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AAP Statement on New EPA Ozone Standards Proposal

11/26/2014 By: James M. Perrin, MD, FAAP, president, American Academy of Pediatrics

"The American Academy of Pediatrics applauds the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for taking a long overdue step to propose stronger ozone standards, which will help protect our nation's children from dangerous ozone pollution. The previous standard of 75 parts per billion was too high, often contributing to serious health consequences that can extend throughout the lifespan.

"The Academy welcomes the new proposed standard, which is between 65 and 70 parts per billion, but urges EPA to go further. Scientific evidence strongly supports a level of 60 parts per billion, and pediatricians will focus on ensuring that the final ozone standard provides the most possible protection to especially vulnerable citizens like children and those who suffer from asthma. 

"Ozone pollution in the air disproportionately impacts children, who are not just little adults and whose unique health and developmental needs make them more susceptible to pollutants. High levels of ozone in the air can lead to decreased lung function, coughing, burning and shortness of breath, as well as inflammation and swelling of the airways. For children with asthma, the health consequences of ozone pollution are even more pronounced, often requiring trips to the emergency room or intensive care unit for treatment. On high ozone days, many of these children are forced to stay home or to see their pediatrician, missing school or other recreational activities. Today's new ozone standard is a welcome and needed step forward to protect children's health by ensuring the air they breathe is safe and clean.

"As pediatricians, we can prescribe inhalers and treat asthma attacks, but unfortunately we cannot reduce the risk that ozone pollution poses to our young patients. The EPA's proposed new lower standard is a step in the right direction to help limit the amount of ozone our children are exposed to on a daily basis, whether during their walk to the bus stop or their outdoor sports activity. Every child deserves the opportunity to play outside without the risk of breathing in harmful air, and pediatricians will continue advocating for clean air until we achieve that goal."

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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 62,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds.