Health Group Pressures EPA on Particulate Matter Standards
2 MINS READSep 11, 2006 | 17:57 GMT
The American Lung Association (ALA) released "Clean Air Decision 2006," on Sept. 13 in an attempt to influence an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision that is scheduled to be made Sept. 27 on national air quality standards for fine particulate matter — air smaller than 2.5 microns — under the Clean Air Act. ALA claims scientists say this fine particulate matter, which can be emitted from automobiles and power plants, contributes to asthma and lung cancer, and can lead to premature death. The ALA is part of a coalition of environmental and health groups calling on the EPA to lower the current annual fine particulate matter standard of 15 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3) to an annual standard of 12 ug/m3, and also to lower daily standards. The report compares what the ALA claims are the public health consequences of EPA's current standards with ALA's lower proposal. Once the new EPA standards are set, EPA must monitor the particulate matter levels in counties and is required to compile a list of "nonattainment" counties. The establishment of the new EPA standard is important to public policy since lower standards mean more counties potentially will not meet them. This would lead to mandatory increased controls on emissions from vehicles, agricultural and industrial equipment and industrial facilities.