EPA Introduces New Air Quality Standards

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Organizations around the world face increasing regulations focusing on environment, health and safety (EHS) issues. Managing these rules and regulations are a very resource-intensive activity with greater risk of brand damage, penalties, and fines for non-compliance.

Organizations have to spend significant resources in tracking these regulations carefully, and organizations have to be even more vigilant with changing international regulations, which can affect business agility and continuity.

This month Environmental Protection Agency announced new air quality standards intended to reduce the amount of soot that can be released into the air.

Environmental groups and public health advocates welcomed the move by the EPA, saying it would protect millions of Americans at risk for soot-related asthma attacks, lung cancer, heart disease and premature death.

EPA said that the new rule is based on a rigorous scientific review. All but six counties in the United States would meet the proposed standard by 2020 with no additional actions needed beyond compliance with existing and pending rules set by the EPA.

The rules include controversial regulations governing mercury emissions and cross-state air pollution emitted by power plants. The new rule would set the maximum allowable standard for soot in a range of 12 to 13 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The current annual standard is 15 micrograms per cubic meter. The EPA said it would start designating counties that fail to meet the new soot standards as soon as 2014.

Soot, made up of microscopic particles released from smokestacks, diesel trucks and buses, wood-burning stoves and other sources, contributes to haze and can burrow into lungs. Breathing in soot can cause lung and heart problems.

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