Thousands of people are speaking up right now about smog pollution. Who are we, and why do we care?
The EPA is currently taking public comment on its proposal to strengthen national standards for ground level ozone, or smog. To find out if stronger standards will help you breathe easy, check our handy list of 8 Types of People Who Need Better Smog Protection. Are you one of us?
- Truth-seekers. The current ground level ozone standards are too weak. They tell us the air is safe to breathe, even when it’s not. In other words, they are lying. Many parents rely on the Air Quality Index, which is linked to the smog standards, to determine whether to let our kids play outside. What’s at stake? Whether or not kids with asthma will have an attack triggered by local air pollution. Parents need to know if it’s safe to go out. We deserve to know the truth about whether the air is safe to breathe.
- Science-lovers. EPA’s independent panel of scientists reviewed the vast body of scientific evidence linking smog exposure to health problems and concluded: the standards should be lowered to 60-70 parts per billion (ppb), from the current allowable level of 75 ppb. The science is clear. Breathing smog at 75 ppb is unhealthy. EPA’s proposed standard of 65-70 ppb is better than what we have now, but a standard of 60 ppb would better protect the most vulnerable populations from adverse health effects of smog exposure. So we science-lovers say to EPA: Follow the science. Give us stronger standards.
- Asthma-sufferers. Smog is a well-established trigger of asthma attacks, the hallmark symptom of a disease suffered by close to 1 in 10 American children. Stronger smog standards would prevent hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks, according to EPA. Let’s get serious about doing what we can to ease the symptoms of this epidemic.
- Working parents. Smog pollution causes hundreds of thousands of missed school days each year due to asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses. Strong smog standards can keep kids in school, and parents at work. For so many working parents, not to mention little learners, this is a no brainer. Stave off sick days.
- Pregnant mamas. There is suggestive, though not definitive, evidence that smog exposure over weeks and months can negatively impact the developing fetus. In particular, it appears that smog exposure in utero is associated with low birth weight babies, and may alter lung development. In other words, smog is bad for babies. That means that if you’re a pregnant mama, smog is bad for you, too.
- Grandparents. Older adults are more vulnerable to the health impacts of breathing smog. Janice Nolen, Assistant Vice President for National Policy at the American Lung Association, recently explained to me why. Older adults may spend more time outside than younger adults, Nolen said, leading to increased exposure to air pollution. They also have a higher prevalence of underlying diseases such as COPD and heart disease that may make it harder to counter pollution damage. And because of the aging process, their bodies are less able in general to fend off inflammation and other damage from breathing air pollution. Indeed, evidence suggests that smog exposure increases death. Let’s honor our parents and grandparents by cleaning up deadly smog.
- Climate activists. In addition to causing a wide range of health problems, ground level ozone is a heat-trapping gas. It’s responsible for about 10% of the global warming that we are experiencing today. And its effects on forests may worsen climate change, by reducing the ability of trees to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. That means that reducing smog pollution helps our health and helps fight climate change at the same time.
- Pet owners. Just like people, pets can suffer when they have to breathe polluted air. Want to keep your pets purring and panting happily? Smog can cause respiratory problems in our furry companions. Cleaning up the air helps them as much as it helps us.
If you or someone you love is a truth-seeker, science-lover, asthma-sufferer, working parent, pregnant mama, grandparent, climate activist, pet owner — or if you are a breather — then join us to speak up for stronger smog standards.