Urgent: EPA proposed new national air quality standards for soot pollution that are insufficient for addressing the persistence of deadly soot emissions in the air.
In 2020, under the Trump administration, EPA decided to retain outdated soot pollution standards last strengthened in 2012. This regulatory decision was heavily decried by public and environmental experts nationally as failing to safeguard public health and the environment and neglecting the legacies of harm caused to environmental justice communities from toxic soot pollution.
On January 6, 2023, the agency released their long-awaited proposed new rules to strengthen national air quality standards for soot pollution, also known as particulate matter. EPA recommends the annual limit for fine particulate matter (PM 2.5), the smallest soot particles and greatest risk to human health, be decreased from 12 ug/m3 to between 9 and 11 ug/m3. Unfortunately, EPA failed to propose to strengthen or change the current 24-hour (daily) standard for particulate matter, which is at 35 ug/m3; they also did not propose any change to the secondary standard that is designed to protect ecosystems. These proposed standards are insufficient for protecting the public and the environment from the respective health and environmental hazards associated with soot pollution emissions. The EPA must act swiftly to consider and set the most stringent National Ambient Air Quality Standards for fine particulate matter pollution, finalizing the annual standard at no higher than 8 mcg/m3 for the annual standard and no higher than 25 mcg/m3 for the 24-hour standard to protect public health and the environment, as advised by EPA's panel of scientific advisers (Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, CASAC). While the EPA’s soot standard proposal is a step in the right direction, it's still insufficient to combat deadly levels of soot pollution in our air. The agency will be accepting comments on their proposed rules for lowering the standards below the limits the agency has proposed for 60-days until March 28, 2023.
Join us in urging EPA Administrator Micheal Regan to prioritize the needs of communities impacted by environmental injustice and other sensitive populations over polluters!
Tell The EPA To Protect Our Health!
In your comment, be sure to tell the EPA:
- EPA must act swiftly to consider and set the most stringent National Ambient Air Quality Standards for fine particulate matter pollution, finalizing the annual standard at no higher than 8 mcg/m3 for the annual standard and no higher than 25 mcg/m3 for the 24-hour standard to protect public health and the environment.
- The EPA shouldn’t give in to big polluters and their demands. With tens of thousands of lives lost each year to deadly soot pollution that is spewing from power plants, vehicle tailpipes, and industrial sources, EPA must put people before polluters and put into place a strong soot pollution standard that will save lives and clean up our air.
- The EPA’s insufficient proposal fails to mitigate the deadly impacts of soot pollution, especially in overburdened communities already suffering unacceptable environmental injustices. It’s a death sentence for nearly 20,000 people annually, and it falls far short of the Biden administration’s commitment to advance environmental justice and curtail deadly air pollution.
- An annual P.M 2.5 standard of 8 mcg/m3 could avoid 19,600 premature deaths, 46,000 incidence of asthma, and 12,000 respiratory emergency room visits per year nationally. Additionally, 75% of Black Americans are exposed to PM2.5 concentrations greater than 8 µg/m3 each year, compared to 59% of white Americans.
- Leaving the standards, last revised in 2012, to remain in effect for another five years would likely cause ten of thousands of avoidable premature deaths and cause undue harm to our air and waterways already under increasing pressures from the ever intensifying climate crisis.