AIR POLLUTION: Tougher standards would save lives, groups say

(November 16, 2011)

Imposing tougher national health standards for diesel soot and other microscopic particles would prevent as many 1,360 early deaths in the Riverside-San Bernardino area and as many as 4,230 in urban Southern California, according to a report released Wednesday by the American Lung Association and other organizations.

“It is taking months and years from people lives,” said Bonnie Holmes-Gen, an executive director for the American Lung Association in California.

The report comes after the Obama administration missed a statutory deadline last month to set new health standards for fine-particle pollution. Health standards are important because are used as the basis to regulate emissions from vehicles, factories and products like paints and varnishes.

Industry officials say tougher regulations are costly and hinder job creation

Soot and other types of fine-particle pollution have been linked in many studies to heart attacks, reduced lung function and other health problems, as well as higher death rates.

The Lung Association is recommending an annual average of no more than 11 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter of air, the low end of a range recommended by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency panel of science advisers.

The Bush administration in 2006 set the current annual standard of 15 micrograms per cubic meter of air. Critics then charged that the administration didn’t go far enough to protect public health and hadn’t followed the advice of the EPA science advisers.

Three year later, a federal court ruled that President Barack Obama’s EPA has to redo the 2006 health standard. The court found that the Bush administration had not adequately taken into account studies that link such pollution to various health problems.

The report released Wednesday was prepared by the Lung Association, the Clean Air Task Force and Earthjustice.


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