Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, July 6, 2017

Contact:  Jonathan Evans, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 844-7118, 

New Study: Weak U.S. Standards for Ground-level Ozone, Particulate Matter Contribute Directly to Thousands of Premature Deaths

New England Journal of Medicine Study Released Same Month Trump EPA Delayed Plans for Meeting More Protective Ground-level Ozone Standards

BOSTON— A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has found that weak U.S. standards for ground-level ozone and particulate matter contribute directly to thousands of premature deaths.

The study, published June 29, estimates that 1,900 lives could be saved every year if ground-level ozone levels were lowered by just 1 part per billion nationwide.

The study comes the same month Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt announced he was delaying compliance with the more protective 2015 ground-level ozone standard of 70 parts per billion. The 2008 standard, now in place, is 75 parts per billion, which Pruitt said he is considering returning to.

The 13-year study by Harvard University scientists of all 61 million Americans on Medicare, age 65 and older, also found that a reduction of just 1 microgram per cubic meter in the level of airborne particulate matter nationwide would save about 12,000 lives annually.

“This study leaves no doubt that the Trump EPA's reckless policies will lead directly to thousands of premature deaths and illnesses,” said Jonathan Evans, legal director of the Center for Biological Diversity's environmental health program.

Before Pruitt's decision to delay the new ozone standards, states were required to submit information to the EPA this year on whether they were meeting the new 70 parts per billion standards. Under the Clean Air Act, after providing this information, states must develop plans to reduce pollution and meet the new standards.

As attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt sued to block the updated 2015 ozone standards.

An EPA study found that Clean Air Act programs to reduce ozone pollution prevented more than 4,300 deaths and 3.2 million lost school days in 2010 alone. The Clean Air Act has also helped to keep the U.S. economy healthy by creating jobs, with more than 1.7 million Americans employed in the environmental technology industry helping to keep our air clean.

“It's never been clearer that the anti-science policies of the Trump-Pruitt team are bad for the health of Americans,” said Evans. “Increasing dangerous air pollution is just bad policy, even for American industries.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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