"EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler today proposed leaving national soot standards unchanged at least through the middle of the next decade as he questioned the reliability of scientific research suggesting that tighter limits are needed to save lives.
"There's still a lot of uncertainty" surrounding that research, Wheeler told reporters on a conference call announcing his decision to leave the 2012 standards on fine particulate matter in place. Wheeler said he considered "the latest scientific evidence and analysis," as well the recommendations of an EPA advisory panel that favored the status quo despite the conclusions of agency career staff.
"We believe that the current standard is protective of public health," Wheeler said.
While Harvard University researchers recently linked long-term exposure to slightly increased levels of fine particles to sharply higher death rates during the COVID-19 pandemic, Wheeler noted that their work had not yet undergone peer review. He also questioned the authors' impartiality after they criticized the agency's decision to relax enforcement because of the outbreak (Greenwire, April 7)."