For Immediate Release, November 5, 2013

Contact: Jonathan Evans, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 436-9682 x 318

Lawsuit Filed to Protect People, Wildlife From Toxic Soot Pollution

Failure to Reduce Soot Threatens
California, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Tennessee

SAN FRANCISCO— The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit today to require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to enforce Clean Air Act standards limiting dangerous pollution from tiny airborne particles like soot. The legal action was taken in response to EPA’s failure to ensure that five states are implementing air-quality plans that reduce soot pollution. 

“The Clean Air Act saves lives, protects wildlife and the places they live, and reduces haze from toxic soot pollution,” said Jonathan Evans, toxics and endangered species campaign director at the Center. “We can only reduce the scourge of air pollution if the EPA and states follow a sound blueprint to clean up our skies.”

Soot, referred to as “particulate matter” by the EPA, is known to cause a range of health problems for people and wildlife. It fills the air with haze, harms plant life and acidifies water bodies. Particulate matter is made up of tiny particles about 30 times smaller than the width of the average human hair, and can lodge deep in the lungs, posing serious health risks to humans and wildlife.

A range of toxic soot has been associated with a broad spectrum of harms to terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, including decreased biodiversity. This widespread pollution also causes regional haze that fouls scenic vistas in cities, national parks and wilderness areas. 

The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set nationwide, health-based standards for particulate pollution and sets mandatory deadlines for the states to develop, and for the agency to approve, specific plans for meeting the standards. In communities throughout California, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Tennessee, the EPA has failed to rule on whether metropolitan areas have submitted adequate plans to reduce soot pollution. The Center’s lawsuit demands that the agency correct these violations in order to set up plans to reduce dangerous soot levels. 

“The science is clear. Soot poisons our skies, our bodies and our ecosystems,” said Evans. “The EPA needs to take steps right now to implement the Clean Air Act to save lives and protect our environment.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 625,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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