Health, Environment, and Policy Doctoral Researcher Laura Gladson was interviewed on The American Journal of Managed Care podcast, Managed Care Cast, in the episode “Preventing Respiratory Illness and Death Through Tighter Air Quality Standards.” She discussed her efforts on the joint American Thoracic Society / Marron Institute Health of the Air report, which provides annual estimates of the health impacts of air pollution in US cities with air-quality monitors, based upon ATS standards. Asked why we have these ATS recommendations, Gladson responded:
There is consensus among air-quality experts that our current national air-quality standards are too high; there are many health benefits to be gained by lowering the standards to levels that better align with the most up-to-date epidemiological literature. EPA obviously goes through its own review process as it’s required to by the Clean Air Act, but this doesn’t always result in national standards that meet what the scientific community would say is necessary to really protect public health.
We see a very obvious example of this happening with our previous White House administration, but the EPA administrator at the time essentially gutted the scientific process for reviewing the current literature and the studies that we have on health impacts of air pollution. And they were putting people on these panels, not scientific experts but people with clear links with the fuel industry and taking away some of these review panels with outside experts who had been part of the process for years. So, most recently during the review of these standards, they were not changed even though really looking at the literature, they should have been changed—they should have been lowered. ATS itself is a society of air-quality scientists as well as clinicians in respiratory health, so their environmental health-policy committee actually looks at the literature themselves and determines what they think would really be the best standards at the federal level.