By: Claire Brandt, Maryland volunteer, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: February 22, 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 Claire Brandt, and I am a volunteer for Moms Clean Air Force. I am an artist—a painter—and am also a graphic designer. I have asthma, and I am a cancer-survivor. I currently live in Silver Spring, Maryland, but have lived most of my life in the Pacific Northwest and California. I am testifying today on the EPA’s proposed particle pollution (soot) standard. I am urging the EPA to set a more protective standard for soot of 8 micrograms per cubic meter for the annual standard and 25 micrograms per cubic meter for the daily standard. Stronger standards will do more to protect our health, will save more lives, and will help us breathe freely.
I have asthma. It’s a panic-inducing feeling to realize that you can’t draw a full breath. I keep an inhaler on hand all the time. Usually my asthma is triggered by something in my environment, or by exercise. It is made worse by particle heavy air. I know this in no uncertain terms because in Seattle I lived under the horrifying smoke from the Western states’ wildfires for periods of almost every summer between 2012 and 2020. September of 2020 was the worst I have ever seen or felt. Have you ever seen lived in air quality over 250? I literally could not leave my house for five days because the air quality was so bad. I don’t mean I rarely went out; I mean I did not go outside at all, and I taped the seams of my windows and doors, in a probably futile effort to keep the particle-heavy air out. While the wildfire smoke is a climate disaster indirectly tied to pollution, and therefore not exactly under the EPA’s control, the experience was an apocalyptic preview of what soot-filled air can do.
I urge you, EPA, to adopt stronger standards on soot/particulate pollution to help people like me keep breathing comfortably.
- By tightening the soot standard, EPA could prevent 46,000 emergency department visits for pediatric asthma each year.
- Families and communities living in heavily polluted areas deserve a strengthened daily soot standard to help address the health harms of short term pollution spikes.
- According to the American Lung Association, 63 million people in the United States experience unhealthy spikes in daily soot pollution, and communities of color are disproportionately exposed to higher-than-average levels of this dangerous pollutant.
- Spikes in daily soot pollution can result in acute health impacts during or soon after a day of poor air quality, such as asthma attacks and hospitalization for respiratory and cardiovascular disease.
Every day that passes without these protections is a missed opportunity to protect our health, advance environmental justice, and reduce other dangerous pollution from these sources. Our communities deserve action now. I am urging EPA to set a more health protective standard for soot of 8 micrograms per cubic meter for the annual standard and 25 micrograms per cubic meter for the daily standard.
Let’s reverse the path we are on and create a clean earth, clean air, and clean water future. Help us breathe freely.