Soot standards get tougher

EPA to finalize new fine-particulate pollutant guidelines by mid-December

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will finalize more stringent soot standards by mid-December, a move that could save thousands of American lives each year.

The EPA has proposed decreasing annual exposure to fine-particulate soot from 15 to between 12 and 13 micrograms per cubic meter of air, according to The Washington Post. The guidelines would force polluting counties like Riverside and San Bernardino—projected to be two of six counties in the United States that will not meet standards by 2020—to cut down on pollution or risk losing federal funding. Paul Cort, an Earthjustice attorney who represented the American Lung Association and the National Parks Conservation Association in a lawsuit forcing the EPA to issue the rule, vowed to fight for even tighter standards.

Cort estimated reducing exposure to 13 micrograms per cubic meter would save 8,000 lives a year, but reducing the concentration to 11 micrograms would avoid 27,000 deaths.