The United States Environmental Protection Agency announced last week the strictest health standards to date.
If the proposed standards were adopted the EPA estimates the cost to implement the new standards in a range from $19 billion to $90 billion. The EPA also speculates the costs for implementation would likely be shouldered by the individual owners of construction equipment, trucks, power plants and industrial facilities.
The agency is proposing to set the primary standard, which is designed to protect public health, at a level between 0.060 and 0.070 parts per million (ppm) measured over eight hours. The current standard is 0.075 ppm.
“Smog in the air we breathe poses a very serious health threat, especially to children and individuals suffering from asthma and lung disease. It dirties our air, clouds our cities, and drives up our health care costs across the country” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.
EPA is also proposing to set a separate “secondary” standard to protect the environment, especially plants and trees. This seasonal standard is designed to protect plants and trees from damage occurring from repeated ozone exposure, which can reduce tree growth, damage leaves, and increase susceptibility to disease.
After reviewing public comments from 2008 and over 1700 scientific studies prior to the announcement. The EPA also reviewed findings of the independent Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee which recommended standards in the ranges proposed last week. Depending on the level of the final standard, the EPA reports that the proposal would yield health benefits between $13 billion and $100 billion.