EPA Proposes to Retain NAAQS for Particulate Matter

Filed in Codes and Standards, Environment by on April 21, 2020 0 Comments

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on April 14 announced its proposal to retain, without changes, the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for particulate matter (PM) including both fine particles (PM2.5) and coarse particles (PM10).

Fine particulates are small in diameter, such as those released by construction equipment engine emissions, while coarse particulates are larger and more visible, such as dust from construction sites. The PM NAAQS regulates construction and development activity by triggering local requirements that state and local governments impose in order to satisfy the NAAQS. If the proposal is adopted as final by EPA, it will preserve the status quo, and not trigger any changes in the current area designations or requirements those local areas will have to meet.

The Clean Air Act (CAA) requires the EPA to set two types of outdoor air quality standards:

  • Primary standards to protect public health, and
  • Secondary standards to protect the public against adverse environmental effects.

Primary standards must be “requisite to protect public health with an adequate margin of safety,” including the health of sensitive groups of people. Secondary standards must be “requisite to protect the public welfare” from both known and anticipated adverse effects.

The CAA also requires the EPA to review each national air quality standard every five years to determine whether it should be retained or revised. A decision to retain or revise the standard is made by the administrator following review and consideration of the most current available scientific evidence, and risk and exposure information, and consultation and confirmation by the agency’s independent science advisors.

EPA will accept public comment for 60 days after the proposed standards are published in the Federal Register. Details on virtual public hearings are expected to be announced shortly, and EPA intends to issue the final standards by the end of 2020.

For more information, read the EPA Fact Sheet on the action or contact Tamra Spielvogel at 800-368-5242 x8327.

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