Earlier this summer, residents from Port Richmond participated in a special hearing at the Environmental Protection Agency aimed at reviewing the current national standards for particulate matter. The standard is for particulate matter (sometimes called soot) that is less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. Particulate matter is actually dust, but the dust created by combustion engines (i.e. your car, diesel trucks, etc.) is very small and has harmful chemicals attached to it. The smaller these particles are, they can travel deeper into your body where they have much more serious health consequences.
Residents from Port Richmond came out to the Philadelphia hearing to testify in support of the new standard, which would lower the current ambient standard of 15 micrograms per meter cubed. On December 14, EPA announced that it would officially reduce the standard to 12 micrograms, marking the first change in standards in over a decade. Clean Air Council officially thanked the EPA for their hard work by collecting over 300 signatures in support of the decision. You can find our press release for the event here, with a quote from Port Richmond resident Jackie Saier.
This decision will require states to refine their strategic plans for reducing particulate matter emissions, and will ultimately help improve air quality in urban areas such as Philadelphia. We don’t know yet if any new pollution reduction programs will be targeted in the River Wards because of this new standard. The next year will give us a better idea of how this new standard will affect implementation plans in Pennsylvania. Still, this is a win for those Port Richmond residents that came out to the hearing this summer. Good work.