Safeguard our Health: Tell the EPA to set Strong Standards for Soot
On January 27th, 2023, the EPA issued an updated soot standard, proposing to strengthen the national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) for fine particle pollution, also known as particulate matter or PM2.5. However, this standard does not go nearly far enough, leaving communities exposed to this dangerous pollutant. A comment period, open until March 28th, gives the public an opportunity to express the need for more stringent soot standards. As a health professional, your voice is essential to enacting strong standards. 

Soot consists of particulate matter produced as a result of industrial manufacturing, car exhaust, and emissions from power plants and often composed of organic chemicals, acidic substances, and heavy metals. These particles enter the bloodstream through the lungs, and can cause a host of dangerous health issues, including asthma, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, low birth weight, and heart disease, among others. It also increases the risk of preterm birth and infant mortality. With more stringent standards, the EPA could save 20,000 lives every year. 

There is no such thing as a “safe” level of soot – the more stringent our soot standards, the healthier we are.

This is an issue of health inequity. Marginalized populations and communities of color are more likely to be exposed to soot pollution from nearly every major source, including power plants, vehicles, and industrial manufacturing. Discriminatory policies have forced communities of color into areas of industrial manufacturing, who are therefore living with increased exposure to particulate matter. The current EPA standard leaves vulnerable communities behind, and without imposing the strictest limits, communities of color will not see the essential reduction in mortality rates. 

Tell the EPA to act quickly, and to set the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for particulate matter no higher than 8 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) for the annual standard and no higher than 25 µg/m3 for the 24-hour standard to best protect the health of our patients and our communities.


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