The American Public Health Association thanks the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for releasing its rule to strengthen national air quality standards for ozone pollution. EPA’s proposal would lower the standard for ground-level ozone, or smog, to 70 parts per billion. This reduction in the allowable amount of ozone in the air will provide significant benefits for public health — including for people with asthma, children and the elderly.

While APHA advocated for stronger protections, it is pleased that the administration tightened the current standard of 75 ppb, which is woefully inadequate to protect public health.

“We believe a standard of 60 ppb is the most protective of public health, based on the latest science,” said APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD. “However this is a significant step in the right direction. With stronger protections in place we will see fewer adverse health outcomes, including premature deaths, asthma attacks and heart disease and stroke.”

Ozone is the most common form of air pollution, which can result in numerous problems including respiratory symptoms, asthma attacks, decreased lung function and swelling of the airways.

“At APHA we support efforts that provide conditions for all Americans to live healthier lives,” Benjamin said. “Ensuring safe, breathable air is a critical component. We look forward to continuing our work with Congress and the administration to improve air quality and build a healthier America.”