New EPA soot rules could impact California's Central Valley
December 14, 2012
• Might not be able to meet tougher standards
• “We will save lives and reduce the burden of illness”
Saying it is reacting to a court order, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized an update to its national air quality standards for harmful fine particle pollution, know to technicians by its shorthand, PM2.5.
The rules set the annual health standard at 12 micrograms per cubic meter. By 2020, 99 percent of U.S. counties are projected to meet revised health standard without any additional actions
Counties that might not include three San Joaquin Valley counties – Kern, Tulare and Merced -- plus Los Angeles County and other parts of Southern California.
The announcement has no effect on the existing daily standard for fine particles or the existing daily standard for coarse particles (PM10), which includes dust from farms and other sources), both of which remain unchanged.
“We will save lives and reduce the burden of illness in our communities, and families across the country will benefit from the simple fact of being able to breathe cleaner air,” says EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.
Fine particle pollution can penetrate deep into lungs and has been linked to a wide range of serious health effects, including premature death, heart attacks, and strokes, as well as acute bronchitis and aggravated asthma among children.
A federal court ruling required EPA to update the standard based on best available science. The agency says it has met the court’s order with Friday’s announcement.
It is expected that fewer than 10 counties, out of the more than 3,000 counties in the United States, will need to consider any local actions to reduce fine particle pollution in order to meet the new standard by 2020, as required by the Clean Air Act. The rest can rely on air quality improvements from federal rules already on the books to meet this new standard.
The standard was proposed in June. The EPA says it is consistent with the advice from the agency’s independent science advisors, is 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, and follows extensive consultation with the public, health organizations, and industry.