The Evangelical Environmental Network is thankful for EPA Administrator Regan’s announcement this morning regarding lowering the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for PM2.5 to a 9-10 μg/m3 range for the annual standard while keeping the 24-hour standard at 35 μg/m3.
“It’s a start,” said Rev. Mitch Hescox, EEN’s President & C.E.O. “The National Ambient Air Quality Standards are to be updated every five years, and it’s been almost ten since the PM2.5 standard was last revised. While we are not content with the proposed standards, we are glad the public process is finally underway, and EEN will work to strengthen the rule.”
PM2.5 is exceptionally fine soot that is 2.5 microns in diameter and is largely generated – both directly and indirectly – by the combustion of coal, diesel, gasoline, biofuels, and related high-temperature processes. It contains complex mixtures of particles including soot, organics, nitrates, sulfates, metals, and related chemicals that can penetrate deeply into the lungs and brain. PM2.5 is a deadly killer responsible for up to 200,000 deaths in the United States every year. Recent medical research links PM2.5 to nine (9) causes of death: cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, dementia, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, lung cancer, and pneumonia.
As pro-life evangelicals, we have a special concern for the unborn. We want children to be born healthy and unhindered by the ravages of pollution even before they take their first breath. The medical community has long known that unborn children are especially vulnerable to environmental impacts, and PM2.5 is among the most harmful. Currently, 1 in 9 pregnancies in the U.S. result in pre-term birth, and this rate is even higher in African American Communities with 1 in 5 pre-term births. The leading cause of pre-term birth is intrauterine inflammation, and the leading cause of this inflammation is PM2.5. The effect of this pollution is approximately 16,000 pre-term births in the U.S., with 35% of these births resulting in death.
These consequences are unacceptable, and EEN will work hard to strengthen the standards to 8 μg/m3 for the annual standard and reduce the 24-hour standard to 25 μg/m3. For us, creation care is a biblical command and a matter of life, which is why we will work to defend our children’s health from the dangers of PM2.5.
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