Panel: U.S. air pollution standards not protecting public health

An independent panel of experts—including Douglas Dockery, John L. Loeb and Frances Lehman Loeb Research Professor of Environmental Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health—has concluded that current federal limits on air pollution are not adequate to protect public health.

In a June 10, 2020 Sounding Board article in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), 19 experts wrote that exposure to ambient PM2.5—fine particulate air pollution—at the levels of the current standards is likely responsible for tens of thousands of premature deaths in the U.S. each year, as well as a slew of adverse health effects, including cardiovascular events, respiratory illnesses, death from various cancers, nervous system diseases, and poor pregnancy and birth outcomes.

All of the experts had been members of a panel that advised the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee on regulations regarding particulate matter. The committee was disbanded by the Trump administration in October 2018, shortly before the group was to release a draft science assessment. The committee members decided to keep meeting on their own and continued to review the latest science and to develop advice for the EPA and the public.

Read the NEJM article: The Need for a Tighter Particulate-Matter Air-Quality Standard

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