The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Is EPA Protecting Human Health?

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted October 20, 2010

Whenever the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issues new regulations, it usually includes information about the impact on human health.

For example, the agency's new proposed ozone standard is supposed "to provide increased protection for children and other 'at risk' populations against an array of O3-related adverse health effects that range from decreased lung function and increased respiratory symptoms to serious indicators of respiratory morbidity including emergency department visits and hospital admissions for respiratory causes, and possibly cardiovascular-related morbidity as well as total nonaccidental and cardiopulmonary mortality."

But will the new ozone standard really do that? Not necessarily, according to a book called Air Quality in America: A Dose of Reality on Air Pollution Levels, Trends, and Health Risks. Authors Joel Schwartz and Steven Hayward of the American Enterprise Institute say the current level of ozone isn't a significant health risk:

  • Large increases in asthma prevalence have coincided with large declines in air pollution indicating that "asthma incidence and air pollution are unrelated."
  • EPA's proposal to lower the ozone standard is based on a flawed study of young, healthy adults who exercised for several hours in chambers. So-called 'at risk' populations were not studied.
  • EPA tends to cherry-pick studies that back up their assertions on the number of emergency room visits that could be eliminated by reducing ground-level ozone. Schwartz and Hayward say the projections are "based on a selective reading of the health effects literature that ignores contrary evidence."

The EPA ozone proposal also ignores the findings of a Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI study showing that reducing the ozone standard to 60 parts-per-billion could destroy 7.3 million U.S. jobs and reduce the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $687 billion in 2020.

In a recent blog post, Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and www.openmarket.org says "adopting costly new air quality standards may actually impede improvements in public health...Forcing the private sector to spend trillions of dollars to achieve miniscule or non-existent health benefits hinders rather than advances public welfare."

Since the EPA's primary mission is to protect human health, it should reconsider its wrong-headed proposed ozone standard.

H/T to Marlo Lewis!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.