Back in 2007, a panel of scientists decided that to protect public health the national ambient air quality standard for ground-level ozone standard should be between 60 and 70 parts per billion. Last week, their recommendation was finally acted upon. But does the science still say that 70 ppb is enough?
Last year, the EPA signaled that it will announce a stricter ground-level ozone standard this fall. South Louisiana and other warm, sunny places tend to be high in "bad" ozone. After a struggle, Baton Rouge and neighboring parishes with refineries and petrochemical plants have managed to comply with EPA's current ozone standard.
Like last year and the year before, I felt a pang when I saw the top five regions with the most air pollution. All five of them are in my home state of California, relatively low-income, and heavily Latino. Too often, those most vulnerable to the health and economic impacts of air pollution are those who breathe the dirtiest air.