The White House recently modified the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal to limit soot emissions, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post, inviting public comment on a slightly weaker standard than the agency had originally sought.
The EPA had originally wanted to tighten the annual exposure to fine-particle soot from 15 micrograms (µg) per cubic meter of air (this is the current legal limit) to 11 micrograms per cubic meter, but the Office of Management and Budget directed the EPA to make the limit between 12 and 13 micrograms per cubic meter of air.
Howard Feldman who directs regulatory and scientific affairs for the American Petroleum Institute told the Los Angeles Times that a more stringent standard would be expensive and be of little benefit.
The 12-13 µg is a less strict standard than many environmentalists wanted. A 2011 report by the American Lung Association, Clean Air Task Force, and Earthjustice suggested that A 2011 report by the American Lung Association, Clean Air Task Force, and Earthjustice suggested that a limit of 11 µg per cubic meter of air could prevent more than 35,000 premature deaths a year.
The World Health Organization estimates that 3% of all mortalities from cardiopulmonary disease worldwide are due to exposure to fine particles, as are 5% of lung cancer deaths.
Particle pollution, commonly referred to as “soot,” is one of the deadliest forms of air pollution. It is a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets. Fine particles linked to a wide range of human health problems. Once inhaled they pass through the throat and nose , enter the lungs, the bloodstream and other organs, causes serious health effects. They worsen allergy, asthma, and other respiratory diseases.
Fine particles, 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller, can be directly emitted from sources such as forest fires, or from gases emitted from power plants, oil refineries, other heavy industries and automobiles which react in the air.
Cleaning fine PM from the air can help to reduce emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and lost productivity caused by asthma exacerbations.
A new study by a group of researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests that curbing ozone could provide greater benefits than previously thought. The team looked at 20 states and the District of Columbia where power plants and boilers are required to limit nitrogen oxide pollution between May 1 and Sept. 30 each year. As a result, these states and the District cut prescription drug expenditures by 1.9 percent, or $900 million a year, and had 2,200 fewer annual premature deaths among individuals aged 75 or older, within the studied period from 2003 to 2008.
standards are important to protecting the public’s health and current standards are inadequate.
AAFA urge everyone — especially those whose health is more likely to be compromised by pollution — to let EPA know that it should act to protect their health by issuing stronger standards to control particulate matter pollution.
AAFA post details online on how to comment at: www.aafa.org/advocacy.