EPA urged to retain certain PM air-quality standards

The US Environmental Protection Agency should consider retaining certain existing particulate matter (PM) air-quality standards, an American Petroleum Institute spokesman said June 12.

EPA is scheduled to outline its proposal for new PM National Ambient Air Quality Standards (PM NAAQS) on June 7.

Howard Feldman, API director of regulatory and scientific affairs, said the existing PM 2.5 standard should be among standards EPA considers for its proposed particulate standard rule. EPA last revised its PM standards in 2006.

Fine particles are 2.5 µm or less in diameter and can contribute to reduced visibility. Some research has linked exposure to PM 2.5 levels with increased health risks. API said EPA’s analysis shows the 2.5 standard is more protective than previously believed.

“Air quality progress under the current standards, control programs, and industrial initiatives has been substantial,” Feldman said. “According to EPA, between 2000 and 2010, concentrations of PM 2.5 fell by 27%. As a result, more than three fourths of Americans today live in areas where air quality meets today’s standards.”

He warned that more stringent standards could bring additional costs to refineries, manufacturers, and utilities.

Representatives of API, the American Chemistry Council, and the National Association of Manufacturers were among groups that met with the Office of Management and Budget to discuss PM standards, Feldman told reporters during a June 12 conference call from his Washington, DC, office.

Previously, EPA said it needed until August 2013 to update standards but some groups are pushing for an accelerated deadline to December 2012.

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