Post Number: 355
|Posted on Friday, June 21, 2002 - 10:53 am: |
California may make micro-pollution standards world's strictest
By Andrew Bridges, Associated Press
Thursday, June 20, 2002
LOS ANGELES — The California Air Resources Board will consider making the state's air quality standards for microscopic pollutants the world's strictest.
But it could be at least a decade before technology allows those standards to be met.
Revisions to be considered Thursday concern a class of pollutants made up of particles of soot and dust one-seventh the diameter of a human hair or smaller. The material comes from a variety of sources, including combustion in cars and power plants, and can contain heavy metals that contribute to lung, heart, and other health problems.
In recent years, studies have linked the particles to the deaths of thousands of Californians. "You probably get the biggest dose from the vehicle in front of you (in traffic)," said board spokesman Jerry Martin. "In most vehicles, filtering systems are not equipped to handle particles this small."
The board estimates that 99 percent of Californians are exposed to air that on an average daily basis exceeds current health standards for particles that are smaller than 10 microns in diameter, or PM10.
If adopted, the revised standards would be even stronger than those set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. However, the revised standards lack the penalties contained in federal law. "They are the state's definition of what healthy air is, and as such we will work to attain them," Martin said.
Bonnie Holmes-Gen, a lobbyist for the American Lung Association of California, said PM10 standards have not been reviewed for 20 years. "Since then, there have been hundreds of new studies on premature mortality, emergency room visits, school absences, and other health impacts related to elevated particle levels in the air," Holmes-Gen said.
Last month, the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C., advocacy organization, estimated that particulate pollution kills 9,300 Californians a year.
The Air Resources Board estimated that 2,431 tons of the tiny particles were emitted every day in California in 2001. Sources include farms, construction sites, and wildfires. Dust from roads is the largest contributor and can contain tiny pieces of brakes and tires.
At its meeting in El Monte, the board will consider lowering the annual average standard to 20 micrograms per cubic meter of air from the current 30.
Cass Andary, director of regulatory programs for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said the Southfield, Mich., group opposes the new standards. "Any time you have an ambient air quality standard, which in this case is going to be very, very hard to meet, the next step is implementing controls," Andary said. "We think we are already well-controlled."
The air board will also consider imposing for the first time annual standards for particles 2.5 microns across and smaller. These even tinier pollutants are commonly produced by burning fuels and are believed to be especially toxic.
(Source: Environmental News Network)