WAOPS was glad to sign onto a group health letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urging them to finalize stronger annual and 24-hour standards for the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for fine particulate matter pollution (PM2.5).
The letter read as follows:
"Particle pollution poses a dangerous threat to human health. According to the American Lung Association’s 2022 “State of the Air” report, Wisconsin is home to 75,199 children and 467,737 adults with asthma, 244,094 people with COPD, and 321,019 with cardiovascular disease, all of whom could be at greater risk of health harm from particulate matter. The current limits on both short-term spikes and annual levels of particle pollution are currently too weak to protect the health of people in Wisconsin.
The revision of the NAAQS for particulate matter pollution represents an important step toward healthier air. To ensure that the standards are aligned with the current science, the undersigned organizations support a final standard of 8 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3) for annual PM2.5 and 25 μg/m3 for 24-hour PM2.5.
The Clean Air Act requires that the NAAQS be set based solely on what the best available science says is necessary to protect public health with an adequate margin of safety. EPA was correct in reconsidering the PM2.5 standards following the 2020 review. Overwhelming scientific evidence shows that the current standards are inadequate, putting vulnerable populations at risk and further entrenching environmental injustices in exposure.
PM2.5 can increase the risk of heart disease, lung cancer and asthma attacks and can interfere with lung development. Overwhelming evidence shows that both acute and chronic PM2.5 exposures are deadly. For example, a 2016 study of individuals 65 and older in New England found that the risk for premature death occurred even in areas that meet the current level.1 A more health protective standard is needed, especially for individuals most at-risk, including pregnant people, infants, children, seniors, people living with lung and heart conditions, lower-income communities, and communities of color.
As health organizations committed to improving public health and advocating on behalf of the patients and communities we serve, we urge you to follow the science by proposing and finalizing standards of 8 μg/m3 for annual PM2.5 and 25 μg/m3 for 24-hour PM2.5 to ensure healthier air for all."
WAOPS was among other Wisconsin health organizations that signed on to support; American Lung Association in Wisconsin, Wisconsin Allergy Society, Wisconsin Asthma Coalition, Wisconsin Medical Society, Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association.