By Dan Shapley
New ozone standard designed to better protect public from harmful air pollution
Under court order, the Environmental Protection Agency today will propose new rules designed to slash ozone air pollution, better known as smog. Smog forms when the pollution from tailpipes and smokestacks interact in the presence of hot summer sun. The ozone can scar lungs, leading to asthma attacks and other respiratory disease. Since 1990, the Clean Air Act has targeted ozone-producing emissions -- primarily nitrogen oxides and volatile organic chemicals -- with increasingly strict regulation. Nitrogen also contributes to acid rain, a form of pollution which the public by and large perceives as corrected, but which remains problematic in many regions. In the Catskill Mountains of New York, for instance, scientists have found that nitrogen plays a bigger role in the continued acidification of streams than sulfur dioxide, the levels of which have dropped precipitously since the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments. With acid rain, part of the ongoing problem is that soils were so saturated with acid precipitation, that their ability to absorb even small amounts now is compromised, according to a story in the June 21 Atlanta Journal-Constitution.