The Trump administration has declined an appeal to tighten regulations for soot pollution despite studies saying that doing so could save thousands of lives each year.
These particles come from the burning of coal, oil and wood. They penetrate the respiratory system and are heavily linked with diseases related to the heart and lungs and also pose risks to those with asthma, according to The Guardian.
The current standard that was set in 2012 (which seems like a lifetime ago) allows polluters to emit 12 micro-grams of soot per cubic meter. Tightening the standards to 11 micro-grams could save about 12,000 lives a year, says one Harvard study of US seniors.
If the soot standards doesn’t drop and proceeds to remain the same, it could allow as many as 52,000 deaths a year in just 47 urban areas.
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is offering to freeze the current standards. The move comes as professionals warn the Covid-19 pandemic is unequally devastating communities that are vulnerable and burdened by pollution.
EPA are also maintaining its current standard for coarse particle pollution.
Furthermore, Andrew Wheeler – the administrator of the EPA – on a call with reporters highlighted a number of uncertainties were identified with the science. Based on those he said, “the current standard remains protective and does not need to be changed.”
“The administration’s effort to rush this action, without considering public input, is just the latest in a long line of attempts to ignore and undermine the science-based assessment required when [the government] establishes national standards.” Defense Fund said.
Every five years the US government is obligated to review and consider new science in evaluating whether air pollution rules are strong enough.
Questions have been raised by career staff working for the EPA whether the soot standard is in fact protective enough. Subsequently, conflicting with the independent panel.
Credit: Emily Holden – The Guardian