WASHINGTON – The Biden administration on Friday proposed tightening limits on fine particulate matter, a deadly air pollutant also known as soot.

It will be the first time in more than a decade that the federal government will crack down on the contaminant responsible for thousands of premature deaths each year.

Fine particles are released from smoke stacks, construction, trucks, power plants and other industrial activities. Its diameter does not exceed 2.5 micrometers, which is one-thirtieth the width of a human hair, and can enter the lungs. It has been linked to heart attacks, strokes and respiratory diseases.

The draft rule by the Environmental Protection Agency would tighten the current limit, which has been up to 25 percent since 2012. The administration estimates that this could prevent 4,200 premature deaths annually, as well as 270,000 missed workdays per year, and result in up to $43 billion in total health and economic benefits by 2032.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan said the new rule was central to the Biden administration’s effort to address environmental justice. Poor and minority communities are disproportionately exposed to soot and other air pollution because they are often located near highways, power plants, and other industrial facilities.

“Our work to deliver clean, breathable air for all is a top priority at EPA, and this proposal will help ensure that all communities, especially the most vulnerable among us, are protected from the risk of harmful pollution,” Mr. Regan said in a statement during a telephone call with reporters.

a 2018 study by EPA scientistsPublished in the American Journal of Public Health, found that black communities were at greater risk of health problems from exposure to industrial soot than the general population.

“No one should be sick from the environment they live in,” said Dr. Doris Brown, former president of the National, and EPA’s proposal marks the beginning of changes that will have a lasting impact on communities, especially black and on brown communities.” Medical Association, the nation’s largest organization representing black physicians.

The Clean Air Act requires that the federal government review the science associated with particulate matter every five years and adjust limits accordingly. But the Trump administration declined to do so in 2020, despite recommendations and research from the agency’s own scientists showing that tightening pollution limits could save thousands of lives a year. The last time they were clamped in 2012.

Laura Bender, assistant vice president of the American Lung Association, said, “The fact that the previous administration missed the opportunity to strengthen these standards meant that in the interim we saw people suffer the health effects of these standards.” , which should have been tightened.”

Business groups say the new rule will hurt an economy already reeling from inflation.

Chad Whiteman, vice president of environmental and regulatory affairs for the US Chamber of Commerce Global Energy, said, “While it is important to continue to make progress, further lowering of particulate matter standards could have unintended consequences and damage badly needed infrastructure. may hinder our ability to create.” Institute. “In an era of high inflation and supply chain disruptions, America cannot afford any more disruptions to our economy.”

EPA’s cost-benefit analysis of its proposed rule concluded that it would cost the industry between $95 million and $390 million by 2032. At the same time in the range of $8 billion to $43 billion.

The draft rule proposes to reduce the particulate matter standard from the limit of 12 micrograms per cubic meter to 9 and 10 micrograms per cubic meter. EPA will accept public comments on the proposed rule for 60 days. Agency officials said that, based on those comments, they may still tighten or loosen the initial proposal before it is finalized, possibly later this year.

The proposed rule is the latest in a series of actions by the Biden administration to restore and expand environmental protections that President Donald J. was withdrawn, weakened or ignored under Trump. After the November midterms, Mr. Biden now faces two years of a divided Congress, with few possibilities for significant legislation over the next two years. He leaves him to bow to the power of his executive authority.

In 2021, the EPA reinstates Obama-era rules on climate-warming auto pollution that were rolled back under Mr. Trump, and is expected to further tighten those rules later this year. Also this year, agency officials plan to complete a new regulation on leaking methane, a potent planet-warming gas that seeps from oil and gas wells, and, following Trump, on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Planning to make a new rule to rein in. The administration had weakened and rolled back regulations on those pollutants.

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