New Soot EPA Standard Will Save Lives

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 14, 2012
Contact: Russell Zerbo, 215-567-4004, ext. 103
New Soot Standard Will Save Lives                                                                        
Clean Air Council Applauds New Standards That Will Protect Public Health, Help Slow Climate Change
Philadelphia, PA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a new soot air quality standard this afternoon that will save Americans $86 dollars in healthcare costs for every $1 dollar that fossil fuel companies will be required to spend to limit emissions.
Soot is particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, about one thirtieth the diameter of a human hair. Since 1997, the soot standard has remained stagnant at 15 micrograms per cubic meter. Thankfully, this afternoon the EPA lowered the standard to 12 micrograms. The EPA estimates that this will save at least $4 billion annually in healthcare costs.
The Clean Air Council, an environmental organization headquartered in Philadelphia, visited the Christmas Village in Love Park to educate the public about soot pollution and garner praise for EPA’s action. At the Christmas Village, Council staffers and volunteers collected 300 signatures from Philadelphians thankful for the EPA’s efforts to lower soot emissions.
“Even though it took a lawsuit to get this rule proposed, it’s still a great holiday gift, particularly for the health of Pennsylvania and its environment,” said Council Executive Director Joseph Otis Minott Esq. “It’s easy to forget soot’s impact on global warming. Since black particles in the atmosphere magnify heat, reducing soot pollution will have an immediate effect on climate change.”
The new soot standard will lower risks of heart attack, stroke, bronchitis and asthma. Nationally, one in ten children in America has asthma. In Philadelphia, this number is one in four, and in particularly polluted neighborhoods in North Philadelphia, this number can rise to one in two children.
“I have cataracts and I found out that it can be caused by soot and dust. And when you breathe in those things, they go straight to your heart. These standards are good for everyone. This is good for the future of our grandchildren because this will affect their health,” said Jackie Saier, a community health advocate from the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia.
“The Clean Air Council led the charge to educate the public and mobilize them to take action when the EPA was accepting testimony for this rule at a public hearing in Philadelphia this past July. It’s great to see this hard work pay off,” Minott added.
Clean Air Council is a member-supported environmental organization serving the Mid-Atlantic Region. The Council is dedicated to protecting and defending everyone’s right to breathe clean air. The Council works through a broad array of related sustainability and public health initiatives, using public education, community action, government oversight, and enforcement of environmental laws.