Delaying Ozone Pollution Standards Endangers Public Health


September 7, 2023

Andrew Whelan, CleanAIRE NC, (919) 408-7031, [email protected]

Delaying Ozone Pollution Standards Needlessly Endangers Public Health

Charlotte, N.C. – CleanAIRE NC is disappointed in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to delay stronger air quality standards for ground-level ozone (O3), also known as smog.

The EPA initially planned to update its standards for the first time in eight years to reflect current evidence on the dangers of ozone pollution, following the advice of an independent scientific panel. This politically-motivated delay until after the 2024 election will affect millions of people and needlessly endanger North Carolina’s communities.

Ground-level ozone is a dangerous pollutant that can severely damage our lungs and trigger asthma attacks, increase hospitalizations, and even result in premature death. Nine of the ten leading causes of death in North Carolina are caused or exacerbated by ozone exposure, including stroke, COVID-19, heart disease, and respiratory illnesses.

This health burden is not shared equally. Children, pregnant persons, seniors, people with preexisting health conditions, and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) communities are at increased risk of experiencing poor health outcomes from ozone exposure. Smog also creates significant economic costs by straining healthcare spending and resulting in lost school and work days. 

Tightening public health protections on ozone is long overdue. The EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee and the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council have found robust scientific evidence that the current standard fails to adequately protect public health. CleanAIRE NC supports science-driven policy and calls for swift actions to strengthen ozone standards to promote healthier air and save lives. 


CleanAIRE NC is a statewide nonprofit organization advocating for the health of all North Carolinians by pursuing equitable and collaborative solutions that address climate change and air pollution.

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