EPA Issues Final PM2.5 Guidance to States

EPA published a final rule yesterday containing guidance for states and tribes to implement the 1997 fine particle (PM2.5) national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) under the Clean Air Act. Such are pollutants come from many sources, including power plants, motor vehicles, and industrial sources. Heart and lung diseases are aggravated by them, as is asthma, the agency says.

Air quality designations took effect April 5, 2005, for 39 areas (with a total population of 90 million) that were not attaining the PM2.5 standards, and each state having a nonattainment area must submit by April 5, 2008, an attainment demonstration and adopted regulations to ensure the area will meet the standards "as expeditiously as practicable, but no later than 2015," EPA says. The new rule takes effect May 29.

The EPA's docket for this rule is Docket ID EPA-HQ-OAR-2003-0062; relevant documents are available at www.regulations.gov. Meeting the PM2.5 standards nationwide will prevent tens of thousands of premature deaths each year, along with thousands of hospital admissions and emergency room visits, hundreds of thousands of work and school absences, and hundreds of thousands of respiratory illnesses in children, EPA says.

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