Reports & Consumer Guides
Smokestacks and Smoke Screens: Recommendations
On March 20, 1997, 1,375 medical professionals registered their support for the EPA proposal in a letter to President Clinton. According to these medical experts, tens of thousands of premature deaths and hospitalizations could be prevented each year by implementing more stringent air quality standards. Indeed, these medical authorities emphasized to the President that even under the EPA proposal "millions of people could still be exposed to harmful levels of particulate pollution". The letter then urges the President "to direct EPA to adopt air pollution standards that are at least as protective as those proposed", [emphasis added]
President Clinton and EPA Administrator Browner should listen to the public health community and medical experts, not the polluters or their so-called independent experts. Congress, in turn, must not cave to corporate lobbying or public relations campaigns.
More Protective Health Standards. The Clinton Administration's proposed PM 2.5 standard for fine particles represents a significant improvement in the status quo. But in order to fully protect the public health, and particularly the health of the most vulnerable individuals in the population, the proposal must be strengthened. We recommend an annual average PM2.5 standard of 10ug/m3, and a 24 hour PM 2.5 standard of 20ug/m3.
Close Monitoring Loopholes. The agency's proposed multi-monitor averaging scheme for compliance with the annual standard, and its proposal to enforce the daily standard at the 98th percentile of high pollution days, undermine the clear potential public health benefits of the proposed standard. We recommend, instead, that the agency retain current monitoring and enforcement procedures. At the same time, we support the agency's desire to expand and update the ambient air monitoring network. Additional monitoring must not be used, however, to gloss over areas of persistent high pollution.
Right to Know. The public has a fundamental right to know about pollution in the air they breathe. We recommend, therefore, that the EPA better maintain data on emissions, and that the agency make available on the World Wide Web, data on both emissions and air pollution levels for entire United States, in a manner consistent with data already available from the Toxics Release Inventory.
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