Sierra Club Pennsylvania Celebrates New EPA Soot Standards Primary tabs

Contact: Cindy Carr, cindy.carr@sierraclub.org

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- On February 7th, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its long-awaited National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particulate matter (PM2.5) -- commonly known as soot -- which will lower the annual standard from 12 mcg/m3 to 9 mcg/m3. Soot pollution is shown to increase the risk of asthma, heart attacks, stroke, cancer, and premature death, and nationally, this new standard is expected to prevent up to 4,500 premature deaths, 290,000 lost workdays per year, and result in as much as $43 billion in net health benefits in 2032. 

The EPA will now determine areas of the country that do not meet the new 9 mcg/m3 standards and will release those results within two years. States that do not meet the new standards will have 18 months to develop and submit plans to comply. 

In response, Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter Director Tom Schuster issued the following statement:

“Today’s announcement is a win for the health and safety of families across Pennsylvania, and the Sierra Club thanks the Biden Administration for putting forth a responsible soot standard that will help protect our communities from the dangers of air pollution and particulate matter. While we celebrate this moment, we know the work is far from complete. The Sierra Club is prepared to work with the EPA and our allies across the state to ensure that any region of Pennsylvania that is found to exceed these new standards will be held accountable to put forth the strongest implementation plan possible.”

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Data on particulate matter in Pennsylvania by county:
Allegheny: 

  • Transportation: 
    • According to an analysis from Clean Air Task Force, diesel pollution from trucks and buses contributes 63 tons per year of soot within Allegheny County. This diesel pollution results in an estimated 52 premature deaths per year, making Allegheny County one of the deadliest areas in the United States regarding exposure to diesel pollution. 
    • This diesel pollution adds an estimated 0.308 mcg/m3 to ambient PM2.5 levels in Allegheny County, and an estimated 0.227 mcg/m3 to ambient PM2.5 levels in Armstrong County. Bringing down soot levels from diesel pollution in both counties could help Pennsylvania comply with federal standards. 
    • Just one school district in Allegheny County has electric school buses, and no school district in Armstrong County has electric school buses. By applying for EPA funding to electrify more school buses, Pennsylvania leaders could further reduce soot pollution. 
  • Coal plants: 
    • According to Sierra Club analysis, pollution from coal plants contributes an estimated 0.35  mcg/m3 to ambient PM2.5 levels in Allegheny County.  Every year, pollution from coal plants causes an estimated 63 premature deaths in Allegheny County.  

Armstrong: 

  • Transportation: 
    • According to an analysis from Clean Air Task Force, diesel pollution in Armstrong County results in an estimated 3 premature deaths per year, and diesel pollution from trucks and buses contributes 5 tons per year of soot within the county.
    • This pollution adds an estimated 0.227 mcg/m3 to ambient PM2.5 levels in Armstrong County, and bringing down soot levels from diesel pollution could help Pennsylvania comply with federal standards. No school district in Armstrong County has electric school buses, and by applying for EPA funding to electrify school buses, Pennsylvania leaders could further reduce soot pollution. 
  • Coal plants: 
    • According to Sierra Club analysis, pollution from coal plants contributes an estimated 0.56 mcg/m3 to ambient PM2.5 levels in Armstrong County. Every year, pollution from coal plants causes an estimated 6.3 premature deaths in Armstrong County.

Cambria:

  • Transportation: 
    • According to an analysis from Clean Air Task Force, diesel pollution in Cambria County results in an estimated 5 premature deaths per year, and diesel pollution from trucks and buses contributes 7 tons per year of soot within the county.
    • This pollution adds an estimated 0.222 mcg/m3 to ambient PM2.5 levels in Cambria County, and bringing down soot levels from diesel pollution could help Pennsylvania comply with federal standards. No school district in Cambria County has electric school buses, and by applying for EPA funding to electrify school buses, Pennsylvania leaders could further reduce soot pollution. 
  • Coal plants: 
    • According to Sierra Club analysis, pollution from coal plants contributes an estimated 0.55 mcg/m3 to ambient PM2.5 levels in Cambria county. Every year, pollution from coal plants causes an estimated 13 premature deaths in Cambria county.

