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AG Nessel Joins Coalition Urging EPA to Adopt Strict Standards to Protect the Public Against Particulate Matter Pollution

LANSING — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined a California-led multistate coalition in submitting a comment letter urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to adopt more protective standards under the Clean Air Act that protect public health against particulate matter (PM) pollution. These standards, known as the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, are critical to Michigan’s efforts to improve air quality and the health of residents. Particulate matter is a pollutant emitted from a variety of sources, including vehicles, factories, and construction sites. Also referred to as soot, PM is a mixture of microscopic solids and liquid droplets suspended in the air that can cause serious health problems. In the comment letter, AG Nessel calls for more protective federal standards for PM pollution to ensure healthier levels of air quality for state residents.  

“Particulate matter is an environmental health risk factor in the United States that contributes to 85,000 to 200,000 U.S. deaths per year,” Nessel said. “Additionally, the environmental justice concerns related to severe health impacts from particle pollution exposure in sensitive communities makes the time right to adopt more protective National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particulate matter. I proudly join my colleagues in asking the EPA to respond to the most recent scientific evidence by updating these standards to better protect the health of our communities.”  

Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is required to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards for several pollutants, including PM, at a level that protects public health and welfare. Once the National Ambient Air Quality Standards are set, states are tasked with implementing those standards. The EPA has now proposed new PM National Ambient Air Quality Standards to replace standards originally issued many years ago — and which the Trump Administration refused to lower despite overwhelming evidence that certain standards failed to protect the public health and welfare as required by the Clean Air Act. In 2021, a California-led multistate coalition sued the Trump Administration over its refusal to update the PM National Ambient Air Quality Standards and has since successfully petitioned the EPA to reconsider that decision.  

Exposure to PM can causes significant health impacts, including increased rates of heart disease, serious respiratory impacts, and increased death rates. In particular, smaller PM particles are easily inhalable and therefore pose the greatest risk to health. Both long-term and short-term exposure to such particles has been shown to cause extremely harmful health impacts. Long-term exposure, such as that experienced by people living for many years in areas with high PM levels, has been associated with premature death, reduced lung function, and the development of chronic bronchitis. Short-term exposure to particles — for hours or days — can aggravate lung disease, causing asthma attacks, acute bronchitis, and increased susceptibility to respiratory infections. Children, the elderly, and people with preexisting heart and lung disease are the most susceptible to PM exposure.  

In the comment letter, the coalition urges the EPA to take long-necessary action and adopt more protective standards for particulate matter pollution to protect human health in all communities, including sensitive populations.  

In filing the comment letter, AG Nessel joins the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and the City of New York.  


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