Attorney General Becerra Leads Multistate Comment Letter to Protect Public Health from Particulate Matter Pollution
SACRAMENTO – Attorney General Becerra led a multistate coalition in filing comments on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Draft Policy Assessment regarding National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Particulate Matter. Particulate Matter is a pollutant emitted from a variety of sources including vehicles, factories, and construction sites. Particulates are linked to many serious public health problems including premature mortality, cardiovascular disease, respiratory impacts, and cancer. In the comment letter, the attorneys general urge the EPA to consider and thoroughly evaluate the current science on Particulate Matter emissions, exposure, and health effects and engage in a transparent process when deciding whether to revise the current air quality standards.
“Our message to the EPA is simple: follow the science. Changes to our air quality standards must benefit public health—not for-profit polluters,” said Attorney General Becerra. “In California, disproportionately impacted communities from the South Coast to the San Joaquin Valley unjustly bear the brunt of this harmful pollution. We’re fighting for more stringent standards so that all Californians, no matter their zip code, have clean air to breathe.”
In the comment letter, the attorneys general fault EPA for attempting to rush through the scientific process of reviewing the dangers from Particulate Matter exposure without essential input from the scientific community. Instead, the state coalition reminds EPA that the decision to revise current air quality standards should be transparent, based on current science, and in service of the public health. The attorneys general note EPA’s long-standing conclusion that exposure to fine Particulate Matter, known as PM2.5, is linked to serious negative health outcomes. EPA’s current standards have reduced annual concentrations of PM2.5 by 39 percent between 2000 and 2018. However, Particulate Matter exposure, even under the current standards, continues to present significant health and welfare risks. Therefore, the coalition argues that EPA must remedy errors that are undermining the scientific integrity and transparency of the review process and that any revisions to the Particulate Matter air quality standards should maximize benefits to the public health. The stakes are high: according to the California Air Resources Board, exposure to man-made PM2.5 emissions is responsible for 7,200 excess premature deaths, 1,900 excess hospitalizations, and 5,200 excess emergency room visits.
Joining Attorney General Becerra in filing the comments are the attorneys general of Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island.