Too Breathless To Speak Out Against Air Pollution

Others stand up at EPA ozone hearing on behalf of victims

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Imagine loving to garden but being unable to do so because the air outside your home is thick with ozone. Or a travel down the freeway literally taking your breath away because the pollution is just that unbearable.

Enter the life of Mary Theriault. The northern Virginia resident battles chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and was supposed to testify at an EPA hearing today in Arlington on stronger ozone standards. But Mary was hospitalized due to a COPD flair-up.

Earthjustice’s David Baron was among the first to testify, commending EPA for doing the right thing in proposing to strengthen clean air standards.

EPA isn’t just right to strengthen standards, it’s required to do so, he said during his testimony. EPA under the law, does not have the option of adopting a standard that allows the exposure of people to unsafe levels of ozone, he continued.

The Bush-era federal air standard (NAAQS) limited exposure of ozone to no more than 75 parts per billion (ppb) of ozone averaged over 8 hours. EPA has proposed to tighten that limit to a range of 60-70 ppb, and to adopt a separate standard to protect forests from ozone damage.

Clean air advocates testified side-by-side with opponents of a stronger ozone standard, with representatives of the American Chemistry Council and the petroleum industry testifying that a stronger ozone standard would be costly and unnecessary.

 I wonder if they’d say the same thing to Mary Theriault or the millions of others suffering from COPD.

 An additional hearing is taking place in Houston today (Feb. 2) at the Hilton Houston Hobby Airport, Moody Ballroom, 8181 Airport Boulevard, Houston, Texas until 7:30 p.m. (CST). A hearing also is scheduled to take place on Thursday (Feb. 4) in Sacramento at Four Points Sheraton Sacramento International Airport, Natomas Ballroom, 4900 Duckhorn Drive, Sacramento, California from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (PST).

EPA also is accepting written comments on the proposed standard until March 22. Email comments to: and be sure to put "Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2005 -0172" in the subject line.

 Or mail comments to:
Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2005 – 0172
Environmental Protection Agency
Mail code 6102T
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20460

Raviya was a press secretary at Earthjustice in the Washington, D.C. office from 2008 to 2014, working on issues including federal rulemakings, energy efficiency laws and coal ash pollution.