Stricter national smog rule could force changes in Idaho

Idaho StatesmanJanuary 12, 2010 

Idaho's Treasure Valley already has been teetering on the edge of violating federal air pollution standards, and tightening the rules will make it even more likely the region will find itself facing new regulations.

The EPA wants to lower the current 75 parts per billion ozone standard to somewhere between 60 and 70 ppb. The standards are designed to help infants, children, seniors and people who have asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis and other lung diseases.

Ozone, a form of oxygen, irritates the eyes and other tissues and aggravates existing respiratory and cardiac conditions. It forms when nitrogen oxide gas, emitted primarily from cars, mixes with volatile organic chemicals in the atmosphere and is "cooked" by sunlight. In 2008, President Bush told EPA officials to ignore a scientific advisory committee recommendation to set the ozone standards within this lower range. Under Obama, they are moving ahead.

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