The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declined stricter regulations on particle matter pollution, according to The Washington Post and The New York Times. The change goes against scientists’ recommendations for particulate matter.

The change keeps in place regulations with a standard of 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air, per the Post, while scientists pushed for standards between 8 and 10 micrograms. Particles are a product of vehicle exhaust, industrial factories, power plants, and smokestacks.

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The particulate matter is also correlated with asthma, heart attacks, and other health problems. There’s also increased data showing that air pollution is linked to lethal outcomes from Covid-19 and other respiratory diseases.

“Given the deadly nature of this pollutant, my advice to the new administration would be to very quickly embark on the process to make the standard more stringent,” said Richard Revesz, an expert on environmental law at New York University, in the New York Times.

Environmentalists, including the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) condemned the decision. “This administration could have strengthened the limits on soot to protect our lungs and give people at the highest risk of dying from Covid-19 a better chance at fighting off this virus. But it chose not to — leaving the health of tens of millions of Americans at risk,” John Walke, the group’s clean air director, said in a statement.

Read more recent news on air pollution in One Green Planet, check out these articles:

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