EPA Reinstates Panel to Address Air Pollution

In the U.S., about 100,000 deaths occur each year due to exposure to ambient air pollution – before the COVID-19 pandemic, this represented about 1 in 25 deaths. Air pollution is a ruthless killer that can even harm the development of babies while they’re still in the womb.

That’s why it was important that the Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that it would roll back another destructive Trump-era air pollution policy. As Courthouse News reported, in December 2020, the Trump administration chose to leave the 2012 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) in place, despite scientific evidence which said the standards allowed deadly levels of pollution. 

The EPA will now also reconvene a specialized panel that helps review research on air pollution to allow the agency to best protect human health.

Why This Matters: Dr. Gretchen T. Goldman, research director for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists said it best:

Fine particulate matter is one of the most common, and most harmful ambient air pollutants. In recent years, the science increasingly shows the clear health risks of PM 2.5—and its disproportionate impact on communities of color and low-income communities. The EPA should be following the science showing the need for stronger PM standards to protect public health, especially for sensitive populations.”

The Need for Action: The Trump administration refused to take action on strengthening particulate matter pollution standards despite the risk to public health this pollutant poses.

In addition to direct health risks, air pollution is costing the economy significantly. A recent report from the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) shows that air pollution and climate change cost each American an average of $2,500 per year in health care costs.

Cities like San Francisco are voting to fight pollution from heavy industries but federal standards ground in sound science are also needed to ensure all Americans are able to breathe clean air.

As scientist H. Christopher Frey–who was a member of the panel reinstated by the EPA that was disbanded by Trump–explained,

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