By: Elizabeth Brandt, National Field Manager, Moms Clean Air Force
Date: February 21, 2023
About: Environmental Protection Agency Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2015-0072
To: Environmental Protection Agency
Hello, and thank you for listening to my testimony today. My name is Elizabeth Brandt, mom to Natalia and Valencia. I live on the traditional lands of the Anacostan (Nacotchtank) and Piscataway peoples in the DC area. I am a National Field Manager for Moms Clean Air Force, an organization of 1.5 million parents and caregivers across America who are taking action against air pollution and climate change. We are motivated by love for our children, and we are asking EPA to stand strong in protecting their health.
EPA’s proposed particle pollution standard is a step in the right direction but does not go far enough. I am calling on EPA to set a more health protective standard for particle pollution of 8 micrograms per cubic meter for the annual standard and 25 micrograms per cubic meter for the daily standard.
Protection from soot pollution is important to the health of American children—soot pollution can penetrate our lungs and bloodstream, causing devastating health impacts. Parents can’t provide clean air to kids on their own—EPA needs to lead America toward clean air standards that adequately protect all of our precious kids. By tightening the soot standard, EPA could prevent 46,000 emergency department visits for pediatric asthma each year.
I’m also concerned about the health of the elders in my life. Over 6 million Americans struggle with Alzheimer’s, and nearly a million are living with Parkinson’s. Some of my family members are in these numbers. Exposure to polluted air can cause inflammation in our brains, and an emerging body of research links particle pollution to an increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. These are vicious diseases, and caring for elders experiencing them is a huge task. I know this firsthand. If we know that lessening peoples’ exposure to soot pollution can reduce the number of people with neurodegenerative diseases, as well as asthma, diabetes, heart disease and more—then shouldn’t we enact the strongest possible protections?
I know that there is always hue and cry from regulated industry about the cost of reducing their pollution, but let’s also talk about the cost—human and economic—of allowing them to pollute. Let’s start with home health costs for an older person with advanced Parkinson’s disease. My family recently spent 10,000 per month on home health care. What does it cost to care for someone in the ICU for even one day? Many of these costs are covered by Medicare, so as a family member it may mercifully feel cost free—but we all cover the cost of having our fellow Americans on Medicare and Medicaid in the hospital. Let’s reduce the suffering of our neighbors, near and far, from preventable diseases. Let’s invest in pollution reduction because we see that our collective health is worth it!
The proposed EPA soot standards fall short of the Biden administration’s commitment to advance environmental justice. Communities of color experience disproportionately high exposure to soot pollution. Research shows that soot-caused deaths and other health harms, like asthma attacks that send people to the hospital, disproportionately burden Black and Hispanic populations, as well as people living in poverty. Stronger protections against soot pollution would lessen the disparity.
Every day that passes without stronger 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.