Growth Energy urges EPA COVID-19 panel to examine air toxics

By Erin Voegele | May 15, 2020

In a letter to the U.S. EPA’s Science Advisory Board, Growth Energy urged members of a new COVID-19 Review Panel to examine the impact of toxic gasoline additives on respiratory health, as well as the potential benefits offered by biobased alternatives like ethanol.

“As you explore the human costs of air pollution, including heightened risk from COVID-19 among vulnerable communities, we urge SAB members to examine the wide body of related research pointing to readily available solutions,” wrote Chris Bliley, Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at Growth Energy. “Federal regulators have long acknowledged that biofuels reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 39 percent or more, but ethanol also serves as the single most affordable and abundant alterative to toxic fuel additives, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene. These petroleum-based aromatics play a dominant role in the formation of toxic emissions linked to cancer, as well as neurological, cardiovascular, and reproductive damage. They also drive significant increases in particulate emissions, which cause asthma and contribute to heart and lung disease.”

The SAB’s COVID-19 Review Panel was created in April to provide rapid advice on scientific issues to inform EPA’s response to the crisis. Among the topics the panel is charged with considering are environmental factors affecting the transmission and severity of COVID-19, including air pollutants like ozone, particulate matter, and diesel exhaust.

“Now more than ever, it’s critical that the EPA explore the full impact of petroleum-based aromatics on air quality,” added Bliley, who recommended the agency examine data linking particulate matter and negative health impacts, including groundbreaking research by Dr. Steffen Mueller at the University of Illinois Chicago’s Energy Resource Center.

Read Growth Energy's letter to SAB here.