CONTACT: Sasha Tenenbaum
Senior Manager, Media and Public Engagement
Washington, DC—Today, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan proposed new National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for fine particulate matter pollution, also known as soot. In response to the proposal, Elizabeth Bechard, Senior Policy Analyst for Moms Clean Air Force, released the following statement:
“EPA’s proposed soot standards fall short of the protection that Moms Clean Air Force has long advocated. Particle pollution is deadly—and no amount of it is safe for us to breathe. This is the first update since 2012, as the Trump administration refused to revise these protections. While any strengthening of particle pollution standards is an improvement, EPA’s proposed standards don’t go far enough in protecting our children and communities from avoidable harms. We are especially disappointed that the proposed rulemaking does not strengthen the 24-hour standard for fine particle pollution, putting the 63 million people in the United States who experience unhealthy spikes in daily soot levels—often from industrial sources of pollution—at continued risk from breathing dirty air.
“Moms Clean Air Force members have fought for our children’s right to breathe clean air for over a decade, because we know that air pollution harms nearly every aspect of our health. The little lungs of our babies and children are especially vulnerable to the dangers of particle pollution—even before they are born. The pollution pregnant people breathe crosses into developing brains and hearts. Breathing fine particles causes asthma attacks, respiratory and cardiovascular illness, impaired immunity, poor birth outcomes, and even mental health impacts. Particle pollution is also one of the leading causes of premature death worldwide, contributing to tens of thousands of deaths per year in the United States alone. The elderly are also especially vulnerable.
“The burden of dirty air isn’t distributed evenly. Communities of color and low-income communities bear a disproportionate share of the health harms of particle pollution, as they are often located near pollution sources like high-traffic roads and heavily polluting industrial facilities.
“As Moms Clean Air Force members told EPA in July, the agency should follow the latest available science to better protect our families from the health harms of fine particles. We need standards of 8 μg/m3 for annual levels and 25 μg/m3 24-hour levels, as recommended by leading medical groups. Stronger standards will help prevent emergency room visits and hospitalizations, respiratory illness, heart disease, preterm and low birth weight babies, and deaths—and they will help prevent the stress and trauma for families that happen every time a loved one falls ill.
“Plainly, we cannot afford to pass up this chance to address particle pollution with the strongest possible standards. This may be a once-in-a-generation opportunity to save lives, to protect the health of our children and communities, and to advance environmental justice. Moms are urging EPA not to miss this crucial opportunity. EPA must finalize standards that follow the science and protect our children.”