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EPA hopes to lower soot pollution with new round of clean air standards

EPA hopes to lower soot pollution with new round of clean air standards
EPA hopes to lower soot pollution with new round of clean air standards

The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that, pursuant to a court order, it had completed an update to the current national air quality standards for harmful fine particle pollution, which includes soot.

The annual health standard has now been set at 12 micrograms per cubic meter, and the agency predicted that by 2020, about 99 percent of counties around the country will have put the right EPA maintenance compliance measures in place. EPA made sure to clarify that the update does not have an effect on the current daily standard that has been established for fine or coarse particles. These include different types of dust, such as farm particle and similar matter.

"These standards are fulfilling the promise of the Clean Air Act. We will save lives and reduce the burden of illness in our communities, and families across the country will benefit from the simple fact of being able to breathe cleaner air," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.

The standard was updated to protect workers from the detriments of working near fine particles, which can make their way deep into the lungs and potentially cause a number of adverse health effects, including premature death, heart attacks and strokes.

Shortly after announcing the update, EPA released its 2012 enforcement information, which details how well EPA enforcement has worked in bringing down levels of pollution around the country. According to the release, this year, there has been a reduction of 2.2 billion pounds of air, water and land pollution, as well as 4.4 billion pounds of hazardous waste. Enforcement led to $252 million in civil and criminal penalties.

"Enforcement plays a vital role in protecting communities from harmful pollution," said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "We are using vigorous enforcement, as well as innovations in monitoring and transparency, to reduce pollution violations, protect and empower communities and focus on the environmental problems that matter most."

Having the right documentation readily available can significantly lower the time and costs that are associated with EPA inspections.

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