Physicians, Nurses and Other Health Professionals Urge EPA To Quickly Release Stronger Pollution Standards

More than 1,000 healthcare professionals sign letters urging EPA to choose the most protective levels – 8 µg/m3 for the annual standard and 25 µg/m3 for the 24-hour standard

Today, the American Lung Association delivered letters to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed by more than 1,000 physicians, nurses, public health and other health professionals to strengthen, and then quickly finalize the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for particulate matter air pollution. The standards, which were supposed to be finalized last month, are overdue and urgently needed.

The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to ensure healthy outdoor air quality by setting NAAQS for several pollutants that are known to be harmful to public health, such as fine particulate matter, also known as particle pollution, PM or soot. In January 2023, EPA proposed new NAAQS for fine PM, which are much weaker than what scientists recommended and the public want and need to protect their health. 

“As a pediatrician, I want babies to be born as healthy as possible, and I want children to thrive and reach their fullest potential, without asthma attacks and other health problems. That’s why we need the strongest standards possible, to fully protect health,” said Anne Mellinger-Birdsong, MD, MPH, FAAP, who signed the letter. “Stronger national limits on particulate matter will drive cleanup of pollution and help keep people safe.”

“As health professionals, we do our best to help reduce the health harms impacting the communities we serve, but we cannot control the air quality. While the air people are breathing is much cleaner today than it was a few decades ago, the fact is that air pollution – particularly particle pollution – is still harming the health of people across the country. The current National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particulate matter are just too weak," reads one of the letters. "Please prioritize the health of our patients and communities we serve [with] National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter that match what the science shows is necessary: 8 micrograms per cubic meter for the annual standard and 25 micrograms per cubic meter for the 24-hour standard.”

"There is no safe level of air pollution. More protective standards are necessary to bring about health benefits nationwide and drive the overall cleanup of polluting sources, especially those that have long burdened communities of color disproportionately. Strengthening both the 24-hour and annual standards is important for achieving health and equity benefits," said one of the letters. 

Read the full letter referenced above here and a second letter, signed by members of the general public as well as additional health professionals, here.

Particle pollution is widespread and continues to worsen as climate change increases heat and drought, leading to greater risk of wildfires. The 2023 “State of the Air” report found that 63.7 million people lived in counties that suffered most from episodes of unhealthy spikes in particle pollution.

Particle pollution can cause serious health harms and can be deadly. Exposure can cause worsened asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); cause heart attacks, strokes, heart disease, congestive heart failure; cause lung cancer; increase risk of low birth weight or infant mortality and impaired lung function in children; and even shorten your life.

For more information, contact:

Jill Dale
[email protected]

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