Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

EPA Tightens Standards for Deadly Soot Pollution

Energy
EPA Tightens Standards for Deadly Soot Pollution

Environment America

The U.S. EPA has a new rule that will force communities across the country to improve air quality by the end of the decade while making it harder for some industries to expand operations without strict pollution controls.

Today the Obama administration strengthened air quality standards for particulate matter or “soot” pollution. Soot pollution is the deadliest of the common air pollutants, causing thousands of premature deaths every year across the country through a variety of cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses. It also contributes to haze that hangs over many of the country’s most scenic parks and wilderness areas.

Sources of soot pollution include power plants and diesel trucks and buses. The strengthened standards, issued today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), better reflect the latest scientific research. The new standard outlines how much soot pollution can be in the air and still be safe to breathe.

“Today’s announcement by President Obama and EPA will mean less deadly pollution in our air, and that should make all Americans breathe a little easier," said Margie Alt, executive director of Environment America. Environment America applauds the Obama administration for pushing ahead this much-needed public health safeguard, for the sake of Americans’ health, and our environment.”

The updated standards finalized today are National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for fine particulate matter pollution (PM 2.5), which the U.S. EPA is required to set and update under the Clean Air Act.  If an area is found to have levels of pollution that exceed the NAAQS, they are said to be in “nonattainment” and local and state agencies are then required to develop a plan to reduce pollution levels through various pollution control measures. EPA is required to update these standards periodically to reflect the latest scientific research regarding how much pollution can be in the air and yet still be safe to breathe.

The U.S. EPA is expected to strengthen the annual NAAQS for fine particulate matter pollution to 12 micrograms per cubic meter (the existing standard of 15 micrograms per cubic meter has been in place since 1997), as numerous studies have documented that the weaker current standard is not protective of public health.

The U.S. EPA received more than 422,000 comments in support of strengthening these air quality standards for soot pollution, in response to a public comment period it held this summer.

Visit EcoWatch’s COAL pages for more related news on this topic.

 

Google Earth's latest feature allows you to watch the climate change in four dimensions.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Researchers say there's a growing epidemic of tap water distrust and disuse in the U.S. Teresa Short / Moment Open / Getty Images

By Asher Rosinger

Imagine seeing a news report about lead contamination in drinking water in a community that looks like yours. It might make you think twice about whether to drink your tap water or serve it to your kids – especially if you also have experienced tap water problems in the past.

Read More Show Less
Trending
A new report urges immediate climate action to control global warming. John W Banagan / Getty Images

A new report promoting urgent climate action in Australia has stirred debate for claiming that global temperatures will rise past 1.5 degrees Celsius in the next decade.

Read More Show Less
Winegrowers check vines during the burning of anti-frost candles in the Luneau-Papin wine vineyard in Le Landreau, near Nantes, western France, on April 12, 2021. SEBASTIEN SALOM-GOMIS / AFP via Getty Images

French winemakers are facing devastating grape loss from the worst frost in decades, preceded by unusually warm temperatures, highlighting the dangers to the sector posed by climate change.

Read More Show Less
A recent study focused on regions in Ethiopia, Africa's largest coffee-producing nation. Edwin Remsberg / Getty Images

Climate change could make it harder to find a good cup of coffee, new research finds. A changing climate might shrink suitable areas for specialty coffee production without adaptation, making coffee taste blander and impacting the livelihoods of small farms in the Global South.

Read More Show Less