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Hey, it’s summer! That means we can rip electronics out of our kids’ hands and tell them to “go out and play!” But tragically, many of us will need to think twice about booting them outdoors because of air pollution. Studies have shown that air pollution can stunt growing lungs, particularly in children who spend a lot of time in the open air. Exposure to air polluted with nitrogen dioxide, acid vapors and particulate matter (soot) has been found to have the greatest association with impaired lung growth.

Not let kids play outside?? How ridiculous! That’s why we need to clean up the air, and why we should all be excited about the proposed new Soot Standards from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which would decrease the allowable limit of fine particles in the air.

Soot, or fine particle pollution, comes from a variety of sources, including diesel fuel, power plants, and fires. It’s microscopic, burrowing deep in the lungs, making it extremely difficult to expel. A recent study has shown that once you breathe air with diesel soot, 50% of the soot particles – yes, half! – stays in your lungs. In addition to encumbering lung growth in children, soot has been associated higher rates of asthma, and even crib death.

What would the new Soot Standards actually do? These standards would likely tighten the allowable limit of fine particles in the air from an annual average of 15 micrograms per cubic meter to 12 or 13 micrograms per cubic meter. The EPA plans to finalize the Soot Standards by December 14, 2012.

How strong do we want the new Soot Standards? Strong! Public health advocates like the American Lung Association recommend that the EPA set standards for fine particles at the lowest end of its proposed range of options - at 11 micrograms per cubic meter, rather than at 12 or 13.

Who doesn't like the new Soot Standards? Pro-pollution industry lobbyists, who don’t want to see the standards, or industry, changed at all. But the positive health outcomes (depending on what the final standards are) could be worth as much as $5.9 billion! Every dollar spent on pollution controls would bring $30 to $86 dollars in health benefits.

The EPA is now taking public comments that will be used to determine the final standards. Our voices will be critical in this comment process to help drown out the specious arguments of pro-polluters!

Please help the EPA prioritize the needs of moms and families over those of industry by signing MomsRising's petition urging the EPA to finalize the new Soot Standards as soon as possible, with the lowest possible limit on soot of 11 micrograms per cubic meter in order to clean up our air.

Summer should always be about playing outdoors! Help us keep it that way. Tell your friends about soot and urgue them to sign on to the petition too by forwarding this post or sharing it on Facebook and Twitter.

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