New Ozone Standard

A new air quality standard being proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency will limit ozone pollution. The proposed rule is being welcomed by environment groups, medical communities and lawmakers. Pat Hernandez has more.

The proposed rule will be 70-parts of ozone per one billion parts of air over an 8-hour period. It is 50-percent tougher than the measure favored by the Bush Administration. That rule was challenged in court because it didn't do enough to protect people. Matthew Tejada is executive director of GHASP, the Galveston-Houston Association for Smog Prevention.

"We've been wanting for so long for the EPA to start following the law and to start following the science when they set policy. And if the EPA actually comes down to this recommended level for the ozone standard, they would be returning our primary environmental agency in this country back to following science to set good policy, and that's really what we need to do. When we're talking about the ozone standard or any of our air pollution standards in this country, the primary and really, the only thing that we need to consider is how that pollution affects human health."

Dr. Stuart Abramson is an asthma specialist at Baylor College of Medicine. He says the new edict will go a long way in protecting people who have trouble breathing.

"Ozone is clearly the pollutant to which we have the broadest exposure among the population. It has many health effects. The minor ones being just irritation to the eyes and nose, but there are many vulnerable populations that have much more serious problems: those with asthma (and) those with chronic lung disease. So ozone is clearly an important pollutant that we need to address."

Houston and Galveston is one of three metropolitan areas of Texas that is currently in "non attainment" of the present, less protective EPA ozone standard. When the new revision becomes the standard, the number of Texas regions will double.

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...