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Chance to Sound Off on Smog Pollution

PHOTO: The EPA holds hearing today on smog pollution and advocates say the updated regulations could impact more than 100,000 in the Granite State who suffer from asthma. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
PHOTO: The EPA holds hearing today on smog pollution and advocates say the updated regulations could impact more than 100,000 in the Granite State who suffer from asthma. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
January 29, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. – It's an issue that impacts more than 100,000 Granite Staters that suffer from asthma and tens of thousands more.

At issue is how the nation should update standards for smog pollution, otherwise known as ground-level ozone.

Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of American Public Health Association, says ozone is an air pollutant and a byproduct of the emissions from tailpipes and smokestacks.

"It exacerbates people with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and it causes not only just these attacks but can cause premature death and other morbidity,” he says. “It's a significant problem, and we can address it by reducing the amount of ozone that's produced."

Industry leaders argue that the new proposed limits are expensive and current standard of 75 parts per billion is already working for ozone.

But, Benjamin says, science tells us that we can save more lives by bringing that number down.

Today's hearing in the nation's capital kicks off at 9 a.m.

The American Petroleum Institute says it is both costly and unnecessary to update the regulations.

But Paul Billings, senior vice president for advocacy and education with the American Lung Association, disagrees.

"The law requires that these standards be set based on science, what levels of air pollution harms health, so health and cost feasibility are not part of the decision,” he states. “Let your doctor tell you what makes you sick, not what it costs to cure you. "

Benjamin says the current proposal to strengthen the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ground level ozone within a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion does not go far enough.

"Costs are considered as part of the process and there is a balance that you always have to do,” he says. “But we can achieve these numbers for sure, and those of us who think that it needs to go down to 60 believe we can do that in a responsible manner without excessive costs."

According to the 2014 American Lung Association report, Hillsborough and Rockingham are the counties with the greatest number of days with dangerous ozone pollution levels.




Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH