EPA To Help States Meet Fine Particle Standards

As part of the nationwide effort to improve air quality, EPA announced on Sept. 9 it is proposing the steps state, local and tribal governments can take to reduce fine particulate matter pollution (PM2.5) in areas that do not meet EPA's health-based standards.

"In our steady march toward cleaner air, EPA continues to provide communities with the tools to address their air quality needs," EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson said. "New clean air rules will reduce pollution from power plants, industrial facilities, and on- and off-road vehicles and equipment. As these rules take effect over the next decade, EPA projects that air quality will improve across the country, helping to ensure that all Americans can work, exercise and play in cleaner, healthier air."

The proposed rule, known as the PM2.5 Implementation Rule, describes the planning framework and requirements for state, local and tribal governments to consider when developing their plan to reduce air pollution to meet the PM2.5 standards. Areas meeting the standard must show how they will ensure that PM2.5 levels remain below the standards.

PM2.5 -- approximately 1/30th the size of an average human hair -- has been associated with a variety of serious health problems including cardiovascular disease, chronic bronchitis and asthma attacks.

EPA issued the PM2.5 standards in 1997 and designated areas as attainment or nonattainment with the standard in December 2004. Nonattainment areas must meet the standards by 2010.

It is estimated that meeting these standards will prevent at least 15,000 premature deaths; 75,000 cases of chronic bronchitis; 10,000 hospital admissions for respiratory and cardiovascular disease; hundreds of thousands of occurrences of aggravated asthma; and 3.1 million days when people miss work because they are suffering from symptoms related to particle pollution exposure.

EPA will accept public comment on this proposal for 60 days from the date the notice appears in the Federal Register. For more information, visit http://www.epa.gov/pmdesignations.

This article originally appeared in the 09/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

comments powered by Disqus