New Brief Highlights Dramatic Health Impact of Stronger Pollution Standards, Addresses Industry Opposition

Lung Association brief calls on the White House and EPA to finalize the strongest standards to clean up particle pollution nationwide

Today, the American Lung Association released “Clearing the Air: Particle Pollution Standards at an Inflection Point,” a brief that highlights the significant health benefits of stronger particle pollution standards and debunks industry’s misleading claims about the proposed rule. 

The Clean Air Act requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect health by setting National Ambient Air Quality standards (NAAQS) for several pollutants that are known to be harmful to public health, including fine particulate matter, also known as particle pollution, PM or soot. In January 2023, EPA proposed updating the NAAQS for particulate matter. The agency has committed to finalizing the rule by the end of the year. 

Here are key points from the newly released brief:

  • Finalizing stronger standards for fine particulate matter would have dramatic public health benefits, including thousands of premature deaths prevented and hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks avoided. 
  • In addition, an annual standard of 8 µg/m3 would save seven times more Black lives per every 100,000 individuals, every year, from air pollution-related mortality than a standard of 10 µg/m3.
  • The nation does not have to choose between clean air and a healthy economy. The economy (gross domestic product) grew more than 300% from 1970 through 2022, while aggregate pollution has been cut by 78%.
  • Industry reports and letters urging the administration not to strengthen the standards fundamentally misunderstand how the Clean Air Act works and use misleading calculations to make false claims about stronger standards.

The brief directly addresses opposition to updating PM standards from industry groups related to the economy, implementation process and what it means for an area to be designated nonattainment. It also notes, “Every time EPA goes through the process of updating the air quality standards, the same arguments get recycled to oppose them – false and exaggerated claims that industry cannot possibly clean up to meet the standards and eye-popping, inaccurate claims about the number of counties that will be in nonattainment and the purported ramifications of nonattainment designations. And then, every time EPA finalizes stronger standards and implements them, those same industries do clean up, the economy continues to grow and the air gets cleaner.” 

“The science is clear that particle pollution can cause serious health harms and can even be deadly. The American Lung Association and other health and medical organizations are calling on the Biden administration to finalize the strongest possible standards before the end of the year,” said Harold Wimmer, President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “Once EPA finalizes strong new standards, communities across the U.S. with unhealthy levels of pollution will begin work to improve their air quality.” 

Read the new brief, “Clearing the Air: Particle Pollution Standards at an Inflection Point” here.

For more information, contact:

Jill Dale
[email protected]

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