EPA Soot Pollution Standard Deadline is Friday
RICHMOND, Va. - Some experts say it's time for the EPA to finish the job and finalize new standards to protect Virginians from dangerous soot pollution. Particle pollution, or soot, is produced from sources such as tailpipes and power plants, and long-term exposure has been linked to chronic respiratory illnesses as well as heart disease and stroke.
Dr. Janie Heath, professor of nursing at the University of Virginia School of Nursing, says these microscopic particles are easily inhaled deep into the lungs.
"Once these particles are inhaled, they do get embedded in our respiratory system, which then will lead to the bloodstream, and then eventually will start going into the tissues and the organs."
The EPA has proposed tightening the annual exposure to fine-particle soot from 15 micrograms per cubic meter of air to between 12 and 13 micrograms. Groups including Earthjustice and the American Lung Association are calling for an even stronger standard of 11 micrograms that they say would save as many as 35,000 lives a year.
Opponents of the stricter soot rule say the expense outweighs the benefits to public health. But the president of Earthjustice, Trip Van Noppen, and others, counter that the standard will help lower medical costs and result in fewer deaths. He adds that polling has shown the majority of Americans want a stronger standard.
"People everywhere strongly support cleaning up the air and reducing the health problems that are caused by dirty air, even understanding that there may be some difficult economic adjustments or some costs incurred in having cleaner power plants or cleaner factories."
The EPA is under a court-ordered deadline of this Friday (Dec. 14) to set its final rule.
The polling results are available here.