Jan 6, 2023
Washington, D.C. - Today, the EPA released their proposal for strengthening the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for fine particulate matter pollution (PM2.5), also known as soot.
The proposed standards, which come after a year of regulatory delay, will have tangible impacts on the health of every single person across the country, especially for the Latine community. Nationwide, Latine children are more likely to have asthma – a condition exacerbated by the inhalation of PM2.5 – and those with asthma are almost twice as likely to die from an asthma attack than non-Latine children. The proposal includes reducing the annual air quality standard from 12 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3) to 9 or 10 μg/m3 rather than the 8 μg/m3 environmental justice organizations demanded and does not include a stronger 24-hour standard.
GreenLatinos urges the EPA to go farther and set the NAAQS for soot pollution to no higher than 8 μg/m3 for the annual standard and no higher than 25 μg/m3 for the 24-hour standard. Anything less goes against the scientific body of evidence recommended by EPA’s independent expert panel and will lead to tens of thousands of premature deaths, emergency room visits, and days of work lost which are all disproportionately felt in the livelihoods and well beings of Latine communities.
People living in majority Latine neighborhoods are dangerously exposed to higher soot pollution levels than those living in majority white neighborhoods. This means Latines disproportionately experience soot pollution-related illnesses such as impaired lung function, childhood asthma, and cardiovascular diseases. These dangerous health outcomes are avoidable if the EPA makes the standards as health protective as possible.
“Latine communities, in all residential settings, across all incomes, bear the brunt of dirty air in this country. While the EPA proposing a stronger annual standard is a step forward, it simply is not health protective enough for the most vulnerable in our communities,” said Irene Burga, GreenLatinos Climate Justice and Clean Air Program Director.
GreenLatinos will be reviewing the proposal in the coming days and mobilizing our network of Latine activists and advocates across the country in EPA’s public comment process. We will be doing everything we can to keep our communities safe and healthy and urge the EPA to follow the science and heed the cries of our most impacted communities by strengthening the soot standard.
GreenLatinos is an active comunidad of Latino/a/x leaders, emboldened by the power and wisdom of our culture, united to demand equity and dismantle racism, resourced to win our environmental, conservation, and climate justice battles, and driven to secure our political, economic, cultural, and environmental liberation