Last Monday, the EPA or US Environmental Protection Agency finalized its decision for setting limits on the amount of a certain type of air pollutant known as fine particulate matter or PM2.5.
This limit, which is previously set, will now remain officially unchanged, despite the scientific research findings which say that more stringent limits or standards need to be imposed for it to save the lives of citizens by the tens of thousands each year.
The decision was met by various scientists and environmental organizations with widespread condemnation.
This is yet another policy to add to the many decisions of officials that favored businesses instead of heeding scientific advice on many of the proposed and existing environmental and health protection measures put forward by environmentalists and scientists.
(Photo : Getty images )
An aerial view shows MacArthur Park and downtown in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, on April 15, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data from March shows that Los Angeles had its longest stretch of air quality rated as “good” since 1995 as Safer-at-Home orders were issued in response to the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Favored by officials
Meanwhile, in West Virginia, which is known as one of the major coal states, local officials favored the EPA’s announcement. The EPA announcement was made by Andrew Wheeler, the administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency. He was also a lobbyist for the coal industry before being involved in the EPA.
Scientists have called for more stringent standards for air quality, but according to the senior deputy attorney general of West Virginia Douglas Buffington, these tight limits will serve as a heavy blow against the industry of coal mining.
According to Wheeler’s announcement, the EPA decides to leave unchanged the previous limits set for the so-called and broadly termed PM2.5 or fine particulate matter. These are the small particles of soot that we get to inhale from the exhausts of vehicles’ tailpipes, from wildfires, from the smokestacks of various plants and factories, and from other similar sources which burn fossil fuels such as coal.
Health effects of fine particulate matter
According to EPA scientists, the estimated exposure to and pollution from particulate matter with the currently imposed government limits are the cause of early mortalities of the American people numbering to the tens of thousands each year. The pollutant causes lung cancer and heart disease, among many other health problems. Exposure causes other myriad health issues as well.
According to senior lawyer for the advocacy group Center for Biological Diversity Robert Ukeiley, these officials have a callous disregard for people’s lives as well as vulnerable wildlife, only because they want to cater to the largest fossil fuel polluters in the country and save them some money. He says the move of the EPA is “sickening.”
According to Wheeler when he made the announcement last Monday, the particulate matter levels in the US are much better than the worldwide average, effectively saying that there is nothing to worry about regarding this deadly and invisible air pollutant.
Meanwhile, environmental organizations have promised to challenge the decision legally. Last Monday’s announcement makes the earlier decision also made by Wheeler to be official. This controversial decision is part of the required five-year review regarding the limits of pollutants mandated by the Clean Air Act.
This decision by the EPA regarding the air pollutant known as PM2.5 or fine particulate matter is now official policy.
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