Office of Mayor William Peduto
Mayor Peduto Signals Support for Stronger Clean Air Protections from White House

PITTSBURGH, PA (September 21, 2015) Today, Mayor William Peduto joined 70 mayors from around the country in signing a letter signaling support for President Obama setting the strongest possible clean air protections against smog pollution, also known as ground-level ozone.

The letter was signed by a diverse coalition of local leaders from across the nation, many from states with a history of high smog pollution levels such as Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Pennsylvania. The letter supports efforts by President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stay true to the science and issue protections consistent with the recommendations from leading public health organizations like the American Lung Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Heart Association.

“Pittsburgh has long been a leader in efforts to fight for clean air and water, and I am honored to stand with fellow mayors nationwide in support of President Obama’s efforts to boost these much-needed environmental protections,” Mayor Peduto said. “Leaders from around the world, including Pope Francis, increasingly know that we must come together to make serious changes to our stewardship of our planet’s climate, on behalf of the generations who will follow us. Clean air protections are an important element of that.”

According to the American Lung Association, inhaling smog pollution is like getting a sunburn on your lungs and often results in immediate breathing trouble. Long term exposure to smog pollution is linked to chronic respiratory diseases like asthma, reproductive and developmental harm, and even premature death. Children, seniors, and people with asthma are especially vulnerable to smog’s health impacts.

Smog pollution also disproportionately affects low income communities and communities of color, who are more likely to live close to sources of pollution and roadways, have lower access to medical information and health insurance, and die from asthma related complications.

The existing, outdated standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb) put in place by the George W. Bush Administration has been widely panned by the medical community as grossly insufficient to protect public health. In a letter released in March 2015, 13 medical associations wrote EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy asking her to strengthen these protections to safeguard vulnerable populations from its negative health impacts. The Obama Administration is under court order to issue an update to these air quality standards by October 1, 2015. 

A copy of the full letter is here.

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