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‘Future generations’ will benefit as USA moves to limit deadly emissions from vehicles

Interstate 80, seen here in Berkeley, California, is a freeway with many lanes and heavy traffic. Credit: Minesweeper, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia commons.

US President Joe Biden has set out tougher standards over toxic vehicle pollutants that will hopefully prevent thousands of premature deaths – many of whom are children – ever year.

The Biden administration, says reducing ‘fine particle matter’ not only from vehicle exhausts but also industrial chimneys would benefit the whole of society.

Environmental and public health groups, along with children’s health campaigners, have hailed the new rule set out by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which was finalised this week, as a ‘major step’ in improving the health of all America, not least the ‘future generations’.

Yet not everyone is happy with the move, with some industry groups warning it could lead to the loss of jobs in the manufacturing sector and even cause power plants to shut down. The rule is likely to be challenged in court.

Particle or Particulate Matter (PM) describes a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air, and they contain microscopic solids or liquid droplets that are so small that they can be inhaled and cause serious health problems.

‘Especially benefit children’

Some particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter can get deep into your lungs and some may even get into your bloodstream. Of these, particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, also known as fine particles or PM2.5, pose the greatest risk to health, and particularly so to children, with their bodies still developing.

Michael Regan, EPA Administrator, said that the rule would deliver some $46 billion in net health benefits by 2032, including prevention of up to 800,000 asthma attacks and 4,500 premature deaths.

He added that it would ‘especially benefit children, older adults and those with heart and lung conditions, as well as people in low-income and minority communities adversely affected by decades of industrial pollution’.

“Cleaner air means that our children have brighter futures, and people can live more productive and active lives, improving our ability to grow and develop as a nation.

Support for the move came from Moms Clean Air Force, a campaign group which works on local projects across the UK that help reduce air pollution, fight climate change, and improve the health of our children and families.

Moms Clean Air Force

Dominique Browning, Director and Co-Founder of Moms Clean Air Force, said: “Particle pollution is a killer. In the United States alone, it cuts thousands of lives short, taking a staggering toll – children’s bodies are uniquely vulnerable to the harms of soot pollution.

“Moms Clean Air Force commends EPA for taking a significant step forward in strengthening the annual standard for particle pollution, also known as soot, to 9 micrograms per cubic meter from its current level at 12.

“EPA’s new national health standard for particle pollution is the first improvement in over a decade. Soot is associated with increased infant mortality, hospital admissions for heart and lung diseases, cancer, and increased asthma severity. EPA’s finalised protection is an important step towards cleaner, healthier air for all children.”

Click here for more on the announcement.

Author: Simon Weedy

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