The EPA just announced that it will re-examine its previous decision to retain the particulate matter (PM) National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). On December 7, 2020, the EPA announced its decision to retain, without revision, the existing primary (health-based) and secondary (welfare-based) NAAQS for particulate matter. EPA expects to issue a proposed rulemaking in Summer 2022 and a final rule in Spring 2023.
EPA will develop a supplement to the 2019 final Integrated Science Assessment (ISA) that will take into account the most up-to-date science, including new studies in the emerging area of COVID-related research.
This supplement will be reviewed at a public meeting by the chartered Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), supported by a particulate matter review panel of scientific experts on the health and welfare impacts of PM. The CASAC and PM panel will also review a revised policy assessment and formulate advice to the Administrator.
As with all reviews, the public will have opportunities to comment on these documents during the CASAC review process, as well as to provide input during the rulemaking through the public comment process and public hearings on any proposed decision.
The strong body of scientific evidence shows that long- and short-term exposures to fine particles (PM2.5) can harm people’s health, leading to heart attacks, asthma attacks, and premature death. Large segments of the U.S. population, including children, people with heart or lung conditions, and people of color, are at risk of health effects from PM2.5. In addition, a number of recent studies have examined relationships between COVID and air pollutants, including PM, and potential health implications. While some PM is emitted directly from sources such as construction sites, unpaved roads, fields, smokestacks or fires, most particles form in the atmosphere as a result of complex reactions of chemicals such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, which are pollutants emitted from power plants, industrial facilities and vehicles.
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The U.S. EPA signed an amendment to the rule on February 28, 2022 that removes the stay of the formaldehyde limit for lean premix and diffusion flame gas-fired units that were constructed or reconstructed after January 14, 2003.