EPA finalizes air quality standards for PM2.5

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized an update to its national air quality standards for fine particle pollution (PM2.5), including soot, setting the annual health standard at 12 micrograms per cubic meter. The EPA projects that by 2020, 99 percent of U.S. counties are projected to meet revised health standard without any additional actions.

Today’s announcement has no effect on the existing daily standard for fine particles or the existing daily standard for coarse particles (PM10, which includes dust from farms and other sources), both of which remain unchanged.

The EPA says that fewer than 10 counties in the U.S. will need to consider any local actions to reduce fine particle pollution in order to meet the new standard by 2020, as required by the Clean Air Act. The remaining counties can rely on air quality improvements from federal rules already on the books to meet this new standard.

EPA was required by a federal court to issue the final standard by Dec. 14, because the agency did not meet its five-year legal deadline for reviewing the standards.

Click here for more information on the finalized standard.

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