Aileen Bibaoco Agustin / Special to The Bee

Jaxin Woodward loves to run, especially when she has clean air to breathe.

Editorial: New EPA standards on airborne soot will save lives

Published: Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 6E
Last Modified: Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012 - 9:16 am

Fifth-grader Jaxin Woodward was diagnosed with severe asthma as an infant. She takes medication daily to control her symptoms.

But, as Woodward told U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulators who were in Sacramento last summer to gather testimony about proposed new emission standards, asthma "is only part of who I am. I love running!"

"I run in our community 5K and fun runs and around my home and at school because it is the biggest part of who I am," she added. "I am a runner!"

On Friday, the EPA did the right thing for Woodward and everyone else in the world who breathes. The agency issued tough new standards that will force power plants, diesel vehicles, manufacturers and other polluters to reduce their soot emissions. The fine particles regulated under the tighter new standards – tiny gritty bits of toxic smoke, metals and soot – can penetrate deep into airways and embed in lungs. They can trigger lung and heart disease and, in kids like Woodward, asthma attacks. Fine-particle pollution leads to premature death.

Opponents of the new standard warned that it will make it harder and more expensive for businesses to expand or build new plants, and that it will add to the jobless rate. The EPA's financial analysis refutes those claims. Because of previous steps taken by federal regulators to cut pollution, 99 percent of U.S. counties are projected to attain the new standard without taking any additional action. Fewer than 10 counties of more than 3,000 across the nation will have to take corrective action.

By 2020, when the standards go into effect, only seven counties are expected to be out of compliance. Significantly, all of those are in California.

The tougher standard is a money saver. It will create a huge net benefit for public health and the economy. The health benefits alone are estimated to save the economy anywhere from $4 billion to $9 billion annually in fewer hospitalizations and lost work days, among other things. Meanwhile the cost of implementation is expected to range between $53 million and $350 million.

Of course, the benefit to runners like young Jaxin Woodward are incalculable.

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