Smog Rules Could Have Saved Thousands of Lives Annually

By declining to implement tougher regulations on smog last fall, President Obama rejected measures that could have saved several thousand lives a year and prevented millions of cases of asthma attacks and other acute respiratory problems, according to a new study. Reporting in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, scientists from Johns Hopkins University said that the tougher smog rules would have prevented 2,400 to 4,100 additional deaths annually from cardiac and respiratory problems. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson was about to announce a new standard last fall that would have required a reduction in ozone concentrations from 75 to 70 parts per billion, but Obama rejected the change, saying it would have cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars for air pollution cleanup at a time of economic recession. Johns Hopkins scientists said the tougher standards for ozone, the main lung-irritating ingredient in smog, “would result in dramatic public health benefits,” particularly in large cities such as Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago.