ALA Experts to Testify, Urge Stronger NO2 Standards

The American Lung Association will tell the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at a public hearing today to adopt even stronger, health-based national air quality standards for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) than what the agency proposed.

Lung Association leadership and healthy air advocates will call for tighter standards at the EPA Potomac Yard Conference Center hearing in Arlington, Va. Mary Partridge, American Lung Association National Board chair, is scheduled to speak at 10:15 a.m.

"Nitrogen dioxide is a widespread, dangerous pollutant that threatens the health of millions of people who live and work along our major highways," said Partridge. "EPA is taking a strong step in the right direction to tighten the limit, but we think the evidence shows they need to provide even more protection than what they are proposing."

The Lung Association says it strongly supports the establishment of a stringent one-hour daily maximum standard of 50 parts per billion (ppb) or below to best protect the health of children with asthma and other vulnerable groups. The Lung Association's recommendation would provide much greater protection than the one-hour standard EPA has proposed, which would be set between 80 ppb and 100 ppb.

The Lung Association also supports strengthening of the annual average standards to match the 30 ppb limit set in California to protect against the long-term harm NO2 may have on lung health. Under the Clean Air Act, standards must be based on what is necessary to protect public health.

"Breathing NO2 can irritate the lungs, trigger asthma attacks and lower the body's natural resistance to respiratory infections," said Norman H. Edelman, M.D., American Lung Association chief medical officer. "People with asthma and other lung diseases, children and older adults are at highest risk for these health complications, as are people who live or work near a major highway."

Traffic pollution and power plants are two of the biggest sources of NO2 pollution in the United States. People living in and around Los Angeles, Phoenix, in the Northeast corridor and in the Midwest experience the highest concentrations of this pollution.

Gwendolyn Young, Nationwide Assembly speaker of the American Lung Association, will testify at EPA's second public hearing in Los Angeles.

EPA must set its final rule for NO2 air quality by Jan. 22, 2010.

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