Fighting for More Protective Air Standards

by Javier Folgar

The ATC is partnering with the Appalachian Mountain Club and other outdoor recreation groups in a call for stronger ozone pollution protections based on science. The Clean Air Act regulates ozone and methane which are both potent greenhouse gases. Clean Air Act programs that reduce the emissions from tailpipes and smokestacks are essential for both clean air and addressing climate change.  

Please help if you are available by attending the January 29th, 2015 hearing on the Ozone Standards in Washington DC.  

Sign up for a 5 minute time slot by contacting Eloise Shepherd at 919-541-5507 or [email protected]. More information on the hearing can be found here.

It is important that EPA hear from YOU! You may not be an ozone pollution expert but you breathe air and are more at risk from ozone pollution if you exercise outdoors. EPA needs to hear from the people who are impacted by this type of air pollution.  What should you say? I exercise outside (hike, bike, jog, paddle...) and I should be protected from ozone pollution.  I am here because getting outside for healthy exercise is important to me and my family (we love hiking on the weekends, we enjoy playing at the park, my kids love playing soccer, ...). Let EPA know your story!  Read about our position below. In a nutshell you should say "As an ATC member and  hiking enthusiast I support a health standard of 60 parts per billion and ecological standard of 7 parts per million hours".  

Our Position - The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking comments from the public about a proposed plan to strengthen the ozone standards (written comments due by March 17th, 2015).  Pulling from nearly 30 years of studying ozone in the mountains, including the Appalachian Mountain Club’s work on a hiker health study that showed ozone pollution can reduce the lung function of even healthy individuals hiking on Mount Washington, NH, outdoor recreation organizations want to ensure that EPA fully protects children and families who recreate outside. 

The EPA's proposal advances protections by proposing that health and ecological standards be moved from 75 to between 65-70 parts per billion, which is an improvement. However, we are urging the EPA to finalize more protective standard supported by science.  The Clean Air Act (CAA) requires EPA to set ozone standards that will protect public health, including the health of sensitive populations, with an adequate margin of safety. Populations at risk include children, the elderly, people with asthma, and otherwise healthy individuals that work or exercise outdoors.

What we are asking EPA to do - Protect our families that recreate outside from ozone pollution; Set the health standard to 60 parts per billion (ppb)

Science-based studies have demonstrated that healthy young adults experience diminished breathing capacity and airway inflammation at ozone concentrations of 60 ppb 

The EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) has repeatedly recommended an ozone standard in the range of 60 to 70 ppb, identifying 60 ppb as the most protective option, and the only option that would "certainly" provide an adequate margin of safety
Protect sensitive plants and forested lands from ozone pollution; Set the ecological standard to 7 parts per million hours (ppm-hrs)

CASAC is clear that 7 ppm-hrs is protective of ecosystem services provided by public forest lands such as National Parks and Forests, and says it is the only level in which the loss of biomass for key tree species was limited to an acceptable level. Trees that are sensitive to ozone pollution include Black cherry, Aspen, White pine, Tulip poplar, Ponderosa pine, and Red alder.

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