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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Arizonans celebrate new EPA soot standards

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Thursday, February 22, 2024   

Arizona leaders are encouraged by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's new soot standards they said will protect people from dangerous and deadly particle pollution.

Sandy Bahr, director of the Grand Canyon chapter of the Sierra Club, said the revised standards will help reduce harmful pollution and improve air quality by lowering the standard for fine particulate matter 2.5 microns or smaller in diameter, known as PM 2.5, from 12 micrograms per cubic meter to nine micrograms per cubic meter.

"Due to its small size, soot can penetrate our lungs, get into our blood stream causing really harmful impacts, including premature death, heart disease, aggravated asthma and decreased lung function, coughing and difficulty breathing," Bahr outlined.

The EPA said the new standards will prevent up to 4,500 premature deaths and 290,000 lost workdays, yielding up to $46 billion in net health benefits in 2032.

Bahr pointed out the standard failed to strengthen the 24-hour PM 2.5 standard, which would have helped protect Arizonans from short-term spikes in air pollution.

Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association, contended the new standards are what he considers "a call to action," for air quality districts around the state and Arizona's Department of Environmental Quality.

"To come up with new plans to implement new strategies to reduce the amount of particulate matter this is coming off of agricultural lands, industry, paved roads, even fireplace dust and smoke," Humble urged. "There's a lot of different sources that they're going to have to take a look at now."

Humble added the new standard will prevent air quality districts and the Department of Environmental Quality from placing their monitoring stations in areas he said they know are clean, instead focusing on communities where people live and work.

Disclosure: The Sierra Club contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, and Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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