I am writing to echo the need for stronger air pollution standards expressed in a letter, “Stronger standards urged for fine particle matter,” printed on Aug. 9 in this paper.

Small particulate matter, commonly referred to as soot, is a dangerous air pollutant that is released into the air every day from the nation’s hundreds of coal- and oil-fired power plants.

The evidence from more than 2,000 peer-reviewed studies demonstrates that soot pollution contributes to instances of asthma, heart attacks, strokes and heart disease. It also may cause cancer and developmental and reproductive harm.

Soot pollution is one of the reasons Maine, as the “tailpipe” of the nation, has the highest rate of childhood asthma in the country. Children and the elderly are most vulnerable to the effects of toxic air pollution. We likely all know someone who suffers with respiratory ailments.

We need to take action now to limit soot emissions to protect our families and neighbors.

Current limits on soot under the Clean Air Act are not strong enough and should be increased. As recommended in the Aug. 9 letter, the EPA should strengthen the national standard for soot to an annual standard of 11 micrograms coupled with a daily standard of 25 micrograms.

According to the American Lung Association, this standard could prevent as many as 35,700 premature deaths every year.

This strong standard on soot also will prevent 1.4 million cases of aggravated asthma, 2,350 heart attacks, 29,800 cases of acute bronchitis and 2.7 million days of missed work or school because of air pollution-caused ailments.

I urge the EPA to strengthen emission standards for soot so that Mainers can breathe a bit easier.

Linda Stanton


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