By: Brooke Petry, Pennsylvania State Coordinator, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: February 21, 2023
About: Environmental Protection Agency Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2015-0072
To: Environmental Protection Agency
Thank you for the opportunity to testify. My name is Brooke Petry, and I am a Pennsylvania State Coordinator with Moms Clean Air Force. I live with my family in Philadelphia. On behalf of myself, and the over 100,000 Moms Clean Air Force members in Pennsylvania, I ask you to set standards for particle pollution that are no higher than 8 micrograms/cubic meter for the annual standard and no higher than 25 micrograms/cubic meter for the 24-hour standard. We are deeply concerned and disappointed that EPA’s proposed standards fall short of this. Stronger standards are key to protecting the health of our children and communities, and it is urgent that we act now.
My family, like so many others, deals with the daily challenges of living with asthma. As an asthmatic, and the parent of a child with asthma, I know firsthand how much air quality can impact the daily choices that I make. In Philadelphia, the childhood asthma rate is over twice the national average. As city dwellers, many families and children walk from place to place. We’re contributing less to the pollution spewing into the air, but as we go about our daily lives—walking to work or the store, or as our children walk to school or the park—we’re up close and personal with air pollution, and days with poor air quality can lead to tough choices. When children are exposed to unhealthy air, it can exacerbate asthma and other respiratory issues. And we know that children are particularly vulnerable to the health effects of particle pollution exposure because their little lungs are still developing. Children also have a faster rate of respiration—so more pollutants are entering their bodies as they breathe.
Pennsylvania is one of the states with the highest rate of deaths from particle pollution per capita. Nationally, 20 million people live in areas where levels of particle pollution are unsafe, and more than 60 million of us are exposed to short term spikes.
Stronger standards are incredibly important and would help prevent some of the harm our children are facing just by breathing. Setting an annual standard of 8 could prevent 46,000 emergency department visits for pediatric asthma each year. Stronger 24-hour standards would help ease the burden of daily spikes in particle pollution in our most vulnerable and most impacted communities.
Breathing is not something that is ever far from the mind of anyone whose life is touched by asthma. It’s something we know far too well that everyone NEEDS to do. And that’s the point—we don’t get to decide not to breathe until the air is safer. We all know that. So I can take every precaution to protect my kid, and myself. I can fill every inhaler prescription and memorize every sign of trouble. What I cannot do is control the levels of pollution in the air that we breathe. That’s the reason that parents around the country are counting on EPA. We need strong soot standards, and we need to meaningfully address air pollution in every community. Once again, I urge EPA to set a protective standard for particle pollution, consistent with the body of scientific evidence, no higher than 8 micrograms/cubic meter for the annual standard and 25 micrograms/ cubic meter for the daily standard. All families and communities deserve to breathe clean air. Thank you again for the opportunity to testify.