Make Respiratory Health A Federal Priority
10,104 signatures toward our 50,000 Goal
Sponsor: The Rainforest Site
Stronger air quality standards are critical to reducing COVID-19-related deaths.
Americans are suffering because of poor air quality in major cities. The EPA's inaction has led to air suffuse with microscopic particles linked to heart attacks, stroke, asthma, cancer and premature death 1.
Particle pollution can exist in solid, liquid or gas form. Minute particulate matter, also called PM 2.5, can pass directly into the bloodstream from the lungs, leading to serious health conditions. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has linked such pollution to at least 85,000 deaths each year in the U.S. 2.
Meanwhile, deaths from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have topped 100,000 and are still rising in the U.S. Those with compromised respiratory systems, living with COPD, asthma or other conditions exacerbated by poor air quality, face a much higher risk of mortality 3.
In April 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) retained, without changes, the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for particulate matter (PM) including both fine particles (PM2.5) and coarse particles (PM10) set 8 years prior 4.
According to the EPA, this decision was made while considering "the most current available scientific evidence and risk and exposure information, and with consultation and confirmation by the agency?s independent science advisors.?
Periodic reviews of the Clean Air Act are meant to accommodate scientific discovery, leading to updated national standards for pollutants. But this isn't how Wheeler's EPA is running. In fact, in 2018 Wheeler disbanded the 20-person Particulate Matter Review Panel 5, which was designed to advise the EPA on particulate matter science. Wheeler has instead tapped the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Council (CASAC), which contains zero particle pollution scientists, to perform the review.
Working outside the EPA's purview, the members of the Particulate Matter Review Panel convened in October 2019 to issue a report 6 calling for stronger air quality standards, which has been supported by the EPA's own scientists 7. According to the EPA's report, reducing particulate pollution in 30 U.S. cities could prevent up to 12,500 respiratory disease-related deaths yearly.
The EPA has the capacity and the responsibility to protect American lives by setting reasonable air quality standards. During the worst respiratory pandemic many alive today have ever experienced, this is more important than ever.
Sign the petition below and demand that the Clean Air Act is reviewed and strengthened as recommended by air quality scientists, and that penalties are put in place for those who contribute to dangerous particulate pollution.
- Molly Rauch, the Hill (19 May 2020), "Trump's EPA must strengthen standards for deadly particle pollution." Retrieved May 20, 2020.
- Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Viz Hub, graphical data analysis.
- Sharon Begley, Stat (3 March 2020), "Who is getting sick, and how sick? A breakdown of coronavirus risk by demographic factors."  EPA Press Office, United States Environmental Protection Agency (14 April 2020), "EPA Proposes to Retain NAAQS for Particulate Matter."
- Lisa Friedman, New York Times (11 October 2018),"E.P.A. to Disband a Key Scientific Review Panel on Air Pollution."
- Particulate Matter Review Panel (September 2019), "Advice from the Independent Particulate Matter Review Panel (formerly EPA CASAC Particulate Matter Review Panel) on EPA?s Policy Assessment for the Review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter."
- United States Environmental Protection Agency (January 2020), "Policy Assessment for the Review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter."
Dear EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler,
On behalf of the people, communities and families of the United States, I demand you strengthen our country's particle pollution standards as recommended by established scientists in that field.
Particle pollution (PM2.5) is a plague to humans living anywhere. It's been linked to heart attacks, stroke, COPD, asthma, cancer and premature death, and increases the risk of mortality from COVID-19. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation has linked such pollution to at least 85,000 deaths each year in the U.S.
The former members of the Particulate Matter Review Panel, a group which you dismissed in 2018, issued a report calling for stronger air quality standards, which has since been supported by the EPA's own scientists. Their data shows that reducing particulate pollution in 30 U.S. cities could prevent up to 12,500 respiratory disease-related deaths every year.
Periodic reviews of the Clean Air Act are meant to accommodate scientific discovery, leading to updated national standards for pollutants, but that process has been shut down by misguided political bravado. Mr. Wheeler, ignorance will not save the lives of tens of thousands of Americans living in polluted environments. Updating our federal pollution standards in alignment with the recommendations of air quality scientists will.
I call on you to update the Clean Air Act based on the recommendations of air quality scientists, and set penalties for those who contribute to dangerous particulate matter.