By Richard Romano
Published: June 19, 2012
The annual standards for particulate matter, or microscopic particles released from automobile exhausts, power plants or factories, would be set from 12 to 13 micrograms per cubic meter under a proposed rule the EPA released today. The current standard is 15 micrograms per cubic meter. The agency said it would issue the final rule by Dec. 14.Actually it turns out that most U.S. counties (99% of them) don’t really have to do anything except comply with current clean-air rules, last updated in 2006. Adds the Chicago Tribune:
Soot, made up of microscopic particles released from smokestacks, diesel trucks and buses, wood-burning stoves and other sources, contributes to haze and can burrow into lungs. Breathing in soot can cause lung and heart problems. Dr. Albert Rizzo, chairman of the board of the American Lung Association, said soot, also known as fine particle pollution, is a known killer. "The science is clear, and overwhelming evidence shows that particle pollution at levels currently labeled as officially 'safe' causes heart attacks, strokes and asthma attacks," he said. Eleven states, including New York and California, filed suit earlier this year to force a decision. The states and the American Lung Association say current standards jeopardize public health. Soot has been linked to thousands of premature deaths each year, as well as aggravation of respiratory illnesses, heart attacks and strokes.So there are projected savings in health care costs which more than compensate for the costs of compliance. Per Bloomberg:
Depending on the final level of the standard, the EPA estimates a net economic benefit to the U.S. as the savings from lower medical costs and fewer deaths outstrip the expense to industry. Every dollar invested in pollution-control equipment could yield $30 to $86 in benefits, the agency said. Net annual benefit would be $88 million to $5.9 billion, according to EPA. Projected costs range from $2.9 million to $69 million a year, according to the EPA.