Environmental Protection

New Voluntary Program to Help Combat Soot Pollution

The EPA has announced a new voluntary clean air program, ‘PM Advance’, which will help communities continue to meet soot pollution standards, improve air quality, and protect public health.

On December 14, 2012, EPA updated the national air quality standards for PM 2.5 by revising the annual standard to 12 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3). These standards were last updated in 1997, but the revision will have major economic benefits with comparatively low costs. The health benefits have been estimated to range from $4 billion to over $9 billion per year.

The PM Advance program is designed to help communities who meet current standards continue to do so. Early work to reduce fine particles, such as PM Advance participation, can be incorporated into required planning. Through the program, participants will commit to taking specific steps to reduce fine particle pollution, such as putting in place a school bus retrofit program or an air quality action day program, while EPA will supply technical advice, outreach information, and other support.

Soot (fine particle pollution (PM2.5), can penetrate deep into the lungs and has been linked to a wide range of serious health effects, including premature death, heart attacks, strokes, acute bronchitis, and aggravated asthma in children. While federal rules are expected to ensure most areas meet the new standards, areas can participate in PM Advance to help them remain in attainment.

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