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Sierra Club Conservation Policies

Toxic Air Pollutants

  1. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must begin immediately to identify those toxic substances that are hazardous air pollutants, list them as such, and regulate them. Legislation should be enacted to set a strict timetable for the EPA to accomplish this. At a minimum, 30-40 substances shall be reviewed, and where appropriate, regulated, over the next four years.
  2. The EPA shall review, for potential health impacts, toxic air pollutants that may be reasonably anticipated to result in an increase in mortality, or an increase in serious irreversible or incapacitating reversible illness. The EPA should use the best evaluative techniques and data available, and consider toxicity, relative exposure factors, cumulative and synergistic effects, and formation of hazardous air pollutants in the environment from precursors.
  3. Once a toxic substance is identified and listed as a hazardous air pollutant, the EPA shall set standards that protect people with an ample margin of safety, as required under the Clean Air Act.
  4. Such toxic air pollutants as carcinogens for which threshold levels have not been determined, or for which there are no health-effect thresholds, must be given special attention. If the EPA administrator determines that a goal of zero emissions cannot be achieved and a technology-based standard is used, the standard should require the use of the best controls available, at least as stringent as those recently in use by similar sources. The EPA should require stringent levels of control, including the elimination of use of the toxic substance and /or the substitution of a less toxic substance. The required levels of control shall be re-evaluated periodically in the light of new technology.
  5. The EPA shall have primary responsibility for controlling hazardous air pollutants. Working closely with the EPA, states shall conduct surveys to identify toxic air pollutants with local impacts. Information from these surveys shall be provided to the EPA to guide decisions on which additional substances should be reviewed and, where appropriate, regulated. State and local governments may adopt standards more stringent than those of the EPA and timetables that accelerate compliance with EPA deadlines.
  6. The EPA shall establish a committee of health professionals, scientists, and other qualified experts, including, if appropriate, members of the Scientific Advisory Board and the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, to review available information and make or review recommendations concerning levels of control, priorities, and research needs for an effective hazardous air pollutants control program.
  7. Congress and the administration should provide the EPA with adequate resources for health research and development of control technology. A substantial increase in funding to adequately address hazardous air pollutants is needed over the next two years.
  8. Public input and appeal shall be an integral element of the hazardous air pollutant control program.

Adopted by the Board of Directors, December 1-2, 1984


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