EPA PM 2.5 study rebuked by scientific advisory panel in escalating clash over soot standards.

November 26, 2019

EPA’s preliminary findings on an air pollution standard with widespread public health implications are being bluntly rejected by most members of a key scientific advisory panel according to a November 14th Energy and Environmental News Report.

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The panel’s conclusions are likely to sharpen the controversy over a review criticized by detractors for turning a regulatory decision into a politicized process with a predetermined outcome.

A majority on the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) said that in light of “limitations” in the findings, EPA “does not establish that new scientific evidence and data reasonably call into question the public health protection” afforded by the existing annual standard for fine particles, according to the draft report released November 12th.

The draft document is a follow-up to last month’s public meeting at which the committee split 4-2 in favor of keeping the status quo. (See November 2019 MIRATECH Emissions Monitor). CASAC members are now set to revisit that standoff at another gathering early next month near EPA’s offices in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

In the new report, the majority, led by Chairman Tony Cox, faults the preliminary findings by EPA staff on several fronts, charging that they fail to provide “a sufficiently comprehensive” assessment of the science needed to understand particulate matter’s health effects and don’t do enough to explain the causal connection.

Explicitly dissenting was Dr. Mark Frampton, a retired University of Rochester professor of medicine who repeatedly challenged Cox at last month’s meeting. The evidence supports lowering the annual threshold for fine particles, now at 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air, to as low as 8 micrograms per cubic meter, Frampton wrote. He took the occasion to again assail the handling of the legally required review under a fast-track process imposed by EPA’s political leadership.

Under the Clean Air Act, particulate matter is among a half-dozen Criteria Air Pollutants for which EPA is required to periodically assess and, if needed, revise the National Ambient Air Quality Standards based on the latest research into their health and environmental effects.

The final decision will rest with EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. In a brief interview acting EPA air chief Anne Idsal said the agency is conducting the review through the “regular process.”

Under the truncated timetable set in May 2018 by then-Administrator Scott Pruitt, the review is supposed to conclude by the end of next year, or roughly two years ahead of the previous schedule.

What this means to you
EPA’s preliminary findings on a PM 2.5 pollution standard with widespread public health implications are being bluntly rejected by most members of its Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee.

MIRATECH can help
Contact MIRATECH for stationary engine particulate matter emission solutions.