UAI calls out EPA for failed PM reductions

By Urban Air Initiative | July 02, 2020

In comments filed this weekThe Urban Air Initiative called the U.S EPA’s decision not to tighten air quality standards for particulate matter (PM) a shortsighted and technically flawed decision, and urged the agency to adopt tighter standards to save lives.

EPA’s proposed rulemaking essentially rejects attempts to improve National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for PM, stating existing controls were sufficient, despite the recommendation of experts in the health and scientific communities.

“The Administrator’s decision that current standards are adequate for primary and secondary PM emissions fails to recognize the growing body of evidence that both gaseous and particulate emissions, especially from motor vehicles, is a leading cause for chronic health issues in urban areas,” said Steven VanderGriend, UAI Technical Director.

In the comments filed, UAI noted the direct source of urban particulates are coming from mobile sources and that emerging engine technology using direct injection of gasoline will significantly increase ultra-fine particulates. These particulates, even smaller than PM 2.5, are linked to the toxic aromatic compounds refiners use to increase octane.

UAI argues that EPA’s current models are not capable of modeling future reductions accurately since the agency is relying on flawed data.  EPA’s Motor Vehicle Emissions Simulator model, often referred to as MOVES, is based on data generated by studies we have repeatedly challenged as to their accuracy and reliance on test fuels that do not reflect real world fuel data.

“Former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has compared the value of reducing PM to a cure for cancer”, said VanderGriend. “Although it has been disbanded, the EPA Advisory Panel on PM, as well as a new Harvard study, all urge that we be more aggressive.  We know fuels, and specifically reducing aromatics can play a key role in achieving reductions and urge EPA to do more, not less in setting standards.”