By: Elizabeth Hauptman, Michigan 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
Hello. I am Elizabeth Hauptman, a field coordinator with Moms Clean Air Force, living in Livingston County, Michigan. Moms Clean Air Force is a group of 1.5 million moms and dads fighting for clean air and climate for the sake of our children’s health and future. We have over 34,000 members in Michigan dedicated to the health and safety of the children here in our state.
First, I would like to thank EPA for taking my testimony today. 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. I’m 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.
There is strong scientific evidence that particle pollution is dangerous for little lungs, even at levels below the current standards. EPA’s proposal ignores what science tells us are the most health-protective soot standards, and this is a betrayal to moms and their children in Michigan. The fact is particle pollution causes asthma attacks and sends children like my son and niece to the ER. As a mom with a son and niece who have asthma, I can say that this proposal would put the health of Michigan’s 254,583 kids with asthma at risk—not to mention the thousands of others whose health is tied to the quality of the air they breathe. This proposal means more asthma attacks, missed school days, missed family outdoor activities, and an increased burden on our already strained health care system. EPA’s refusal to set the strongest possible standards for particle pollution makes children like my son and niece more vulnerable to severe illness and asthma attacks.
In my family, on days when the air quality index is poor, we know it is going to be a tough day for our son. We always need to remember to bring his inhaler wherever we go, and when his inhaler is not effective, we need to use his nebulizer. After summer camps, outdoor basketball games, swim meets, and family BBQs in the past few years, during some of the hottest and worst air quality days, we have rushed home for his nebulizer treatments. My son misses out on sporting events, camps, barbecues, and other fun activities on hot summer days when the air quality is poor.
Our exposure to particle pollution is affected by the proximity of emission sources to homes, schools, playgrounds, and other frequented locations. According to the University of Michigan School of Public Health report entitled, “Air Pollution, sources, exposures, & health impacts,” Detroit is notable for its numerous and large industrial pollution sources. These include coal-fired power plants, steel and cement facilities, petroleum refineries, incinerators, and others. It’s estimated that 1 in 4 children in Detroit have asthma. Latino children are twice as likely to die from asthma, and Black children are 10 times more likely to die from asthma than white, non-Hispanic kids. Pollution harms all of us, but disproportionately impacts children and communities of color.
The idea that the current standards may not be protecting him and children with this chronic illness is unacceptable to me as a mom. Declining to strengthen these standards to the level scientists say is necessary to protect public health is a major setback for asthmatic children and other vulnerable populations. I urge EPA to strengthen the particle pollution standards in order to protect public health. Our children’s health and future depends on it. Thank you again for the opportunity to testify.