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Uncovering America's methamphetamine history; PA Early Intervention programs vital for child development; measuring long-term impact of the O.J. Simpson trial on media literacy.

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President Biden's name could be left off the ballot in Alabama and Ohio, the Justice Dept. mandates background checks for gun show purchases, and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds moves to allow state police to arrest undocumented migrants.

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Housing advocates fear rural low-income folks who live in aging USDA housing could be forced out, small towns are eligible for grants to enhance civic participation, and North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues.

Arizonans celebrate new EPA soot standards

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Thursday, February 22, 2024   

Arizona leaders are encouraged by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's new soot standards they said will protect people from dangerous and deadly particle pollution.

Sandy Bahr, director of the Grand Canyon chapter of the Sierra Club, said the revised standards will help reduce harmful pollution and improve air quality by lowering the standard for fine particulate matter 2.5 microns or smaller in diameter, known as PM 2.5, from 12 micrograms per cubic meter to nine micrograms per cubic meter.

"Due to its small size, soot can penetrate our lungs, get into our blood stream causing really harmful impacts, including premature death, heart disease, aggravated asthma and decreased lung function, coughing and difficulty breathing," Bahr outlined.

The EPA said the new standards will prevent up to 4,500 premature deaths and 290,000 lost workdays, yielding up to $46 billion in net health benefits in 2032.

Bahr pointed out the standard failed to strengthen the 24-hour PM 2.5 standard, which would have helped protect Arizonans from short-term spikes in air pollution.

Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association, contended the new standards are what he considers "a call to action," for air quality districts around the state and Arizona's Department of Environmental Quality.

"To come up with new plans to implement new strategies to reduce the amount of particulate matter this is coming off of agricultural lands, industry, paved roads, even fireplace dust and smoke," Humble urged. "There's a lot of different sources that they're going to have to take a look at now."

Humble added the new standard will prevent air quality districts and the Department of Environmental Quality from placing their monitoring stations in areas he said they know are clean, instead focusing on communities where people live and work.

Disclosure: The Sierra Club contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, and Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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