FRIDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has finalized new standards, first proposed in June, to regulate soot and other fine-particle air pollution, officials announced Friday.
The new annual standards call for reducing fine-particle pollution to 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air from the current standard of 15 micrograms, which was set in 1997.
These added protections will "do more to safeguard the health and well-being of American families," EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said during an early afternoon press conference Friday.
Fine-particle pollution -- known as PM2.5 -- comes from sources such as power plants, refineries and diesel trucks. It can reach deep into the lungs and cause a variety of health problems, including asthma and heart disease.
"By 2030, it is expected that all standards that cut PM2.5 from diesel vehicles and equipment alone will prevent up to 40,000 premature deaths, 32,000 hospital admissions and 4.7 million days of work lost due to illness," Jackson said.
In terms of health costs, savings could exceed $9 billion a year by 2020, Jackson said. Estimated costs of implementing the new measures range from $53 million to $350 million, she said.
Environmental advocates praised the new protections.
"The EPA's long-awaited standards for soot are an important win for the American people and our environment," John Walke, clean air director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement Friday.
Walke said reducing this form of air pollution will save thousands of lives and prevent thousands of asthma attacks and heart attacks, as well as various respiratory illnesses, including lung cancer.
"Today's standards define how much of this pollution is unhealthy for humans to breathe and set clean-air limits that will ensure healthy air quality," he added. Federal and state poll
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