Energy & Environment

Stronger pollution standards could save 143k lives: study

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A recent study found that stronger pollution regulations could save more than 143,000 lives over a decade. 

The study, published Friday by team of researchers in the Science Advances journal, determined that lowering the maximum standard for fine particulate matter, also known as soot, by 2 micrograms per cubic meter could save about 143,257 lives over a 10-year period.

The researchers used 16 years worth of data, including information about 68.5 million Medicare enrollees, to “provide strong evidence of the causal link between long-term [fine particulate matter] exposure and mortality.”

The study follows a proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to make no changes to Obama-era standards for this type of pollution.

At that time, EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler said the agency believes “ that the current standard is protective of public health.”

However, EPA staff said in January that new evidence has been “calling into question” whether the standard for fine particulate matter is adequate. 

“A conclusion that the current primary [fine particulate matter] standards do provide adequate public health protection would place little weight on the broad body of epidemiologic evidence reporting generally positive and statistically significant health effect associations,” they wrote.

A separate study has also linked fine particulate matter exposure to a greater risk of dying from COVID-19. 

Tags Andrew Wheeler EPA Pollution Science Advances Journal

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