EPA’S New Ozone Rule: Part 13

The EPA did an assessment estimating how many children in general and asthmatic children in particular, living in 12 metropolitan areas, engaged in moderate and greater exertion in areas that reached a particular maximum level of ozone, would actually be exposed to specific levels of ozone or higher (called benchmarks). The results of the assessment are summarized in the document National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone, Final Preamble, 2011 (pp. 51 – 52) as Table 1, which appears below. EPA’s table footnotes appear at the end of this post.

The caption in bold is taken directly from the document (p. 51). The table follows. EPA’s footnotes appear after the end of this post:

Table 1. Number and Percent of All and Asthmatic School Age Children in 12 Urban Areas Estimated to Experience 8-Hour Ozone Exposures At and Above 0.060 and 0.070 ppm While at Moderate or Greater Exertion, One or More Times Per Season Associated with Just Meeting Alternative 8-Hour Standards Based on Adjusting 2002 and 2004 Air Quality Data1,2

Benchmark Levels of Exposures of Concern(ppm) 8-Hour Air Quality Standards3 (ppm) All Children, ages 5-18
Aggregate for 12 urban areas
Number of Children Exposed (% of all children)
[Range across 12 cities, % of all children]
Asthmatic Children, ages 5-18 Aggregate for 12 urban areas Number of Children Exposed (% of group)[Range across 12 cities, % of group ]

2002 2004 2002 2004
0.074 770,000 (4%)
[0 – 13%]
20,000 (0%)
[0 – 1%]
120,000 (5%)
[0 – 14% ]
0 (0%)
[0 – 1%]
0.070 0.070 270,000 (1%)
[0 – 5%]
0 (0%)
[0%]
50,000 (2%)
[0 – 6%]
0 (0%)
[0 – 1%]
0.064 30,000 (0.2%)
[0 – 1%]
0 (0%)
[0%]
10,000 (0.2%)
[0 – 1%]
0 (0%)
[0%]
0.074 4,550,000 (25%)
[1 – 48%]
350,000 (2%)
[0 – 9%]
700,000 (27%)
[1 -51%]
50,000 (2%)
[0 – 9%]
0.060 0.070 3,000,000 (16%)
[1 – 36%]
110,000 (1%)
[0 – 4%]
460,000 (18%)
[0 – 41%]
10,000 (1%)
[0 – 3%]
0.064 950,000 (5%)
[0 – 17%]
10,000 (0%)
[0 – 1%]
150,000 (6%)
[0 – 16%]
0 (0%)
[0 – 1%

An example on how to read the chart: Look at the benchmark level of 0.070 ppm on the leftmost column of the chart, then at the 8-hour quality standard of 0.074 ppm in the next column. In 2002, 4% of all children ages 5 – 18 in areas whose maximum ozone reached 0.074 ppm were actually exposed to levels of 0.070 ppm or greater (the rest might have been indoors when the ozone level was so high and so escaped exposure). In 2004, less than 1% were so exposed. In 2002, 5% of asthmatic children were so exposed, but in 2004, less than 1% were so exposed. Within brackets are the ranges of minimum and maximum percents encountered in the survey. For example, regarding areas that reached a maximum level of 0.074 ppm in 2002, the lowest percentage encountered of all children exposed to ozone levels of 0.070 ppm or higher was less than 1%. The highest percentage encountered was 13%. The percentage of all children in the 12 cities was 4%.

Jackson explains how the exposure assessment results influenced her judgement (p.179):

In considering the exposure assessment results, the Administrator focused on the extent to which alternative standard levels within the proposed range of 0.060 to 0.070 ppm would likely limit exposures at and above the health benchmark levels of 0.070 and 0.060 ppm for all [school age children] and asthmatic school age children in the 12 urban areas included in the assessment… In particular, the Administrator notes that the 0.070 ppm benchmark level reflects the information that asthmatics likely have larger and more serious effects than healthy people at any given exposure level, such that studies done with healthy subjects may underestimate effects for susceptible populations. Thus, in considering the strong body of evidence from the large number of controlled human exposure studies showing O3-related respiratory effects in healthy people at exposure levels of 0.080 ppm and above, the Administrator concludes it is appropriate to give substantial weight to estimates of exposures at and above the 0.070 ppm benchmark level. With regard to the 0.060 ppm benchmark level, the Administrator notes that this benchmark reflects additional consideration of the evidence from the Adams studies at the 0.060 ppm exposure level. In considering the important but limited nature of this evidence, the Administrator concludes it is appropriate to give some weight to estimates of exposures at and above the 0.060 ppm benchmark level, while recognizing that the public health significance of such exposures is appreciably more uncertain than for the 0.070 ppm benchmark level.

Adopting a standard of 0.070 ppm ozone would be advantageous as it would limit exposure to the 0.070 ppm benchmark (p. 179).

