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EPA Awards $100,000 to Philadelphia to Monitor Particle Pollution

08/02/2018
Contact Information: 
David Sternberg (sternberg.david@epa.gov)
215-814-5548

EPA Awards $100,000 to Philadelphia to Monitor Particle Pollution

PHILADELPHIA (August 2, 2018)Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it has awarded $100,000 to Philadelphia for monitoring fine particulate matter in the city’s air.

“Elevated levels of fine particulate matter in the air pose significant health concerns for the people of Philadelphia and many areas in the United States,” said EPA Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio. “Effective monitoring programs can help areas like Philadelphia determine and implement actions necessary to meet the health-based air-quality standard which means we all breathe easier.”

Areas such as Philadelphia that have had (or have contributed to) fine particulate, also called PM2.5, levels greater than allowed under EPA’s health-based national air quality standard are called nonattainment areas. States and in some cases cities with designated nonattainment areas must submit and implement plans that outline how they will meet the PM2.5 standard.

PM2.5 is a mixture of microscopic solids and liquid droplets suspended in the air. While particles can come directly from sources, such as construction sites, unpaved roads, fields, smokestacks or fires, most particles form in the atmosphere as a result of emissions of chemical compounds such as sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen from power plants, industries and automobiles.

Meeting the PM2.5 standard nation-wide would prevent at least 15,000 premature deaths; 75,000 cases of chronic bronchitis; 10,000 hospital admissions for respiratory and cardiovascular disease; hundreds of thousands of occurrences of aggravated asthma; and 3.1 million days when people miss work because they are suffering from symptoms related to particle pollution exposure each year.

Background: EPA’s most recent air trends report highlights that, between 1970 and 2017, the combined emissions of six key pollutants dropped by 73 percent, while the U.S. economy grew more than three times. A closer look at more recent progress shows that between 1990 and 2017, average concentrations of harmful air pollutants decreased significantly across our nation:

•           Sulfur dioxide (1-hour) ↓ 88 percent

•           Lead (3-month average) ↓ 80 percent

•           Carbon monoxide (8-hour) ↓ 77 percent

•           Nitrogen dioxide (annual) ↓ 56 percent

•           Fine Particulate Matter (24-hour) ↓ 40 percent

•           Coarse Particulate Matter (24-hour) ↓ 34 percent and

•           Ground-level ozone (8-hour) ↓ 22 percent

EPA continues to work with states, local governments, tribes, and citizens – to further improve air quality across the country for all Americans.

The report includes interactive graphics that enable citizens, policymakers, and stakeholders to view and download detailed information by pollutant, geographic location, and year. Explore the report and download graphics and data here: https://gispub.epa.gov/air/trendsreport/2018/

Learn more about fine particle air pollution: https://www.epa.gov/pm-pollution/particulate-matter-pm-basics.