In March 2023, the American Lung Association released a new poll showing that an overwhelming majority of American voters support stronger particle pollution standards. Getting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finalize stronger standards is a top priority for the Lung Association’s healthy air advocacy work. (Learn more about this campaign at Lung.org/stronger-standards.)
We worked with a well-respected polling firm, Global Strategy Group, to survey 1000 voters nationwide, asking questions to gauge voters’ opinions on clean air protections in general and stronger particle pollution limits specifically. The poll found strong support for these standards – 74% of voters support EPA setting stricter limits on particle pollution.
Here are three interesting takeaways from the polling results:
1. Voters support stronger annual and daily limits on fine particles.
EPA has two limits on the books for the amount of particle pollution that can be in the air, one for annual averages and one for daily spikes in pollution levels. EPA has proposed strengthening just the annual limit, but the Lung Association is calling for them to update the daily limit too, because it’s out of date and too weak to protect people’s health. A majority of EPA’s scientific advisors agree.
In our poll, we asked, “The Environmental Protection Agency is considering a proposal to update air pollution standards by placing stricter limits on the amount of fine particles, also called "soot," that power plants, oil refineries and other industrial facilities can release. These standards would limit pollution on an average annual basis and a daily basis. Do you support or oppose the EPA setting stricter limits on fine particles, also called ‘soot’?”
Across every category polled – including political party, race, age, and moms vs. dads vs. non-parents, we saw overwhelming support. We also saw net agreement across every category polled when we asked voters to indicate whether they agreed or disagreed with this statement: “The Environmental Protection Agency should reconsider its decision and place stricter limits on soot that align with the stronger standards that were recommended by the scientific advisors.” It is clear that the public supports EPA following the science and setting much stricter limits on soot.
2. Support is strong across party lines.
The poll asked people about both their political party and whether they identify as liberal or very conservative within their party. From liberal Democrats to very conservative Republicans, more people agreed with both questions above.
3. People continue to trust health voices on air pollution standards.
We asked voters how much they trusted different groups to comment on policies regarding air pollution. Doctors and nurses and scientists ranked near the top.
Research shows that the benefits of Clean Air Act protections dramatically outweigh the costs, and that the nation has dramatically reduced air pollution while the economy has grown. The nation doesn’t have to choose between healthy air and a healthy economy. Even so, when we presented voters with two statements – one arguing for stricter limits on fine particles, highlighting the health benefits of stronger soot standards, and one arguing against, highlighting the potential costs – nearly two thirds of voters said they agreed more with the former.
And when we asked what impact EPA setting stricter limits on fine particles would have, an overwhelming 77% said they would have a positive impact on “the quality of the air we breathe,” and 73% said they would have a positive impact on “the health of families like yours.”
What’s next? EPA is hard at work on these standards and will issue a final rule in the coming months. We’re continuing to call on them to set strong standards at levels that will truly protect health: 8 micrograms per cubic meter for the annual standards and 25 micrograms per cubic meter for the daily standards. You can still take action to urge EPA to follow the science and set stronger standards at Lung.org/stronger-standards.
Blog last updated: August 25, 2023