On February 7, 2024, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced tighter regulations for National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Particulate Matter (PM 2.5), also known as soot pollution. In response to this air pollution standard update. In response, Maite Arce, president and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation, released the following statement:
“We applaud the administration for taking action and strengthening its standards to reduce soot pollution and improve air quality. Soot is a dangerous and deadly pollutant produced by power plants, vehicle tailpipes, and other industrial sources, and it threatens our health and environment, posing particular risks for children, seniors, communities of color, and people with chronic illnesses, causing devastating health impacts including premature death, heart disease, aggravated asthma, decreased lung function, and difficulty breathing.
According to the American Lung Association, 63 million Americans experience unhealthy spikes in daily soot or particle pollution, and more than 20 million Americans experience dangerous levels of soot pollution on a year-round basis. For decades, soot pollution has severely burdened Latino communities endangering their health. Latino communities have long and disproportionately suffered the consequences of environmental policies that inflicted stark, consistent disparities in soot exposure between white Americans and Latinos across the country.
This updated soot pollution standard will improve air quality and start to address historic inequities and injustices. By issuing this stronger soot pollution standard, the Biden administration is taking an important step forward to clean up our air. Communities of color deserve the same clean air as everyone else, and it is up to President Biden to enact solutions that will slash soot pollution and protect our health.”
Soot pollution standards had not been updated since 2012. By reducing soot pollution, we improve air quality and contribute to the broader effort of combating climate change, which is crucial as climate change presents a multifaceted threat to public health, exacerbating extreme weather events, intensifying heat waves, and rising sea levels.