Success! EPA Finalizes Tougher Air Quality Standards

Late last week,†the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new air quality standards for fine particulate matter, or soot. This decision represents a meaningful victory for the thousands of Care2 members and concerned Americans who are tired of breathing poisoned air just so the fossil fuel industry can enjoy billions in profits.

The†updated standards set the limit for safe concentrations of†harmful fine particle pollution (PM2.5), including soot, in the air at an annual level of 12 micrograms (one-millionth of a gram) per cubic meter, and a daily level of 35 micrograms per cubic meter.

Studies have shown that the number of hospitalizations for asthma increases when levels of particulate matter in the air rise. Coal-fired power plants, factories and diesel vehicles are major sources of particulate pollution. According to the NRDC, around 81 million people live in areas that fail to meet national air quality standards for particulate.

By 2030, it is expected that all standards that cut PM2.5 from diesel vehicles and equipment alone will prevent up to 40,000 premature deaths, 32,000 hospital admissions and 4.7 million days of work lost due to illness. And, further proving that pro-environmental regulations also make good economic sense, the EPA estimates health benefits of the revised standard to range from $4 billion to over $9 billion per year.

sierra club, soot, EPA, particulate, air quality

The announcement of new standards†has no effect on the existing daily standard for fine particles or the existing daily standard for coarse particles (PM10), which includes dust from farms and other sources, both of which remain unchanged.

According to a press release, the†EPA carefully considered extensive public input as it determined the appropriate final standard to protect public health. The agency held two public hearings and received more than 230,000 written comments before finalizing todayís updated air quality standards. Care2 members helped contribute to this grassroots effort, with over 24,000 thousand of us signing the Sierra Club’s “Stand Up for Strong Soot Protections” petition, and almost 11,ooo participating in the last minute “Deadline for Clean Air” action.

“The Sierra Club applauds the Environmental Protection Agency for finalizing these crucial, life-saving protections,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “These updated limits will prevent tens of thousands of premature deaths every year and continue the Clean Air Actís track record of cleaning up our nationís air, avoiding pollution-related health costs, and protecting our children and families.”


Related Reading:

EPA Must Enforce Clean Air Act on Coal-Fired Power Plants

2012 Had The Smoggiest May In Five Years

Don’t Drink The Water: Coal Industry Creates Third-World Conditions In The U.S.


Image via Thinkstock


Adio Ferdiansyah
Adio Ferdiansyah3 years ago

Thank you for Sharing this!

Lauren S.
Lauren S3 years ago

This is good news! We still have a lot of work to do, but it is a step in the right direction!

Ro H.
Ro H3 years ago


Alicia Guevara
Alicia Guevara3 years ago

Good news!

Carrie Anne Brown

good news :) thanks for sharing

Nils Lunde
PlsNoMessage se3 years ago


Ro H.
Ro H3 years ago


Yulan Lawson
Yulan Lawson3 years ago

It's a start.

Rodolphe Debelhoir

Thank you for sharing.

Anna M.
Anna M3 years ago

one teeny tiny step in the right direction