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EPA Particulate Matter Research Report Released

Release Date: 09/09/2004
Contact Information: Suzanne Ackerman, (202) 564-7819 / ackerman.suzanne@epa.gov

(Washington, D.C. - Sept. 9, 2004) To further EPA's goal of safe and healthy air for every American community, EPA has released the report, "Particulate Matter (PM) Research Program: Five Years of Progress." This report summarizes PM research by EPA scientists, grantees from universities and other U.S. research institutions.

This report represents progress in the Agency's long-term plan to reduce hazardous air emissions through the combination of monitoring, regulation, and research. In 1997, following a number of epidemiological studies, EPA revised the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for PM by setting a new standard for particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5 or fine PM). The research report released today is part of a federally coordinated effort to define PM health effects. Other federal participants in PM research include the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Energy.

The research conducted since 1997 confirms earlier findings that exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) air pollution is linked to increases in respiratory health problems, hospitalization for heart or lung disease, and even premature death.

EPA estimates that these new PM air regulations will prevent tens of thousands of premature deaths and reduce hospitalizations for cardiovascular and respiratory illness by tens of thousands more people each year. The monetary benefits of reducing mortality alone are estimated to be up to approximately $100 billion per year; the benefits of reducing illness and minimizing the number of lost workdays and consequences of restricted activity are estimated to provide savings of billions more dollars each year. The new regulations include:

  • Finalization by end of 2004 of the proposed the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) - the two most important precursors to PM2.5. CAIR focuses on states where SO2 and NOx emissions contribute significantly to fine particle problems in other downwind states. This proposal would result in the deepest cuts in SO2 and NOx emissions in more than a decade.
  • In June 2004, EPA proposed designated "nonattainment areas" for PM2.5, places with air quality levels exceeding the standards. In November, EPA will make final attainment and nonattainment designations. At that time, State, local and tribal governments must detail in state or tribal implementation plans (SIPs/TIPs) that demonstrate controls they will implement to meet the PM2.5 national air quality standard.
  • The Clean Air Nonroad Diesel Rule was announced in May 2004, and requires stringent pollution controls on diesel engines used in industries such as construction, agriculture and mining, and slashes the sulfur content of diesel fuel. The rule will be a major help to areas nationwide in their effort to reach the PM2.5 standards.

The PM research accomplishments report is available on the PM research Web site at: http://www.epa.gov/pmresearch . Print copies are available by contacting the National Service Center for Environmental Publications, 1-800-490-9198. The report number is EPA 600/R-04/058. For more information on the fine particle standard, go to: http://www.epa.gov/pmdesignations/