- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
EPA’s proposal would strengthen the annual health standard for harmful fine particle pollution (PM2.5) to a level within a range of 13 micrograms per cubic meter to 12 micrograms per cubic meter. The current annual standard is 15 micrograms per cubic meter. The proposed changes, which are consistent with the advice from the agency’s independent science advisors, are based on an extensive body of scientific evidence that includes thousands of studies – including many large studies which show negative health impacts at lower levels than previously understood.
Thanks to recent Clean Air Act rules that have and will dramatically cut pollution, 99 percent of U.S. counties are projected to meet the proposed standards without undertaking any further actions to reduce emissions. Meanwhile, because reductions in fine particle pollution have direct health benefits including decreased mortality rates, fewer incidents of heart attacks, strokes, and childhood asthma, these standards have major economic benefits with comparatively low costs.
The Clean Air Act requires EPA to review its standards for particle pollution every five years to determine whether the standards should be revised. The law requires the agency to ensure the standards are “requisite to protect public health with an adequate margin of safety” and “requisite to protect the public welfare.” A federal court ordered EPA sign the proposed particle pollution standards by June 14, 2012, because the agency did not meet its five-year legal deadline for reviewing the standards.
EPA will accept public comment for 63 days after the proposed standards are published in the Federal Register. The agency will hold two public hearings; one in Sacramento, CA. and one in Philadelphia, PA. Details on the hearings will be announced shortly. EPA will issue the final standards by December 14, 2012.
Map showing counties in attainment in 2020 (PDF).