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EPA Issues Final Reconsideration of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter (PM)

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On February 7, 2024, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced a final rule that tightens the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for fine particle pollution, also known as PM2.5 or soot.

EPA is setting a new benchmark for the annual PM2.5 standard at 9.0 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3) based on the latest scientific findings regarding the health effects associated with particle pollution.

In simple terms, fine particles (PM2.5), measuring 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, can come from various sources such as vehicles, smokestacks, fires, and reactions in the atmosphere from power plants and engines. Additionally, there are larger particles (PM10), with diameters ranging from 2.5 to 10 micrometers, originating from road dust, construction, industrial processes, and more.

EPA’s analysis of particle pollution involves research on air pollution controls, considering the cost, emissions changes, and other impacts. However, it’s important to note that the EPA recognizes certain limitations and uncertainties in their findings.

For instance, EPA faces challenges in accounting for regional or local variations in capital and annual cost components like energy, labor, or materials. Control efficiency estimates assume perfect installation and maintenance, not accounting for potential discrepancies in individual applications. The use of a uniform value for each control may lead to operational disparities, and reflecting the scale of control application variability for small area sources of emissions proves difficult.

As air quality standards evolve, there may be changes that impact your small operations. We recommend staying tuned for updates and, if needed, consider reaching out to the Environmental Management Assistance Program (EMAP) for guidance on navigating these changes.

At EMAP, we are committed to supporting small businesses in Pennsylvania through changes in environmental regulations and air quality issues. Please feel free to contact EMAP if you have any questions or need assistance in adapting to these evolving standards.

Jeremy Hancher is the EMAP Program Manager located at the Widener University SBDC.  He holds over 15 years of experience in environmental compliance, environmental policy, and program management.  He is proud to be the team lead of the award-winning EMAP program which provides free and confidential environmental assistance to the Pennsylvania small business community in fulfillment of the requirements of the Pennsylvania Air Pollution Control Act and Section 507 of the federal Clean Air Act.
In 2015, Jeremy was part of the team effort when EMAP was recognized by US EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy for Outstanding Accomplishments by a State Small Business Environmental Assistance Provider in Providing Technical Environmental Assistance to the Small Business Community. Jeremy holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh, a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and a certificate from the Wharton School.