American Lung Association Applauds EPA Decision to Protect Public from Soot

Los Angeles, CA (December 14, 2012)

The American Lung Association in California applauds the Obama Administration’s decision to set a much stronger national air quality standard on particulate matter (soot), one of the nation’s most lethal air pollutants. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set limits on airborne microscopic particles, following the findings by independent scientists that this pollutant causes premature death at levels well below what is currently considered safe.

“Far too many people live in areas where soot pollution threatens their health. In fact, the American Lung Association State of the Air report ranked the Los Angeles region as the second worst area in the country for annual soot pollution. The Clean Air Act promises clean, healthy air for all, and this new standard moves us closer to that guarantee,” said Jane Warner, President and CEO, American Lung Association in California.

Particulate matter, also known as particle pollution or soot, is a mixture of liquid droplets and solid particles made of toxic chemicals, metals and smoke.  These particles are small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs and even into the bloodstream, leading to tens of thousands of premature deaths, heart attacks and asthma attacks every year.  Particles come from wide-ranging sources, including coal-fired power plants, industrial boilers, diesel vehicles and woodstoves.  

The EPA tightened the limit, called the national ambient air quality standards, for the annual average level of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) to 12 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) from the outdated standard set in 1997 of 15 µg/m3.  EPA made no changes to the 24-hour fine particle standard or the coarse particle standard (PM 10) despite evidence that both standards need strengthening.

The American Lung Association’s free State of the Air® smartphone app tracks current air quality conditions and next-day air quality forecasts for particle pollution and other widespread air pollutants.  This tool, which is available for Apple and Android, can be a valuable resource for people living in State with lung disease like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), people with heart disease or diabetes, as well as older adults and children.