The following is a press release from The Sierra Club that was included in a recent email address from Mayor Setti Warren.

First Mayor in MA to sign letter from mayors across nation in support of clean air standards

NEWTON, MA — Monday, Mayor Setti Warren signed onto a letter urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to strengthen clean air protections against smog pollution. Citing the overwhelming evidence from the medical community on the dire impacts smog pollution has on children, seniors, and asthmatics, Mayor Warren is the first and only mayor from Massachusetts to sign the letter, which has already garnered 23 signatures from mayors across the country and will continue to gain momentum through September.

According to the American Lung Association (ALA), ground-level ozone pollution, also known as smog, often results in immediate breathing trouble. Exposure to smog pollution is linked to asthma attacks, chronic respiratory diseases, reproductive and developmental harm, and even premature death.

“My sister passed away from asthma when she was only 26 years old, which is why I strongly support this regulatory change to reduce air pollution,” said Mayor Setti Warren. “I commend President Obama’s leadership in making our air cleaner and safer for everyone, but especially for those who have respiratory diseases. Many families, like mine, have been touched in a very real way by pollution, a strong reminder that the environment’s health has an impact on our own. I am proud to stand with other mayors and leaders across the country to promote forward-looking policies, such as this one, in order to make our transportation more efficient and reduce energy consumption and emissions.”

The EPA estimates that the new regulations could prevent up to 7900 premature deaths and reduce lost school days by 1.9 million while saving taxpayers as much as $75 billion annually. In Massachusetts, the historic hospitalization rate for asthma has at times been higher than the national average.

The smog pollution standard, which is set and enforced by the EPA as the federal benchmark for clean air, was last updated in 2008. That year, the Bush administration rejected the recommendations of expert scientists and medical health professionals who warned that the now current 75 parts per billion (ppb) standard was insufficient to protect public health. Since then, scientists have continued to publish evidence that the smog standards should be set no higher than 60 ppb to adequately protect people’s health.

“We applaud Mayor Warren’s leadership on strong smog standards to clean up our air,” said Cathy Buckley, Chair of Sierra Club’s Massachusetts Chapter.

“According to doctors, inhaling smog is like getting a sunburn on your lungs. We urge President Obama and the EPA to finalize the strongest protections to clean up our air and help our loved ones breathe easier.”

In November, the EPA proposed lowering the smog pollution standard to somewhere in the range of 65 ppb to 70 ppb, while also seeking comment on setting it as low as 60 ppb. With the final smog pollution standard set to be announced in October 2015, the EPA has the opportunity to protect millions of Americans from dirty air and unnecessary illness.