U.S. lowers limit for car, industry soot emissions


The United States on Friday tightened restrictions on emissions of industrial and vehicle soot by 20 percent, predicting the regulations will avert thousands of deaths.

The Environmental Protection Agency, in its first major announcement since President Barack Obama’s re-election, ordered stricter rules on so-called fine particle pollution that can easily get into people’s lungs.

“Families across the country will benefit from the simple fact of being able to breathe cleaner air,” EPA head Lisa Jackson told reporters on a conference call.

“More children will be able to go outside and play with their friends without fear of triggering an asthma attack,” she said.

The agency said the new standards on diesel vehicles and equipment would prevent up to 40,000 premature deaths by 2030. The agency said implementing the regulations will require from $53 million to $350 million, but estimated that the cost would be outweighed by health benefits of between $4 billion and $9 billion a year.

The agency set a yearly limit on fine particle pollution of no more than 12 micrograms per cubic meter, down from the current limit of 15 micrograms.

Jackson said that 66 of the more than 3,000 counties in the United States are believed not to be in compliance with the new standard, but that only seven counties — all in California — were not on track to meet the rules by 2020.