By: Karin Stein, Iowa 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, my name is Karin Stein. My pronouns are she/her/ella. I am Iowa Coordinator for Moms Clean Air Force, a national organization of over 1.5 million members fighting to protect our children from air pollution and climate change. I am grateful for the opportunity to speak at this hearing, and I support EPA’s decision to improve particle pollution standards, but I am also here to ask that you go further, especially with regard to the daily standard.
I want to tell you about my friend and Moms Clean Air Force volunteer, Alyson Glynn. That is her real name, and she lives in Muscatine, Iowa, where air quality has been poor for a long time. Aly’s family is of Latino descent, and her family roots in Muscatine go back at least three generations. She grew up in the industrial zone of Muscatine, where many families recently won a class action suit against a grain processing plant, one of three major polluters that include a coal-based power plant as well.
In her family alone, Aly saw her father die at a young age after suffering from a variety of chronic health problems. Her mother, brother, and youngest son suffer from chronic asthma and other pollution-impacted health issues that severely affect their quality of life. Her grandfather uses an oxygen tank almost all the time.
Aly’s family and many others in the area are victims of particle pollution levels that have never been sufficiently low, not even when polluters were abiding by annual PM2.5 standards currently in place. Your proposal to lower them to 9-10 micrograms per cubic meter is a step in the right direction, but please lower them to 8, which is still significantly higher than what the World Health Organization recommends. Research shows that thousands of lives would be saved and traumatic medical emergencies would be avoided if you lowered the annual standard to 8 micrograms per cubic meter.
And now I want to tell you about Grayson, Aly’s youngest son. He is the reason I am profoundly upset that EPA is not proposing to lower the daily PM2.5 standard.
Grayson is now eight and has never been able to enjoy a normal childhood. Every time the daily particle concentration rises in his neighborhood, he has to stay indoors. He has never—I repeat—never been able to play in the snow, because when cold, dry temperatures get added to the bad air in Muscatine, his lungs simply can’t function.
Yesterday (I am writing this on February 16), the daily particle pollution reading near his school rose again, and he is yet again hospitalized with an asthma attack. His lungs are becoming filled with scar tissue and nodules from frequent illnesses. Medical bills consume much of Aly’s household income.
Aly gets asked: “Why don't you just move?” Because her house is her home, in an area she can afford. Because generations of her family are rooted in Muscatine. Because her medical resources and specialists are nearby. Because everyone has the right to breathe clean air without having to become uprooted.
Clearly, the solution is not for vulnerable people to have to flee from industrial pollution, but for proper standards to be implemented—standards supported by scientific research. It is unacceptable for EPA not to lower daily PM2.5 levels. Grayson wouldn’t be in the hospital again if the daily variations didn’t make a difference. They do, and they must be improved.
Thank you for listening.