In Finalizing Particle Pollution Standards, EPA Makes Progress for Public Health

In response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) finalizing updated National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Fine Particulate Matter, Harold Wimmer, President and CEO of the American Lung Association, issued the following statement:

"Particle pollution kills thousands of people in the United States each year. Today’s final rule from EPA on particulate matter pollution is a step forward for public health."

"Strengthening the annual particle pollution standard will make an important difference, especially for communities near a pollution source like a power plant or a busy road. Particle pollution kills. It can cause serious health harms from breathing problems, asthma attacks, cardiovascular problems to lung cancer and fetal harm. Children, seniors, people with lung or heart disease and people who work outdoors are disproportionately at risk, as are people in low-income communities and many communities of color who are exposed to higher levels of particle pollution.

"The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set pollution standards to protect the health of all, especially the most vulnerable. The standards do fall short of what the Lung Association called for and what the science shows is necessary. Science experts, health organizations and the public were united in their ask of EPA to finalize the national limits for fine particle pollutants to no higher than 8 µg/m3 for the annual standard and 25 µg/m3 for the 24-hour standard. In their final rule, EPA revised the annual standard from 12 µg/m3 to 9 µg/m3 and decided not to revise the current 24-hour standard of 35 µg/m3. EPA’s analysis of the proposal showed that setting an annual standard of 8 µg/m3 would save significantly more lives, especially in Black communities, than the standard of 9 µg/m3.

"While the stronger annual particle pollution standard will mean fewer asthma attacks, heart attacks, strokes and deaths, it is disappointing that EPA did not follow the strong science-based recommendations of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee and the health community to also revise the 24-hour standard to more fully protect public health.

"The Lung Association and health experts nationwide will work to ensure that this standard is fully implemented so that communities nationwide see the most health benefits possible. Further, we call on President Biden and EPA to continue its work finalizing clean air and climate protections, including measures to clean up trucks, cars and power plants. In pending rules, EPA has opportunities to set strict standards to curb particulate pollution from gasoline-powered cars and light trucks and significantly slash particle emissions along with toxic metals from coal-fired power plants. The Lung Association, health experts and people nationwide agree: Don’t Delay, Clean Air Today!"

For more information, contact:

Jill Dale
[email protected]

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