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APHA welcomes updated, stronger particulate matter pollution standard

Date: Feb 07 2024

Contact: Media Relations

APHA is pleased that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a critical final rule today that will update the annual national ambient air quality standard for particulate matter pollution from the current level of 12 micrograms per cubic meter to nine µg/m3. The updated annual standard would have significant public health benefits estimated at $46 billion by 2032. Once fully implemented, the updated standard would avoid an estimated 290,000 lost workdays, 800,000 asthma attacks, 2,000 emergency room visits and 4,500 premature deaths.

Particulate matter (PM) pollution has been known to cause breathing trouble, asthma attacks, COPD exacerbations, heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and premature death. It can harm even the healthiest, but millions of individuals across the U.S. are at greater risk if they have respiratory disease or are one of the nearly 25 million Americans with asthma. Additionally, PM exposure disproportionately impacts the health of low-income and minority communities, who often live near polluting sources. 

This critical move to strengthen this public health standard will better protect the health of the nation and help reduce the disproportionate impact PM pollution is having on the health of our most vulnerable communities.

The proposed lower annual standard for particulate matter will protect the health of millions of individuals in communities across the country. While EPA is to be commended for strengthening the annual standard, we believe it is a missed opportunity that the agency chose not to update the 24-hour standard to 25 µg/m3 as recommended by APHA and other health organizations, and we urge the agency to revisit this decision during its next review.


The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We are the only organization that combines an over 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Learn more at