By: Trisha DelloIacono, National Field Manager, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: September 1, 2020
About: Environmental Protection Agency Review of NAAQS for Ozone Docket ID No. EPA-HQOAR-2018-0279
To: Environmental Protection Agency
Good morning. My name is Trisha DelloIacono. I am the National Field Manager for Moms Clean Air Force, an organization of over 1 million moms and dads from across the country who are fighting to protect our children’s health and safety from air pollution and climate change. I am also the mother to 4 young children. Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments today.
I live with my family in southern New Jersey, and we spend a lot of time visiting family, traveling between New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island often. In the Northeast, many areas, including the Philadelphia-Camden metro area, New York City, and the Boston-Rhode Island area all receive an F for ozone pollution and are among the 25 most polluted cities listed in the American Lung Association’s State of the Air Report. Ozone pollution is harmful to our health and the developing lungs of infants and children. It is a powerful lung irritant and exacerbates asthma. Science tells us that the current EPA ozone standard is not protective enough and puts our health and safety at risk. As a mom and National Field Manager for an organization that fights to protect our kids' health from harmful air pollution, this is not acceptable, and I am urging the EPA to follow the science and strengthen the ozone pollution standard.
Coronavirus has drastically changed my family’s life and the lives of so many Americans, and this is especially so for my friends and our Moms Clean Air Force members from across the country whose children suffer from asthma or other upper respiratory diseases and live in areas with elevated levels of ozone pollution. Ozone or smog pollution is harmful to our health, and it is often described as sunburn on the lungs. It exacerbates asthma symptoms, respiratory infections, and causes coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. COVID-19 attacks the lungs, and we are learning that anyone with underlying health conditions, such as asthma, is more vulnerable to health impacts from the coronavirus. For anyone who struggles with unhealthy levels of ozone pollution in areas where they live, coronavirus is especially worrisome.
We also know that the coronavirus disproportionately impacts environmental justice communities and communities of color. Refusing to strengthen the national standard for ozone pollution is also a major setback for environmental justice. Not only are African Americans exposed to higher levels of ozone pollution, but they are more likely to become sicker as a result. By retaining the current, too-weak standards, EPA is prolonging these ingrained health disparities.
Moms Clean Air Force members are passionate about speaking up to protect their communities and families from air pollution. Even as many of us are struggling with home schooling, working from home, and ensuring that our families are staying afloat during this stressful time, our mothers are showing up and speaking out because we know that clean air is vital to ensure our health and safety during this frightening time. This is why we have more than 50 members from across the country scheduled to testify at this hearing, speaking out in opposition to the proposed rule. Moms Clean Air Force and our more than 1 million members are urging the EPA to protect the health of our families by strengthening the standards for ozone pollution.
The EPA should be taking bold action to ensure our health and safety are protected, especially during a global public health pandemic. However, Andrew Wheeler is doing the exact opposite and moving forward with sweeping actions that are unraveling lifesaving pollution protections. Instead of proposing to retain our current standards—standards that science has shown are inadequate to fully protect our children, our elders, and those with underlying health conditions—EPA should be moving forward with a proposal that is protecting American families and looking at ways to lower pollution levels in every aspect of their capacities.
On behalf of our more than 1 million members of Moms Clean Air Force, I implore you to protect public health and strengthen our national ozone pollution standards. At a time when our families are grappling with a global pandemic that attacks our lungs, we need to know that this administration is taking bold action that protects our health and safety—not makes it worse.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify today.