/ Modified aug 3, 2017 11:46 a.m.

Yuma Legislator Calls on Jeff Flake to Raise Air-Quality Standards

State Rep. Charlene Fernandez criticized the U.S. senator for backing lower standards for ground-level ozone.

Charlene Fernandez hero Arizona Representative Charlene Fernandez (D-4). (PHOTO: Maya Springhawk Robnett, Arizona Science Desk)

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Over the past several weeks, Arizona Rep Charlene Fernandez of Yuma has criticized U.S. Senator Jeff Flake for backing lower air-quality standards for ground-level ozone. 

The U.S. House of Representatives recently approved a delay on Environmental Protection Agency standards passed during the Obama administration. The change would lower the acceptable levels for ground-level ozone to 70 parts per billion (ppb) from the current standard, passed in 2008, which allowed 75 ppb.

The Yuma area’s particulate matter level is well above the national EPA limit. Democrat Fernandez says the problem affects not only the health of individuals but the regional economy.

“When children have asthma, if your child stays home from school, mom and dad usually have to stay home with that child, and we’re talking about productivity. If mom or dad have to take that child to urgent care, if they don’t have insurance — that’s dollars and cents. So this affects all of us,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez says she has invited Flake, a Republican, to the region multiple times with no response and hopes to “hold his feet to the fire” to support higher air-quality standards. On his website, Flake has said the delay until 2025 “buys Arizona much-needed time” to comply.

Arizona Science Desk
This story is from the Arizona Science Desk, a collaborative of the state's public radio stations, including NPR 89.1. Read more from the Arizona Science Desk.
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