Delaware:

  • Transportation: 
    • According to an analysis from Clean Air Task Force, diesel pollution from trucks and buses contributes 26 tons per year of soot within Delaware County. This diesel pollution in Delaware County results in an estimated 24 premature deaths per year, making Delaware County one of the deadliest areas in the United States regarding exposure to diesel pollution. 
    • This pollution adds an estimated 0.336 mcg/m3 to ambient PM2.5 levels in Delaware County, and bringing down soot levels from diesel pollution could help Pennsylvania comply with federal standards. No school district in Delaware County has electric school buses, and by applying for EPA funding to electrify school buses, Pennsylvania leaders could further reduce soot pollution. 
  • Coal plants: 
    • According to Sierra Club analysis, pollution from coal plants contributes an estimated 0.17 mcg/m3 to ambient PM2.5 levels in Delaware County. Every year, pollution from coal plants causes an estimated 12 premature deaths in Delaware County.

Lancaster:

  • Transportation: 
    • According to an analysis from Clean Air Task Force, diesel pollution from trucks and buses contributes 34 tons per year of soot within Lancaster County. This diesel pollution in Lancaster County results in an estimated 22 premature deaths per year, making Lancaster County one of the deadliest areas in the United States regarding exposure to diesel pollution. 
    • This pollution adds an estimated 0.308 mcg/m3 to ambient PM2.5 levels in Lancaster County, and bringing down soot levels from diesel pollution could help Pennsylvania comply with federal standards. No school district in Lancaster County has electric school buses, and by applying for EPA funding to electrify school buses, Pennsylvania leaders could further reduce soot pollution. 
  • Coal plants: 
    • According to Sierra Club analysis, pollution from coal plants contributes an estimated 0.21  mcg/m3 to ambient PM2.5 levels in Lancaster County.  Every year, pollution from coal plants causes an estimated 14 premature deaths in Lancaster County.

Lebanon:

  • Transportation: 
    • According to an analysis from Clean Air Task Force, diesel pollution in Lebanon County results in an estimated 16 premature deaths per year, and diesel pollution from trucks and buses contributes 7 tons per year of soot within the county.
    • This pollution adds an estimated 0.285 mcg/m3 to ambient PM2.5 levels in Lebanon County, and bringing down soot levels from diesel pollution could help Pennsylvania comply with federal standards. No school district in Lebanon County has electric school buses, and by applying for EPA funding to electrify school buses, Pennsylvania leaders could further reduce soot pollution. 
  • Coal plants: 
    • According to Sierra Club analysis, pollution from coal plants contributes an estimated 0.25  mcg/m3 to ambient PM2.5 levels in Lebanon County. Every year, pollution from coal plants causes an estimated 5 premature deaths in Lebanon County.

Philadelphia:

  • Transportation: 
    • According to an analysis from Clean Air Task Force, diesel pollution in Philadelphia County results in an estimated 56 premature deaths per year, and diesel pollution from trucks and buses contributes 49 tons per year of soot within the county.
    • This pollution adds an estimated 0.351 mcg/m3 to ambient PM2.5 levels in Philadelphia County, and bringing down soot levels from diesel pollution could help Pennsylvania comply with federal standards. Just one school district in Philadelphia County has electric school buses, and by applying for EPA funding to electrify more school buses, Pennsylvania leaders could further reduce soot pollution. 
  • Coal plants: 
    • According to Sierra Club analysis, pollution from coal plants contributes an estimated 0.12 mcg/m3 to ambient PM2.5 levels in Philadelphia county. Every year, pollution from coal plants causes an estimated 22 premature deaths in Philadelphia county.

About the Sierra Club: The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.