Smog check

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced a new standard for smog that leaves some people breathing easier and some businesses gasping.

The current standard of allowable ground-level ozone is 84 parts per billion, and it was set in 1997. The EPA is reducing it to 75 ppb. This is less stringent than the 60-70 ppb the EPA’s science advisors recommended.

Despite pleas from industry lobbyists, who say the new standard will cut into the economy, the EPA said the current standard was not enough to protect against asthma, heart attacks and respiratory problems. (The EPA is also not allowed to consider costs when setting the standard). The agency says their research shows the tougher standard will prevent about 1,100 premature deaths, 890 nonfatal heart attacks and 5,600 hospital or emergency room visits a year.

EPA reports say there are 85 counties that don’t meet the current standard of 84 ppb, including parts of Southern and Central California, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and part of Massachusetts. The new standard will put 345 counties out of compliance. Washoe County is not among those listed as violating either standard.