone pollution levels from 75 parts per billion down to between 65 and 70 parts per billion. This change, EPA administrator Gina McCarthy writes in CNN Money today, could lead to healthcare benefits of up to $38 billion by 2025.
Lowering the risk of asthma, heart disease, and premature death
Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA must update air quality standards every five years. The new regulations will affect factories and power plants across the US, reports The New York Times, as they will likely have to install expensive equipment to reduce the levels of pollutants emitted from their smokestacks. According to a study released by the National Association of Manufacturers in July, the new rule would be "the most expensive regulation ever imposed on the American public." But McCarthy says that these changes will help Americans avoid visits to emergency rooms, and reduce the number of days off that workers and students have to take on a regular basis to deal with pollution-related symptoms.
"Thousands of scientific studies... tell us that cutting air pollution to meet ozone standards lowers the risk of asthma, permanent lung damage, cardiovascular harm, and premature death," McCarthy writes. But "bringing ozone pollution standards in line with the latest science is more than just a legal requirement; it empowers the American people."
The EPA now plans to take public comment on lowering ozone emission levels further, down to 60 parts per billion.