Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Ozone Overload: Current Standards May Not Protect Health

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Ozone Overload: Current Standards May Not Protect Health

Article excerpt

Ozone is a common urban pollutant that has been linked to health effects such as reduced lung function, increases in respiratory symptoms, and development of asthma. Now a team of researchers reports that ozone may pose a danger to human health even at levels far below the limits set by current U.S. and international regulations [EHP 114:532-536; Bell et al.]. The team conducted a study of 98 U.S. urban communities between 1987 and 2000 to investigate whether there is a threshold below which ozone does not affect mortality, and report that they were unable to identify such a threshold.

More than 100 million Americans live in areas that exceed the EPA's National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone of 80 parts per billion (ppb) ozone averaged over a peak 8-hour time period. The EPA is currently reviewing scientific evidence to determine whether that NAAQS should be revised in order to meet the 1997 Clean Air Act's goal of protecting human health with an adequate margin of safety.

The researchers embarked on this project to better identify that margin. Data were gathered from the National Morbidity, Mortality, and Air Pollution Study, a project launched in 1996 to address questions about the degree to which particulate matter is responsible for changes in daily mortality rates. …

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