Home McEachin leads 47 lawmakers in push to finalize NAAQS

McEachin leads 47 lawmakers in push to finalize NAAQS

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More than 137 million Americans live in areas with unhealthy amounts of particle pollution.

According to the American Lung Association’s “State of the Air” report, exposure to these particles can create severe health impacts on cardiovascular and respiratory systems, and lead to chronic illnesses and health complications.

Congressman A. Donald McEachin, according to a press release, sent a letter to Michael Regan, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with a call to finalize the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). Signed by 47 members of the Virginia House, the letter encourages the EPA to strengthen standards to mitigate the worst impacts of harmful air pollution and protect the ability of Americans to breathe clean air.

“Under the Clean Air Act, EPA is required to review the NAAQS using the best available science and determine the standards that best protect public health with an adequate margin of safety,” the letter said. “The 2020 review of the PM2.5 NAAQS was rushed and ignored the science that showed the current standards (which were ultimately maintained) to be inadequate to protect public health.”

According to the letter, strengthening NAAQS is about health equity. “People of color are 61 percent more likely than white people to live in an area with unhealthy air quality. For decades, environmental justice communities – low-income communities, communities of color and Tribal and indigenous communities – have suffered disproportionately from the cumulative exposure to multiple pollutants.”

The letter also shared that ALA’s 2022 “State of the Air” report concluded that 9 million more Americans were impacted by deadly particle pollution from 2018-2020 than in the previous report’s findings because of the frequency and intensity of wildfires. Wildfire smoke can linger in the air, degrade air quality and threaten health.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.