Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

Proposed Diesel Rules Seen as Boon to Public Health

Academic journal article Journal of Environmental Health

Proposed Diesel Rules Seen as Boon to Public Health

Article excerpt

In May, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) announced a series of proposals for reducing diesel fuel and exhaust, and the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has hailed the proposals as the biggest clean air advance in a generation.

The proposed rules would require

* a 95 percent reduction in nitrogen oxides emissions, phased in over four years, to be completed by 2010;

* a 90 percent reduction in particulate emissions by 2007; and

* a 97 percent reduction in sulfur levels from the current standard of 500 parts per million to 15 parts per million.

Gina Solomon, M.D., M.P.H., a member of NRDC's medical staff, explained that nitrogen oxides contribute to ground-level ozone formation, smog, and nutrient pollution in waterways. Furthermore, she said, particulate matter is associated with increased asthma emergencies; bronchitis and other cardiopulmonary ailments; cancer; and heart disease.

"The new EPA rules could mean longer, healthier lives for many Americans," Dr. Solomon said. "They can mean a reduction in the epidemic of childhood asthma emergencies and a reduced cancer risk for everyone."

The cut in the amount of sulfur in diesel fuel would open the door to the use of advanced emission controls that cannot work with currently available high-sulfur fuels. Citing its 1973 victory in removing lead from gasoline, NRDC says that reducing sulfur levels in diesel fuel would be the most significant vehicle-pollution news in a generation. …

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