Support Stronger Air Pollution Health Standards

The Clean Air Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set air pollution standards at levels that protect public health. On December 20, 2005, the EPA proposed new rules to limit particle pollution in outdoor air that fall short of their obligation to the American people.

Each year thousands of premature deaths occur because of particle pollution. Particle pollution also worsens asthma and other respiratory ailments. There is a strong consensus among scientists that the annual and daily limits on particle pollution need to be tighter to protect public health. EPA's own scientists and an EPA commissioned scientific panel also have proposed tightening both standards.

EPA Administrator Johnson, in spite of thousands of studies showing how dangerous particles are, proposed standards weaker than those recommended by scientists. This proposed rule leaves millions of Americans unprotected and threatens the lives of thousands.

Federal law requires the EPA to solicit and review comments on any proposed rule. We need to let them know that the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to protect our health, and that means tighter particle pollution rules.

Send an official comment to EPA and protest its proposed new rules that leave our lives and our health at risk.

Dear EPA Administrator Johnson,

I am writing to urge you to follow the recommendations of the air pollution health science experts and set new particle pollution standards at the levels necessary to protect public health. The standards you proposed (an annual standard of 15 ug/m3 and a daily standard 35 ug/m3) are too high to protect the public health. EPA should set a daily standard of no higher than 25 ug/m3 and an annual standard no higher than 12 ug/m3. Further, your proposal will allow unlimited levels of elevated pollution on far too many days each year. The standard should be set at the 99th percentile, meaning no more than four days in any year should be above the standard.

The science is clear. Thousands of scientific studies have found that particle pollution in the air causes serious health problems, including tens of thousands of premature deaths, increased use of asthma medications, missed school days, emergency room visits, strokes, and heart problems. Millions of Americans are at risk from breathing particle pollution, including people with asthma and other chronic lung diseases, children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

EPA staff scientists and a panel of independent scientific reviewers have recommended much lower limits in the national standards for the smallest, or fine, particles. Given the dangerous health effects, there was no reason to propose a standard higher than the lowest levels recommended by EPA scientists. Yet, inexplicably you have done so.

You should also provide even more protection than your staff has recommended for the limits on the larger, or coarse, particles to protect us from these larger, but still dangerous, particles. EPA should include all types of coarse particles in this standard. There is no scientific basis to determine that particles from any source - especially sources that can include toxics such pesticides and heavy metals - are safe for people to breathe. To protect public health, the coarse standard needs to cover all particles.

The science is overwhelmingly clear that your proposal does not protect the public health. Please follow the Clean Air Act and set the national standard at a level that truly will protect public health -- an annual standard of 12 ug/m3 and a daily standard and a daily of 25 ug/m3.

Thank you for considering my comments.

/Your Name/
/Your Address/
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