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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposes updated but inadequate standards for fine particulate matter

January 6, 2023 Work Area: Power Plants

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposed revision of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for particulate matter. Periodic review of the NAAQS based on updated science is required under the Clean Air Act. 

“The proposal released today by the EPA seeks comment on a range of primary standards for fine particulate matter, but unfortunately does not prefer the most health-protective levels recommended by the CASAC, specifically 8 µg/m3 for the annual standard and 25 µg/m3 for the 24-hour standard, which would provide the margin of safety required by statute,” said Hayden Hashimoto, Associate Attorney at Clean Air Task Force. “This is disappointing because exposure to this kind of pollution poses serious health risks and disproportionately impacts low-income and historically marginalized communities that tend to be located near major transportation routes and hubs and industrial facilities. Given EPA’s focus on these communities, not to mention its legal mandate to protect public health with these standards, this should be an opportunity to protect communities and advance environmental justice, and we will urge EPA in strong public comments to follow the scientific evidence and the advice of the CASAC in finalizing an annual standard of 8 µg/m3 and a 24-hour standard of 25 µg/m3.” 

Fine particulate matter is emitted by combustion sources, including cars, trucks, industry, and power plants, and the Clean Air Act requires the primary NAAQS to be set at a level that protects public health with an adequate margin of safety to protect sensitive populations and account for scientific uncertainty regarding health effects.  

The scientific evidence available in EPA’s Integrated Science Assessment documents provides adequate support for setting the fine particulate matter standards at these levels, which would be consistent with the recommendation of the majority of EPA’s science and health experts,” Hashimoto added. “Setting the standards at these levels would provide scientifically supported protections for public health from both typical and peak concentrations of fine particulate matter, and environmental justice communities and the broader population across the country would benefit. An annual standard of 8 µg/m3 and a 24-hour standard of 25 µg/m3 would require more aggressive action under the Clean Air Act either by states or the federal government to address this problem in polluted areas. Therefore, we will continue to urge EPA to set the standards at these levels, as it is critical for public health and the environment that they reflect the current scientific understanding of the threats posed by particulate matter.” 

Press Contact

Samantha Sadowski, Communications Manager, U.S.,, +1 202-440-1717

About Clean Air Task Force 

Clean Air Task Force (CATF) is a global nonprofit organization working to safeguard against the worst impacts of climate change by catalyzing the rapid development and deployment of low-carbon energy and other climate-protecting technologies. With 25 years of internationally recognized expertise on climate policy and a fierce commitment to exploring all potential solutions, CATF is a pragmatic, non-ideological advocacy group with the bold ideas needed to address climate change. CATF has offices in Boston, Washington D.C., and Brussels, with staff working virtually around the world. Visit and follow @cleanaircatf.

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