Environment
6:00 pm
Fri March 18, 2011

UNC Research Points To New Ozone Standard

Air Quality Forecasts

On warm days like today, pollution in the air can produce excess ozone near the ground. And air quality officials often issue ozone alerts - warning people with breathing problems to reduce activity or stay indoors.  But new research from UNC indicates the current acceptable ozone levels established by the Environmental Protection Agency might actually be too high. 

David Peden is an lung researcher from the School of Medicine who's been studying ozone exposure. He says even healthy people might have breathing problems on a day that meets the EPA standard.  Peden recommends a change that seems small, but he says it's significant:

"I'm not a health economist but it... it measures in hundreds of thousands of asthma exacerbations, hundreds of thousands of ER visits across the country and a number of hospitalizations. So it's really not an insignificant difference between .08 and .06."

The EPA administrator is considering changing the ozone standard. Peden says his new data will contribute to that decision.

North Carolina Division of Air Quality forecast webpage