By: Roishetta Ozane, Louisiana State Coordinator, 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 speak today. My name is Roishetta Ozane, and I am a State Coordinator for Moms Clean Air Force living in Sulphur, Louisiana. I am here today to speak about the importance of setting the strongest science-based particle pollution standards to clean up our air, advance environmental justice, and protect our health. I would like to specifically address the need to strengthen the 24-hour standard to 25 micrograms per cubic meter.
Soot pollution, also known as particulate matter pollution, is a type of air pollution made up of tiny particles that are released into the air from burning fuels, such as wood, coal, and oil. These particles are very small and can easily be inhaled, causing health problems such as asthma and respiratory issues. The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed soot standard is a step in the right direction but does not go far enough. The failure to strengthen the daily standard is a failure to address the acute health risks to communities that are living with this pollution every day—communities like mine.
Soot pollution is a serious problem that can cause health issues, particularly in low income, Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities where there is a disproportionate burden of pollution. To this point, a stronger daily soot standard will advance environmental justice in areas that are overburdened by air pollution. In the United States, Black, Brown and Indigenous people breathe more soot pollution, on average, than white people because sources of this deadly pollutant are more likely located in and around their communities. In the US, people of color are six times more likely to visit the emergency room for air pollution-triggered childhood asthma than white people and Black Americans 65 years and older are more likely to die from exposure to soot than white Americans in the same age range. The proposed EPA soot standards fall short of the Biden administration’s commitment to advance environmental justice. EPA’s proposal does not adequately address disparities in soot-related health impacts.
Some primary sources of soot are burning fossil fuels in power plants and industrial processes. Families like mine living in heavily polluted areas deserve a strengthened daily soot standard to help address the health harms of short term pollution spikes. For children, particle pollution can cause a range of respiratory and other health issues, including asthma, bronchitis, and even cancer. Inhaling soot particles can irritate the lungs and exacerbate existing conditions, making it harder for children to breathe and play. Long-term exposure to soot pollution can also damage children’s developing lungs and make them more vulnerable to illness, but as a mother who has 2 children with asthma, I also know that short term soot pollution has consequences as well.
I’m very concerned about the 24 hour soot standard because we live so close to several petrochemical facilities that release an insurmountable amount of pollution daily. The sudden increase in pollution due to malfunction or incident means our air becomes even more dangerous to breathe. This means keeping an even closer eye on my children’s health and the increased potential of one of my children having a catastrophic asthma attack.
In conclusion, EPA must reduce particle pollution in our communities and I am calling on EPA to set a more health protective standard for soot of 8 micrograms per cubic meter for the annual standard and, importantly, to change the daily standard to a more protective 25 micrograms per cubic meter. We must do more to protect the air our children and our communities breathe every day and we must do it now.