The American Lung Association will tell the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at a public hearing today to adopt even stronger, health-based national air quality standards for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) than what the agency proposed. Lung Association leadership and healthy air advocates will call for tighter standards at the hearing that begins at 9:00 AM at the EPA Potomac Yard Conference Center located at 1 Potomac Yard, 2777 South Crystal Drive in Arlington, Va. Mary Partridge, American Lung Association National Board Chair, is scheduled to speak at 10:15 AM. The hearing will conclude at 9:00 PM.

"Nitrogen dioxide is a widespread, dangerous pollutant that threatens the health of millions of people who live and work along our major highways," said Mary Partridge, American Lung Association National Board Chair. "EPA is taking a strong step in the right direction to tighten the limit, but we think the evidence shows they need to provide even more protection than what they are proposing. We have scientists and volunteers here today to urge EPA to follow the science and adopt tighter standards to protect the health of all of our communities."

Changes to the national air quality standard for NO2 pollution will become the new official limit on this air pollutant that each county in the nation must meet. The new NO2 standard will trigger federally enforced clean up measures designed to protect people from the harm that breathing this pollutant can cause.

"Research tells us that pollution levels on or near major highways can be many times higher than levels in other places in America's cities and counties," said Janice Nolen, American Lung Association Assistant Vice President for Policy and Advocacy. "We strongly support EPA's proposal for a nationwide monitoring system to be set up near our nation's busiest highways as a way to identify areas that need more protection."

"Many low income neighborhoods and communities of color have major highways going right through them, forcing these residents to breathe dangerous exhaust fumes," said Ms. Partridge. "We're asking EPA to start monitoring these traffic exhaust pollutants like NO2. We need to make sure that we are cleaning up the air everyone breathes."

The Lung Association strongly supports the establishment of a stringent one-hour daily maximum standard of 50 parts per billion (ppb) or below to best protect the health of children with asthma and other vulnerable groups. The Lung Association's recommendation would provide much greater protection than the one-hour standard EPA has proposed, which would be set between 80 ppb and 100 ppb.

The Lung Association also supports strengthening of the annual average standards to match theĀ 30 ppb limit set in California to protect against the long-term harm NO2 may have on lung health. Under the Clean Air Act, standards must be based on what is necessary to protect public health.

"Breathing NO2 can irritate the lungs, trigger asthma attacks and lower the body's natural resistance to respiratory infections," said Norman H. Edelman, MD, American Lung Association Chief Medical Officer. "People with asthma and other lung diseases, children and older adults are at highest risk for these health complications, as are people who live or work near a major highway."

Traffic pollution and power plants are two of the biggest sources of NO2 pollution in the United States. People living in and around Los Angeles, Phoenix, in the Northeast corridor and in the Midwest experience the highest concentrations of this pollution.

"With more than 22.9 million people living with asthma in the United States, the American Lung Association is fighting so that every child or adult with asthma can have the freedom to play, exercise or work outdoors without the fear that air pollution will send them to the hospital," said Charles D. Connor, American Lung Association President and CEO. "It is critical that the NO2 pollution standard be tightened to better protect the health of the American public."

EPA will hold a second hearing on August 6, 2009 in Los Angeles where Gwendolyn Young, Nationwide Assembly Speaker of the American Lung Association will also testify along with other Lung Association volunteers and supporters. This hearing will commence at 9:00 AM at the Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown located at 711 South Hope Street, Los Angeles, Calif. 90017.

EPA must set its final rule for NO2 air quality by January 22, 2010. The Lung Association will continue to lobby for tighter NO2 pollution standards by participating fully in EPA led public hearings to advocate for air quality standards that best protect public health in all areas of the country.

American Lung Association

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