EPA Ordered to Reconsider 2006 Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter

On Feb. 24, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ordered EPA to review and reconsider its 2006 decision on the national ambient air quality standards for particulate matter, a development the American Lung Association called a “critical victory” in the fight for healthy air in the United States.

The Lung Association, in partnership with its environmental colleagues and states, had challenged EPA’s decision on the grounds that science shows that the standards set in 2006 failed to adequately protect public health.

“This victory is especially important, because the public health threat posed by particulate matter air pollution is so grave,” said Janice Nolen, American Lung Association assistant vice president, national policy and advocacy. “We encourage EPA to follow the clear scientific evidence and adopt standards that will protect the millions living in areas plagued with unhealthy levels of air pollution as the Clean Air Act requires.”

Particulate matter can kill and is one of the most dangerous and widespread forms of air pollution, the Lung Association said. It is responsible for shortening the lives of tens of thousands American every year. Particle pollution can increase the risk of heart disease, lung cancer and asthma attacks.

Millions of people particularly are sensitive to particle pollution and face greater health risks from breathing particulate matter, including infants, children, teen, seniors, people with lung diseases like asthma, people with cardiovascular diseases and diabetics. Even healthy adults who exercise or work outdoors in areas affected by high levels of particle pollution are at increased risk.

“Strong, protective national air quality standards are fundamental for healthy air,” said Stephen J. Nolan, American Lung Association national board chair. “Today’s triumph will save countless lives and is an important step forward in the American Lung Association’s continued work to fight for air.”

The Clean Air Act requires that EPA set standards at levels that protect public health based on the current science. These standards define the official limits of air pollution that are safe for people to breathe and determine the goals for every state to clean up emissions.
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