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Jan 7, 2010 12:35 PM by Dina Cappiello, Associated Press

EPA tightening smog rules

The Environmental Protection Agency is setting stricter health standards for smog.

Hundreds more counties nationwide will likely be in violation. The EPA says it will cost tens of billions dollars annually to reduce pollution to meet the limits.

Smog irritates the lungs, and can lead to asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses.

The stricter standards are expected to reduce emergency room visits, premature deaths and missed work and school days. The EPA said children particularly will enjoy better health. The proposed range was what scientists had recommended during the Bush administration. However, former President George W. Bush personally intervened and set the standard above what was advised after protests from electric utilities and other industries.

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