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Efforts continue to quell the backlash over President Donald Trump’s changing statements on the Russia summit. Also on the Thursday rundown: protestors are out for Mike Pence’s visit to Missouri; and nobody wants to go, but one option is green burials.

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Missourians Can Weigh In on Smog Regulations

PHOTO: Smokestacks from coal-fired power plants are among the major contributors of ground-level ozone, more commonly known as smog. Missourians can weigh in until mid-March on how much smog should be allowed in the air. Photo credit: click/morguefile.
PHOTO: Smokestacks from coal-fired power plants are among the major contributors of ground-level ozone, more commonly known as smog. Missourians can weigh in until mid-March on how much smog should be allowed in the air. Photo credit: click/morguefile.
February 2, 2015

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Ground-level ozone, or smog, is the single most widespread air pollutant in the U.S. and is linked to severe respiratory issues.

So, health experts are urging the government to crack down on it.

Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, says even at levels below the current ozone standard of 75 parts per billion, this byproduct of tailpipes and smokestacks poses serious threats – especially for children, the elderly and anyone with breathing problems.

"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 points out. “It's a significant problem and we can address it by reducing the amount of ozone that's produced."

In November, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled its proposal to tighten the standard from 75 parts per billion to as low as 60 parts per billion.

A series of hearings held in different U.S. cities wraps up this week with testimony in California. Written comments will be accepted through March 17.

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, says the decision should come down to the evidence available.

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

Dr. Dona Upson, a pulmonary physician who testified at a hearing last week, says the scientific evidence and public health benefits of a strong rule speak for themselves.

"The EPA's analysis has shown that setting a standard at 60 parts per billion would prevent up to 7,900 premature deaths, 1.8 million asthma attacks in children, and 1.9 million missed school days each year," she points out.

The regulations haven't been updated since 2008. The agency plans to issue a final rule this fall.


Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO