Nearly 600,000 Call for Strong Soot Standards in Public Comments to EPA


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A coalition of environmental, public health, and community groups submitted nearly 600,000 public comments to EPA in support of strong national ambient air quality standards for soot, also known as particulate matter, with Sierra Club members and supporters submitting over 18,000 public comments. 

The EPA has set an annual standard to address persistent and long-term exposure to soot, as well as a 24-hour standard to protect against harmful short-term spikes in pollution. In January, EPA released its draft update to these standards, proposing to lower the annual standards from 12 micrograms per cubic meter to a range of 9-10 micrograms per cubic meter, while inviting public comment on a wider range of possible standards. This proposal comes after EPA’s independent scientific advisory committee recommended setting the soot standard as low as 8 micrograms per cubic meter.

New research suggests setting the annual standard at the lowest end of EPA’s proposal would have an outsized positive impact on Black and low-income communities, reducing premature mortality in communities overburdened by pollution.

In addition to hundreds of thousands of public comments from community members, Sierra Club and partners will also submit technical comments to inform EPA’s soot proposal.  

In response, Sierra Club President Ramon Cruz released the following statement:

“Soot pollution is a deadly air and toxic pollutant that causes thousands of deaths every year. The Biden administration’s proposed soot pollution standard does not fully recognize the deadliness of soot, nor does it fully meet the guidance offered by EPA’s own scientific advisory panel.

“We’re holding the EPA accountable and asking the Biden administration to follow through on its promise to advance environmental justice by swiftly setting the strongest possible soot pollution standard.”

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