WASHINGTON, July 2 (UPI) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has introduced two plans for tougher standards on airborne soot.
The EPA said "fine particulate matter" or soot causes 5,000 premature deaths from respiratory disease in nine major cities -- Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Jose, Calif., and Seattle. Under 1997 regulations, soot levels are not supposed be more than 15 micrograms per cubic meter of air annually or 65 micrograms during a 24-hour period.
The Washington Post reports that one of EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson's proposals would keep the annual limit the same while reducing the daily one to no more than 25 to 35 micrograms while the other would cut the annual limit to 12 to 15 micrograms per cubic meter of air and the daily limit to 25 to 40 micrograms.
"These standards could provide the Bush administration with a historic opportunity to protect public health," Frank O'Donnell, head of the Clean Air Trust, told the Post.