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EPA’s New Soot Pollution Standard Will Save Thousands of Lives

Feb 20, 2024 | Blog

By Tiffany Hartung, Chief Strategy Officer

Earlier this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its final standard updating the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Particulate Matter (PM 2.5), also known as soot pollution. This is a huge step forward for public health – the new soot pollution standard is expected to save an estimated 4,500 lives and deliver $46 billion in health benefits in 2032!

Soot is a dangerous and deadly pollutant produced by power plants, tailpipes on cars and trucks, and industrial sources. It threatens public health and the environment. Soot poses a particular risk for children, seniors, and people with chronic illnesses. The burden of soot pollution is highly inequitable falling especially to low-wealth communities and communities of color that are already overburdened with pollution. 

The Interfaith Power & Light network celebrated this announcement as a critical advancement that will improve air quality from coast to coast and start to address historic inequities and injustices, including cleaning up the air in communities of color, fenceline communities, and lower-wealth areas already overburdened by pollution. 

As people of faith and conscience, our moral values call us to be good stewards of our Sacred Earth and ensure everyone is cared for. With this new standard, EPA has made progress toward environmental justice and public health goals that will clean up our air and save lives. 

Thank you to all the IPL affiliates, faith leaders, and people of faith and conscience who advocated for updated soot protections. You submitted thousands of public comments online to EPA, testified in virtual EPA public hearings, and added your names to a faith leader letter to EPA!

IPL’s Federal Policy Manager, Madison Mayhew, and Sisters of Mercy Justice Coordinator, Marianne Comfort, delivering the faith leader soot letter to EPA officials last year.

With this update, EPA is tightening the standard for soot pollution from a level of 12 micrograms per cubic meter to 9 micrograms per cubic meter. This means, in 2032:

This will have a meaningful impact on reducing pollution in communities around the country. Thank you, EPA, for taking this important step in protecting our air, advancing environmental justice, and protecting public health!

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