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Opinion: Montana health professionals urge air standards for particulate

We are Montana nurses and doctors who are among the many U.S. health professionals who testified or commented in opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rule to maintain the current National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter.

We emphasized that particle pollution makes people sick and causes premature death at levels the Trump administration says are safe, and that EPA’s rule failed to follow the latest science, failed to comply with the Clean Air Act, and failed to protect the health of Montanans and all Americans. 

Earlier this week, with just weeks left in its tenure, the Trump EPA announced that it was finalizing the rule without strengthening the standards, despite the agency’s own staff scientists estimating that a more protective standard could save as many as 12,500 lives a year.

More protective particle pollution standards are essential for not only reducing dangerous air pollution, but also addressing climate change and racial disparities.

As evidence mounts that air pollution and adverse COVID-19 outcomes are linked, and as people of color continue to suffer disproportionate COVID-19 death rates, we call on President-elect Biden to strengthen the standards and make slashing particle pollution a top priority.

Lori Byron, MD, Hardin MT; Robert Byron, MD, Hardin MT; Charles Fitts, RN, Missoula MT; Kathleen Masis, MD, Billings MT; Robert Merchant, MD, Billings MT; Tom Roberts, MD, Missoula MT; Julia Ryder, RN, Bozeman MT; Paul Smith, DO, Missoula MT; Elizabeth Schenk, PhD, RN, Missoula MT; Lora Wier, RN, Choteau MT; Allison Young, MD, Missoula MT