The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is updating important air quality standards known as the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for soot, which is particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5) air pollution, for the first time since 2012. PM2.5 air pollution is composed of extremely small particles that can irritate your lungs and travel into your bloodstream, causing a variety of dangerous health conditions and killing tens of thousands of U.S. residents per year.
PM2.5 is one of the most widespread and dangerous air pollutants because it’s emitted by a large variety of sources while causing a variety of health problems. PM2.5 pollution is associated with respiratory problems, including lung function in children, cardiovascular disease, and overall life expectancy.
Submit an official comment now to help save thousands of lives across the country.
The EPA is proposing to reduce the allowable annual PM2.5 average concentration¹ to between 9 and 10 µg/m³ (micrograms per cubic meter) from the current limit of 12 µg/m³, even though its own internal research concluded that a stronger standard would better protect public health. EPA is also not proposing to update the current 24-hour standard² of 35 µg/m³, which has remained unchanged since 2006.
The World Health Organization recommends an annual standard of 5 µg/m³ and a 24-hour standard of 15 µg/m³ in order to best protect public health. EPA must aim to achieve these air quality goals by 2035. EPA’s own research confirms that lowering the annual limit to 5 µg/m³ would likely save 30,000 more U.S. lives per year than the 8 µg/m³ standard.
Additionally, the EPA currently measures the 24-hour average from midnight to midnight, which divides overnight elevations in PM2.5 concentrations across two days, missing a portion of the spikes that impact human health. Instead, the EPA needs to determine whether the standard is exceeded in any given 24-hour period, such as from 10:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. or 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
After not updating these vital public health standards for so long, the EPA must finalize more protective air pollution standards and make a clear plan to reduce air pollution over the next decade.
Please click here to demand EPA improve proposed PM2.5 standards.