BR Area Fails New EPA Ozone Standards

(Baton Rouge-AP) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said today that Baton Rouge and several surrounding parishes fail to meet more stringent ozone air quality standards. The Baton Rouge area, which has been fighting poor air quality, was the only area in Louisiana that failed to meet to the new standards.

The EPA gave the Baton Rouge area until 2007 to reduce the amount of smog and get into compliance with the new standards. Today, the EPA, acting under court order, told 31 states to develop new pollution controls because the air in some of their counties, home to more than 150 million people, does not meet federal health standards.

Ground-level ozone, a precursor to smog, has been found to be a serious health problems, causing respiratory illnesses. Health advocates say it can be especially damaging to the elderly, children and people with asthma. Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Iberville, Livingston and West Baton parishes are included in the "nonattainment area" for the stricter eight-hour ozone standard. The same parishes had failed to meet standards for a one-hour standard.