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Particulate Air Pollution

Human Mortality, Pollution Sources, and the Case for Tougher Clean Air Standards

January 9, 1997

Particulate Air Pollution: Establish More Stringent Standards

The proposed PM2.5 standard for particulate matter 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, it must be strengthened substantially. By the EPA's own calculations, the proposed particulate rule would reduce premature mortality from airborne particulates by 50 percent, while tens of thousands of premature deaths will continue even after the proposed health standards are met. Similarly, the proposed ozone standard must also be strengthened.

To better protect public health, the Environmental Working Group supports an annual average PM2.5 standard of 10 µg/m3. To guard against the adverse health effects of peak particulate exposures, we recommend a 24-hour PM2.5 standard of 18µg/m3. In addition, we support a stricter eight-hour ozone standard of 0.07 ppm. These goals will provide dramatic health benefits when achieved, and puts the agency more squarely in compliance with the basic requirements and intent of the law.