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EPA Air Quality Standard Follows Wrong Path Towards Protecting Public Health

EPA adopts particulate matter standards that reflect politics, not medical science
September 21, 2006
Washington, DC —

Today the Environmental Protection Agency adopted its most important public health decision this year as it finalized air quality standards for fine and coarse particulate matter (PM), also known as soot. Unfortunately, the EPA approach to reducing dangerous air pollution from industrial sources continues to allow unhealthy levels that put millions of Americans at risk for asthma and heart attacks, and premature death.

An Earthjustice suit on behalf of many public health and environmental groups required EPA to adopt today's standards, and additional standards for other air pollutants in the coming months. The following is a statement from Earthjustice attorneys David Baron and Paul Cort:

"Thousands of scientific studies have been conducted in the last decade that show the link between high air pollution levels and premature deaths. EPA has itself released studies that make this connection, but still the agency continues to ignore the science and adopt standards that fail to protect public health. Medical groups including the American Lung Association, the American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society and others have all called for tougher long-and short-term particle pollution levels. The EPA's own science advisory board echoed these sentiments, yet EPA still refuses to adopt the stronger health safeguards that scientists say are needed," Baron said.

"The courts, the scientists, and the doctors all agree on what EPA doesn't seem to understand. A stronger pollution standard means fewer premature deaths and better air quality for millions of Americans," Baron added.

"Air quality in California's Central Valley is abysmal," Paul Cort said. "In 2002, California proposed a daily standard that was the most stringent approach analyzed by EPA. It would have reduced premature deaths by the thousands, and provided cleaner air for millions of Americans. The biggest industrial polluters are fighting against stronger standards. Unfortunately for those who are most at risk – young children, those with asthma, and the elderly – EPA is listening to the polluters cries and not doing the job of protecting public health. It's time EPA stopped playing politics and started cleaning up our air."

The final standard issued today by EPA is available at:

To send a comment to EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson regarding the new standards, email, and reference the 2006 PM NAAQS standards. 


David Baron, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500, ext. 220
Paul Cort, Earthjustice, (510) 550-6700

We're the lawyers for the environment, and the law is on our side.