Texans Urge EPA to Set Strong Smog Pollution Safeguards

Doctors call for life-saving protections at federal EPA hearing in Arlington.

Today at a U.S. EPA hearing, scores of Texas residents, asthmatics, parents and doctors from across the region are speaking out in support of a new smog pollution protections at a public hearing in Arlington, one of three such events across the country. In October 2014, the EPA proposed a new plan for smog pollution and is seeking comment from the public through mid-March, as required by the Clean Air Act.

“I see the faces of pollution-related illnesses every day, and the effects can be devastating,” said Dr. Susan Pacheco, who specializes in Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. “All of us in Texas deserve clean, safe air to breathe.”

In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the childhood asthma rate is the highest in the state, twice as high as the Texas average and more than 8 percentage points higher than the national average, according to state data. Dr. Pacheco, a member of Moms Clean Air Force, will be joined at a 2 pm press conference at Arlington City Hall by Dr. John Kissel of St. Louis, and Dr. Robert Haley of Dallas to explain what strong smog safeguards by EPA mean for improved health across America.

Smog pollution is largely driven by dirty industries -- like cement kilns and fracking -- and the burning of fossil fuels -- such as coal-burning power plants and tailpipe emissions. Smog can trigger respiratory problems like asthma attacks, nervous system disorders and cardiovascular problems. Over time, exposure can lead to permanent lung damage and even premature death. Today, the public largely shoulders the expense of the smog pollution through medical bills, sick children, and missed work days.

“As the wife and mother of asthmatics, it’s empowering to see this concrete opportunity to breathe easier,” said Cherelle Blazer, Dallas organizer for the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign. “If the EPA is truly listening to me, to all of us, we will see strong, solid limits on smog pollution that will have a real impact on the daily life of those I love most, or hold most dear.”

By strengthening the current, weak standard to 60 parts-per-billion, the EPA can better protect our communities - especially sensitive populations like children, asthmatics and the elderly - from deadly air pollution. Nearly 26 million Americans are estimated to have asthma, with 7 million of them being children.

According to the EPA, a 60 ppb standard would prevent roughly 1.8 million asthma attacks, 1.9 million missed school days and 6,400 premature deaths.

To learn more about smog, please view this fact sheet and infographic. Smog and health-related b-roll available here.