Sierra Club
Sierra Club Press Release

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June 15, 2012


Contact: Eitan Bencuya, 202-495-3047,

Sierra Club Applauds EPA’s Life-Saving Soot Protections

Updated Standard Will Save Thousands of Lives


WASHINGTON DC -- Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposal to update standards for the amount of industrial particle pollution, or soot, in the air. These updated safeguards are a result of a federal court order requiring the EPA to issue standards for particle pollution this month. In addition, these standards will ensure Americans have the most accurate information about when their local air quality is at hazardous levels. The standard affirms what scientists, doctors and many families already know -- that there’s an urgent need to limit soot because of its deadly health effects. 

Soot is a dangerous mix of metals, chemicals and acid drops, released into the air by burning dirty fuels like coal. Even at very low levels, soot is harmful to human health. When inhaled deeply, soot enters the bloodstream and is transported to the body’s vital organs. Soot particles are so small -- 1/30th the width of a human hair -- that they bypass the body’s natural ability to expel larger particles with a cough or a sneeze, and they can lodge deep within the lungs. According to scientists, exposure to soot can cause heart attacks, strokes, asthma attacks, lung inflammation, cancer, developmental and reproductive harm and even premature death. 

In response, Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, issued the following statement:

“The Sierra Club applauds the Environmental Protection Agency for issuing these life-saving clean air standards to protect Americans from life-threatening air pollution. Pollution kills - and it also costs Americans billions of dollars each year.  The EPA’s soot safeguards will keep dangerous metals and chemicals out of the air we breathe to save thousands of lives and billions of dollars.

“It’s time to put the health and safety of our children and families first.”