Statement: Biden administration’s action to reduce soot pollution will save lives

Media Contacts
Zach Barber

Clean Air Advocate, PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

Ellie Kerns

Climate Field Organizer, PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

PITTSBURGH – Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized an updated standard that reduces the allowable levels of soot pollution in our air. This newly updated standard reduces allowable soot pollution by 25%, dramatically improving public health and saving lives. 

“Clean air is a right, not a privilege—and today’s announcement by Biden’s EPA makes a critical step toward delivering cleaner air for millions of Americans,” said Zachary Barber, Clean Air Advocate with the PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center. “Taking soot pollution out of our air will save lives and help kids with asthma breathe more easily, especially in places like Pennsylvania that regularly suffer from elevated soot levels.”

The rule is celebrated by Pennsylvania’s elected officials, including Pennsylvania State Senator Art Haywood, who shared: “Air pollution must be addressed. One form of it is soot pollution, which causes hospitalization and visits to the emergency room. We know it is also linked to asthma and cardiovascular disease. I support new regulations that protect us from air pollution here in the Commonwealth.”

Soot, also known as fine particulate matter or particle pollution, is a dangerous and deadly human-made air pollutant that primarily comes from burning fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal. Millions of Pennsylvanians live in parts of the state that frequently suffer elevated levels of soot pollution

“Pennsylvanians deserve better, and the EPA’s new standard can facilitate that by bringing about cleaner air, which will save an estimated 4,500 lives and avoid 800,000 asthma attacks every year!” remarked Pennsylvania State Representative Chris Rabb. “I strongly support the Biden administration’s efforts to lower this standard toward protecting the health and quality of life of Pennsylvania’s most impacted communities.”

During the EPA’s public comment period about the proposal, the PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center collected nearly 10,000 comments from concerned Pennsylvanians in support of strong action from EPA to rein in this dangerous pollution.

“This policy adds to the Biden administration’s extensive legacy of implementing strong science-based solutions to protect public health and shows that breathing clean and healthy air is a right and not a privilege,” added Barber. “We applaud President Biden and his team for championing this rule and securing cleaner air for millions of Pennsylvanians and Americans.”

Hear from Pennsylvania Leaders:

“As the new mayor of Chester – a city that faces numerous environmental justice issues and the negative health impacts of extreme air pollution – I am grateful to the Environmental Protection Agency for increasing the National Air Quality standards,” said Chester Mayor Stefan Roots. “Residents of Chester will directly benefit from more stringent air quality standards, being able to breathe fresher air and live longer, healthier lives.”

“I am glad that the EPA is working to make our air cleaner and protect our planet.  We are past the point of worrying about future impacts of air pollution. The impacts are here now, and will only get worse unless we take action,” said Bucks County Commissioner Robert Harvie.

“As we work to correct the environmental damage done over generations, stronger regulations around pollution are key to saving lives and ensuring we don’t make things worse for the future. We only get one planet to call home, and I’m proud to support the EPA in its ongoing mission to protect it,” said Bucks County Commissioner Diane Ellis-Marseglia.

“The EPA’s strengthening of particulate emissions standards will have positive economic impact in areas of healthcare, productivity, and tourism, in addition to reducing ongoing damage to the environment,” remarked Lower Providence Township Supervisor Gary Neights. “Extensive research indicates that these benefits far outweigh costs of pollution mitigation, which in fact creates new jobs and technology.”

“There is nothing in this fragile world more dangerous than the existential threat that pollution poses. I applaud the Environmental Protection Agency for their efforts to bring meaningful change in soot levels!” said Oxford Borough Council President Kathryn Cloyd.

“We should all be committed to passing on clean air to our children. Childhood asthma is at an all time high.  It seems the least we can do, in every town, borough and city, is commit to doing whatever we can to secure a clean air future for everyone,” said Lansdowne Borough Council Member Jayne Young.


PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We work to protect the places we love, advance the environmental values we share, and win real results for our environment. For more information, visit