Anti smog rules to be tightened
Tighter rules aimed at cracking down on smog have been put out for consultation by the American environmental watchdog.
Smog, also known as ground-level ozone, is linked to a number of serious health problems from asthma to an increased risk of premature death in people with heart or lung disease.
The agency is proposing to set the 'primary' standard, which protects public health, at a level between 0.060 and 0.070 parts per million (ppm) measured over eight hours.
In its proposals the EPA aims 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 from ozone exposure, which can reduce tree growth, damage leaves and increases the chance of disease.
EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, said: "We're stepping up to protect Americans from one of the most persistent and widespread pollutants we face.
"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, using the best science to strengthen these standards is a long overdue action that will help millions of Americans breathe easier and live healthier."
In September last year administrator Jackson announced that EPA would reconsider the existing ozone standards, set at 0.075 ppm in March 2008.
Depending on the level of the final standard, the proposal could have health benefits between of $13billion and $100billion.
The EPA will hold a public consultation for 60 days after the changes are published in the Federal Register, and will hold public meeting in the US.
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