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New EPA standards would blow cleaner air through NYC metro area

Smoke stacks.
Rick Bowmer
Smoke stacks.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced this week new air quality limits on tiny particle pollution, also known as soot. According to the American Lung Association, the New York City metro area will see benefits blowing in from out-of-state.

According to the advocacy group, soot is among the nation’s most significant and dangerous air pollutants, causing an estimated 85,000 to 200,000 deaths annually.

“Strengthening the annual particle pollution standard will make an important difference, especially for communities near a pollution source like a power plant or a busy road," Harold Wimmer, president and CEO of the American Lung Association, said in a statement Wednesday. "Particle pollution kills. It can cause serious health harms from breathing problems, asthma attacks, cardiovascular problems to lung cancer and fetal harm.”

The revised rules, which under the Clean Air Act set legal limits to the release of soot and other air pollutants, will lower the amount of annual particle pollution from 12 to 9 micrograms per cubic meter.

The EPA predicts that by 2032, the U.S. will see 4,500 fewer premature deaths due to the new standards.

In its annual report card, the American Lung Association does not name any Connecticut or Long Island counties as having pollution emissions higher than the new requirements.

A spokesperson said more robust standards would stop factories and other industries in the Midwest from adding to the pollution problem in the New York City metro area.

The latest report shows the air quality in Fairfield County was the metro area’s most unhealthy in 2023, worse than their results in prior year.

Last year, Connecticut received a “C” grade for short-term particle pollution.

Kimoyia Walters is a graduate intern at WSHU.