HomeWashington Letter2024 ▶ EPA Finalizes More Protective Particulate Matter Pollution Standard
EPA Finalizes More Protective Particulate Matter Pollution Standard

This week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule to reduce particulate matter (PM) air pollution. The final rule lowers that annual particulate matter standard from 12 ug/m3 to 9 ug/m3. The EPA has retained the current daily PM standard of 35 ug/m3.   

PM pollution, or soot, is a dangerous form of air pollution. Exposure to particulate matter is harmful for everyone, but it is especially dangerous for persons with underlying respiratory and cardiovascular disease. Particle pollution is well-known to cause asthma and COPD exacerbations, heart attacks, hospitalizations, and death. The science is clear, the previous EPA PM standard was not protective of public health.   

"A more protective annual standard will save lives, reduce asthma and COPD exacerbations and improve the quality of air for everyone," says Alison Lee, MD, chair of the ATS Environmental Health Policy Committee. "While I am disappointed that EPA did not go further to address the daily PM standard, today's action by EPA is important progress and will bring cleaner air to communities across the U.S."     

In addition to a more protective annual PM standard, EPA also issued new threshold levels for the air quality index - changing the pollution levels needed to trigger some air quality alerts. "The new cut points for the air quality index are a step towards improved communication regarding the risks of particle pollution exposure, particularly for those most susceptible to the harms of air pollution such as those with chronic respiratory disease and children," says Franziska Rosser, MD, MPH - member of the ATS Environmental Health Policy Committee. 
Last Reviewed: February 2024