Thursday, May 12, 2005

Outside scientists to EPA: set stricter fine particle standards

Another milestone in EPA’s ongoing review of whether the current national air quality standards for fine particle matter (PM 2.5) are adequate.

EPA’s outside science advisors have drafted a letter urging the agency to move ahead with tougher standards. The letter summarizes comments of a little-reported meeting the panel held in North Carolina in April.

This is a significant development. The panel includes scientists with diverse backgrounds – even some with industry affiliations.

The health case for setting tougher fine-particle standards is so compelling that even a panel including industry scientists supports stricter standards. EPA Administrator Steve Johnson is scheduled to propose a decision later this year. Expect the coal, electric power, automobile and diesel engine and manufacturing lobbies to fight tooth and nail against tougher standards.

Below is the link to the draft letter from EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), charged with reviewing the science of fine particle pollution and making recommendations to EPA on whether the current standards should be retained or changed.

In a draft letter, the CASAC panel supports the view of EPA staff scientists that the current standards should be made tougher:

Key excerpts:

“A majority of the members of the Panel were in agreement with the following: The primary PM2.5, 24-hour and annual PM standards should be modified to provide increased public health protection…page 2]

“Of the options presented by EPA for lowering the level of the PM standard, based on the above considerations and the predicted reductions in health impacts derived from the risk analyses, most Panel members favored the option of setting a 24-hour PM2.5 standard at concentrations in the range of 35 to 30 μg/m3, in concert with an annual standard in the range of 14 to 13 μg/m3.”[page 8]

By comparison, the current standards are: 24-hour=65; annual=15

The panel will review the letter in a teleconference meeting on May 18:

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