Thursday, September 21, 2006

Stronger Particulate Standards Needed

As many as 64,000 people die prematurely every year due to particulate pollution in our skies, yet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has refused to strengthen standards for particulate pollution. The impacts of this decision threaten the health of communities throughout Colorado.

The EPA announced today that it would not strengthen annual limits on fine particulate pollution, or particulates that are 2.5 microns in diameter or less—1/28 the size of a human hair. The EPA retained an annual standard of 15 micrograms per cubic meter, despite recommendations from its own Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee that the standard be as low as 12 micrograms per cubic meter to adequately protect health and save lives.

“The EPA has sadly turned its back on the health of our families and children,” said Jeremy Nichols, Director of Rocky Mountain Clean Air Action. “For many, this really is a matter of life and death. Sadly, the EPA chose death.”

If, as scientists recommended, the annual standard was set at 12 micrograms per cubic meter, the Denver metro area would be on the verge of being unhealthy. On several occasions, fine particle monitors in Denver have exceeded 12 micrograms per cubic meter.

The EPA also made only meager changes to daily fine particle limits, lowering the standard from 50 to 35 micrograms per meters cubed.

Particulate matter remains a threat to public health. Those most at risk are members of all of our families: children; seniors; those with asthma, with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other lung diseases; those with stroke and heart diseases; and those with diabetes. They face increased risk of dying early, having severe asthma attacks, heart attacks, stroke, and lung cancer as a result of particulate pollution.

“While improvements are better than nothing, EPA’s modest revisions cannot be justified,” said Nichols. “With our children’s future at stake, we can’t settle on a middle ground.”


At 5:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is more of a question. How does Colorado enforce the 15 micron regulation? Does it apply indivually to each industry, or cumulatively across all industries in Colorado?

At 8:39 AM, Blogger Rocky Mountain Clean Air Action said...

This is a good question. The standard applies at all times everywhere in our air. States are supposed to have laws and regulations in place that ensure the standard is never violated at any place or any time. They do this by setting limits in permits, which apply to industry collectively, that keep particulate below the standard. They also adopt other rules, like restrictions on street sanding and wood stove burning, that keep particulate levels in check.

In theory this is how it works, but in practice, more needs to be done to limit particulate pollution.


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