Fine particles, also called soot, can enter the lungs and have major negative health impacts, leading to asthma attacks, heart attacks and early death, according to a Jan. 6 news release. The EPA's proposal will focus on adjusting the primary PM2.5 standard from 12 micrograms per cubic meter to 1-10 micrograms per cubic meter, reflecting modern health data and scientific evidence.
“Our work to deliver clean, breathable air for everyone is a top priority at EPA, and this proposal will help ensure that all communities, especially the most vulnerable among us, are protected from exposure to harmful pollution,” EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said in the release. “This proposal to deliver stronger health protections against particulate matter is grounded in the best available science, advancing the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to scientific integrity and a rigorous scientific process.”
According to the release, the particles are often released from sources such as construction sites, unpaved roads, smokestacks or fires. Additionally, other particles form in the atmosphere resulting from chemical reactions such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, which are emitted from power plants, industrial facilities and vehicles.
“As a physician who’s passionate about oncology and dedicated to enhancing the health equity that’s so often needed in Black communities and other communities of color, I am grateful for the Biden administration’s commitment to advancing equity and justice for all,” former National Medical Association President Dr. Doris Browne said in the release. “No one should be sickened by the environment they live in, and EPA’s proposal marks the start of changes that will have lasting impacts in communities all over, especially Black and brown communities that often experience increased PM pollution.
"Harmful air pollution can have lasting and devastating impacts on people’s health, but by strengthening air quality standards, we can ensure healthier, more sustainable communities across this country,” Browne added, according to the release.