Lung Association Reacts to EPA's Announcement of New Nitrogen Dioxide Standard, Praises New Roadside Monitors

ALBANY, NY (01/26/2010)(readMedia)-- The American Lung Association in New York called the U.S Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) revised standard for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) a step forward in the fight for cleaner, healthier air. Nevertheless, the Association expressed disappointment that a more protective standard was not adopted. The Association reserved its highest praise for the new network of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) roadside monitors the agency announced it would place in several urban areas, including six urban areas in New York state. These roadside monitors will measure levels of the harmful NO2 pollutant along the most heavily trafficked roadways.

"What's significant is that EPA will be monitoring NO2 concentrations in some areas where no monitoring existed before," said Scott T. Santarella, President and CEO of the American Lung Association in New York. "These monitors will give us insight into dangerous short-term peaks in NO2 so that we can take action to best protect public health. Nitrogen dioxide is a serious irritant to the lungs that can trigger asthma episodes and result in hospitalizations. We need to do everything we can to minimize concentrations so that we can reduce related health effects."

Santarella noted that maps released by the EPA show that the following regions will be required to add one roadside NO2 monitor: Albany-Schenectady Troy, Buffalo-Niagara, Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, Rochester and Syracuse. Two roadside monitors will be required in the New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island region. Additionally, community-wide monitors will be required in the Rochester, New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, and Buffalo-Niagara regions. Presently, NO2 monitoring occurs only in the New York-New Jersey-Long Island and Buffalo-Niagara regions.

EPA will require that the air quality monitors be placed alongside high trafficked roadways in these areas by January, 2013. This additional monitoring will help EPA direct and prioritize cleanup efforts.

"EPA's announcement helps lay the groundwork for better air quality which will lead to better health for New Yorkers, especially those who suffer from asthma and other lung diseases," said Scott T. Santarella, President and CEO of the American Lung Association in New York. "While we would have liked the EPA to have adopted a more protective one-hour standard for NO2, this revision coupled with the additional monitoring is clearly an improvement."

Santarella said that the Lung Association would continue to advocate for National Air Quality Standards that offer New Yorkers the greatest protection from harmful air pollutants that make it harder to breathe and prevent individuals from living their lives to the fullest. He said the Lung Association in New York is also advocating for state and local laws that promote the use of cleaner home heating oil in New York City and statewide as a way to immediately reduce the level of NO2 in the air.