WASHINGTON (CN) – The Environmental Protection Agency proposed stricter National Ambient Air Quality Standards for the annual average amount of fine particles suspended in the air to between 12-13 micrograms per cubic meter.
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In 2006, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals remanded proposed EPA fine particulate matter standards, finding that it had failed to adequately explain why the standards would protect at-risk populations including children.
In the six years since the remand, the EPA has gone over its studies, fleshed out its arguments and developed new proposals through an extensive public comment process.
The agency said the change would provide increased protection for at risk populations against an array of illness caused or exacerbated by exposure to small particulate matter including development of chronic respiratory disease.
The EPA also proposes to eliminate a procedure called spatial averaging, which blends all of the particulate matter data from a designated area. The agency said this method allowed high exposure to particulate matter to persist in some areas.
All of testing stations in an attainment area must meet the minimum standards to be considered compliant with national ambient air quality standards.
If an attainment area is found to be noncompliant state’s are required to develop and implement a plan to bring the air quality to within standards or face imposition of a federally plan.
The public has until August 31 to comment on the proposed revisions.