On Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new air quality standards to lower the amount of soot allowed from diesel trucks, buses, power plants and other sources.
The long-delayed rule responds to a court order that required the Obama administration to update air quality standards under the Clean Air Act.
According to the agency, the proposal would tighten the health standard for harmful fine particulate pollution (PM2.5) from 15 micrograms per cubic meter to between 13 and 12 micrograms. The changes come on the advice of the agency's independent scientific advisors and area based on evidence showing that exposure to soot causes negative health impacts at levels lower than previously understood.
Eleven states, including New York and California, filed suit earlier this year to force a decision. The states and the American Lung Association say current standards jeopardize public health. Soot has been linked to thousands of premature deaths each year, as well as aggravation of respiratory illnesses, heart attacks and strokes.
For more information about soot and the EPA's new standards, visit: http://www.epa.gov/pm/