Have you ever wondered if soot particles in the air are making your throat sore?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency soon must update national health standards for fine particulate matter, commonly referred to as soot.

Soot is released in to the air from our nation’s hundreds of coal- and oil-fired power plants every single day. According to EPA, soot causes early death, asthma, heart attacks, stroke, heart disease and congestive heart failure and may cause cancer and developmental and reproductive harm.

Currently, EPA limits soot emissions to 15 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3) annually and 35 ug/m3 daily. These limits are not strong enough to protect American families from the harmful effects of soot emissions.

Because EPA is required by law to protect public health with an adequate margin of safety, the American Lung Association recommends the agency strengthen the national standard for fine particulate matter to an annual standard of 11 ug/m3 coupled with a daily standard of 25 ug/m3.

The lung association predicts these recommended standards could prevent as many as 35,700 premature deaths every year and reduce costs associated with premature death and disease by as much as $281 billion every year.

Maine has the highest rate of childhood asthma in the country because we are downwind of hundreds of polluting power plants. Stronger soot emission standards will help Maine children breathe easier. I urge EPA to implement the strongest possible limits on emissions of soot, to prevent illness, tens of thousands of hospital visits and millions of days of lost productivity.

Bets Brown


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