Carbon dioxide gets all the press, but the U.S. EPA is way behind on its legal obligation to update the nation’s carbon monoxide regulations — and it needs to get crackin’, a federal judge ruled this week. Federal law requires a reassessment of carbon-monoxide standards every five years, but the EPA last took a look at the standards in 1994. While carbon monoxide is not considered to be a huge public-health threat, two recent studies have found that it could be dangerous at levels previously considered safe. Carbon monoxide comes from auto tailpipes and fossil-fuel refineries and can cause health problems, birth defects, and, at high levels, death. Following full scientific review and a comment period, any changes to the standard must take place by May 2011, said U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White, rejecting the EPA’s request for an extension to October 2012.

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