Proposed new air quality standards for reducing smog will lead to reduced environmental health risks associated with air pollution produced from air pollutants. In order to reduce air pollution, the United States has enacted a number of Clean Air Acts to improve air quality. Stricter EPA smog rules will significantly improve air quality.
What is Smog?
Smog, which is a mixture of fog and smoke, consists of numerous air pollutants, such as nitrogen oxide and organic compounds that combine with sunlight to form ozone. Ozone is beneficial when it is in the stratosphere and protects the environment from the sun’s harmful rays; however, when ozone is near ground level, it can cause health problems in humans and damage vegetation.
Some sources of air pollution are:
- Automobile exhaust
- Power plants
- Chemical solvents
Environmental Health Risks of Smog
Reduced environmental health risks are one benefit of the proposed new air quality standards. Many people are at risk of health problems caused by poor air quality. Anyone who spends time outdoors, especially in areas with heavy smog can be susceptible to health risks of smog. Individuals, who are active outdoors, may be more affected, due to breathing deeply and breathing in pollutants.
The EPA fact sheet, “Proposal to Revise the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone” stated, “Children are at increased risk from exposure to ozone because their lungs are still developing and they are more likely to be active outdoors, which increases their exposure.” Smog can intensify health problems, such as asthma, emphysema and other respiratory problems.
Persons most affected by smog are:
- Adults who are active outdoors
- People with health issues
- People with sensitivity to air pollutants or ozone
Proposed New Air Quality Standards
The New York Times article “E.P.A. Seeks Stricter Rules to Curb Smog”
by John Broder stated, “The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed to strengthen the national ambient air quality standards for ground-level ozone. Ground-level ozone is a primary component of smog.”
Many rural areas may now be affected by the stricter EPA smog rules. The proposal recommends a reduction of smog-forming emissions from industry and automobiles to protect the public from air pollutants. The EPA is proposing a change from 0.075 ppm (parts per million) to 0.060-0.070 ppm measured over eight hours, with a final standard expected by 2017.
The Business Week article, “Stricter Smog Curbs Sought by U.S. to Cut Health Risk” by Jim Efstathiou Jr. states, “Under the Clean Air Act, the government must review the limits every five years to determine if they adequately protect public health and the environment.”
The proposed new air quality standards will restrict the amount of ozone released in the air. If the proposed new air quality standards are instituted, the benefits will be reduced environmental health risks to the public.