air pollutionsThe American Public Health Association (APHA) is throwing its support behind the EPA’s bid for a tough new air quality standard that the organization says will protect the health of all Americans by curbing harmful emissions of fine particulate matter, also known as soot. On the other side of the issue, manufacturers are predicting that it will “crush” growth.

The new rule lowers the limit of current annual exposure standard of 15 micrograms per cubic meter down to a standard of 12.

“The public health community applauds these long overdue stronger standards,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, executive director of APHA. “Science clearly links exposure to fine particulate matter to premature death, increased hospitalization and worsening of a range of health conditions, including heart attack, stroke and asthma.

“This rule protects communities across the country from dirty, harmful air. It’s a public health victory for everyone, but particularly for children, the elderly and those with chronic health conditions who are at increased risk.

“Particulate matter is one of the most dangerous air pollutants. Curbing emissions will not only dramatically reduce the burden of disease but also save medical costs. On a number of fronts, this will help us all breathe much more safely and easily.”

However, Jay Timmons, President and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) objected to the new rule, charging that it would negatively affect the creation of new jobs.

“This new standard will crush manufacturers’ plans for growth by restricting counties’ ability to issue permits for new facilities, which makes them less attractive for new business,” said Timmons. “Essentially, existing facilities will have to be shuttered for new facilities to be built in these areas.”