The public may gain stronger protections from small particles of soot that can lodge deep in the lungs and pose serious health threats if new standards are approved by President Barack Obama.

The rules, proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this summer and sent to the White House Tuesday for review, would set new limits for emissions of fine particulate matter, or soot, from such sources as power plants, industrial boilers and diesel exhaust.

Earlier standards proposed under President George W. Bush were deemed too weak by a federal court. The agency is under a court order to issue new soot health rules by Dec. 14 to meet a new national ambient air quality standard under the Clean Air Act.

“We’re mobilizing our members to urge the White House to adopt the strongest protections possible.” — Donald Hoppert, APHA director of government relations

“We’re mobilizing our members to urge the White House to adopt the strongest protections possible,” said Donald Hoppert, APHA director of government relations. “It’s been a long battle, but we’re hopeful for a public health victory.”

Poll results released last week by the American Lung Association show strong public support for stricter limits on the amount of soot released from industrial facilities by a 2-to-1 margin.

According to APHA, particulate matter is one of the most dangerous air pollutants, causing premature deaths, cardiovascular and respiratory harm, and increased risk of hospitalization and emergency room visits.

To tell the president to set the strongest standards possible to protect public health, visit APHA’s Take Action page.

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