Considering the exposure information shown in Table 1 above in light of these considerations, the Administrator observes that a standard set at 0.070 ppm would likely very substantially limit children’s exposures at and above the 0.070 ppm benchmark, considering both the year-to-year variability and the city-to-city variability in the exposure estimates across the 12 cities included in the assessment. In particular, for the more recent year in the assessment, which had generally better air quality, such exposures were essentially eliminated, whereas in the earlier year with generally poorer air quality, exposures at and above the benchmark level were limited to approximately 2% of asthmatic children in the aggregate across the 12 cities, ranging from 0% up to 6% in the city with the least degree of protection. In weighing this information and in judging the public health implications of these exposure estimates, the Administrator recognizes that only a subset of this susceptible population with exposures at and above the benchmark level would likely be at risk of experiencing O3-related health effects.

Even better, A standard of 0.070 ppm would be effective at limiting exposure down to the 0.060 ppm benchmark (p. 180):

With regard to the 0.060 ppm benchmark level, a standard set at 0.070 ppm would likely also limit exposures at and above this benchmark level, but to a lesser degree. For example, as shown above in Table 1, for the more recent year, exposures at and above the 0.060 ppm benchmark level were limited to approximately 1% of asthmatic children in the aggregate, whereas for the earlier year approximately 18% of asthmatic children were estimated to experience exposures at and above this benchmark level. In weighing this information and judging the public health implications of these exposure estimates, the Administrator recognizes that relative to the 0.070 ppm benchmark, an even smaller, but unquantifiable subset of this susceptible population with exposure at and above the 0.060 ppm benchmark would likely be at risk of experiencing O3-related health effects, and that there is greater uncertainty as to the occurrence of such effects based on the limited evidence available from the Adams studies. The Administrator also notes that these estimates are substantially below the exposures that would likely be allowed by the 0.075 ppm standard (which would be somewhat higher than the estimates in Table 1 for a 0.074 ppm standard).

But then again, adopting the lower 0.064 ppm standard would be even better, according to the assessment (p. 181):

In also considering exposure estimates for the lowest alternative standard level considered in the exposure assessment, 0.064 ppm, the Administrator notes that the estimates of exposures at and above both health benchmark levels are even lower than for a 0.070 ppm standard. For example, for all years in the assessment, exposures of asthmatic children at and above the 0.070 ppm benchmark were essentially eliminated for a 0.064 ppm standard; even in the year with generally poorer air quality and in the city with the least degree of protection, exposures at and above the benchmark level were very substantially limited to approximately 1% of asthmatic children. Further, exposures of asthmatic children at and above the 0.060 ppm benchmark were also essentially eliminated in the more recent year for a 0.064 ppm standard, while in the year with generally poorer air quality such exposures were appreciably limited to approximately 6% of asthmatic children.

Well, in that case, why not go for the 0.064 ppm standard? (p. 181)

In considering these results, the Administrator notes that in its most recent advice, CASAC considered the public health significance of reductions in exposures above these benchmark levels of concern. In so doing, CASAC observed that while the predicted number of exposures of concern increases at every standard level as the benchmark level of concern is reduced, the public health impact of this increase becomes less certain, and that the public health significance of such exposures is difficult to gauge (Samet, 2011, p. 13). The Administrator also notes that CASAC judged that in terms of exposures above the 0.060 ppm benchmark level of concern, a further reduction in the standard from 0.070 ppm is estimated to have a small public health impact, although, in the absence of a threshold at the benchmark level of concern, this analysis is likely to be an underestimate of the true public health impact.

Jackson comes to her final conclusion (p. 181):

Taken together, in weighing this exposure information and judging the public health implications of the exposure estimates for the alternative standard levels, the Administrator finds that a standard of 0.070 ppm appropriately limits exposures of concern relative to the 0.070 and 0.060 ppm benchmark levels for the susceptible population of asthmatic children, as well as for the broader population of all children. Particularly in light of the relatively more uncertain public health implications of exposure at and above the 0.060 ppm benchmark, the Administrator concludes the exposure assessment provides support for a standard no higher than 0.070 ppm, but does not warrant selecting a standard set below that level.


Table Footnotes as Published by the EPA:

  1. Moderate or greater exertion is defined as having an 8-hour average equivalent ventilation rate > 13 l-min/m2.
  2. Estimates are the aggregate results based on 12 combined statistical areas (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Houston,Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Sacramento, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C.). Estimates are for the ozone season which is all year in Houston, Los Angeles and Sacramento and March or April to September or October for the remaining urban areas.
  3. All standards summarized here have the same form as the 8-hour standard established in 1997 which is specified as the 3-year average of the annual 4th highest daily maximum 8-hour average concentrations must be at or below the concentration level specified. As described in the 2007 Staff Paper (EPA, 2007a, section 4.5.8), recent O3 air quality distributions have been statistically adjusted to simulate just meeting the 0.084 ppm standard and selected alternative standards. These simulations do not represent predictions of when, whether, or how areas might meet the specified standards. As shown in Table 1, aggregate estimates of exposures of concern for the 12 urban areas included in the assessment are considerably larger for the benchmark level of 0.060 ppm O3, comparedto the 0.070 ppm benchmark level. Substantial year-to-year variability is observed in the number of children estimated to experience exposures of concern at and above both the 0.060 and 0.070 ppm benchmark levels. As shown in Table 1, aggregate estimates of exposures of concern at and above a 0.060 ppm benchmark level.

One response to “EPA’S New Ozone Rule: Part 13

  1. Pingback: EPA’s New Ozone Rule: Part 24 | Michael Klein's Environmental Essays

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