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Is the Current Fine Particulate Standard Protective of Public Health?

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The new annual PM 2.5 standard will be the most difficult particulate matter (PM) standard to satisfy. At issue is whether the extant health evidence supports the rationale for this standard being the controlling standard. Indeed the key issue is whether this standard will result in the most cost-effective way to protect public health. This paper examines the health literature and concludes that the evidence for the annual PM 2.5 standard is weak. The bulk of the health evidence is related to daily exposures to PM 10 and larger particle sizes, and there is no rational way to decide upon the correct level for this standard. It is unclear whether the most restrictive PM 2.5 standard will be protective of public health. Clearly research is needed to determine the correct PM metric, averaging time, and level for a standard. To date such research has been limited.

Keywords: PM; PM 10; PM 2.5; USEPA; air quality standards; health effects

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: EPRI, Palo Alto, CA

Publication date: June 1, 1999


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