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L.A.'s air is clearer, but it remains dangerous for too many people

To the editor: I was surprised to hear President Obama label the ozone problem in Los Angeles solved, because I still see patients with asthma who struggle to breathe our polluted air. ("How bad was L.A.'s smog when Barack Obama went to college here?," Aug. 3)

While there has indeed been progress, much more remains to be done. To take a step toward healthier air in L.A., the president should direct the Environmental Protection Agency to strengthen the official limits for ground-level ozone pollution.

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Ozone can be deadly, shortening the lives of thousands each year at levels currently labeled safe. Studies warn that we've been enduring for years limits that are too weak and based on outdated science. Because of this, the ozone air quality alert system misleads California families into believing the air is safe to breathe when science shows it to be harmful.

That's why the EPA must adopt the strongest standard possible to limit ground-level ozone and protect our health.

Michael Ong, MD, Los Angeles

The writer, an associate professor in residence at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine, is a volunteer physician for the American Lung Assn. in California.

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