The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) criticized what they believe is flawed and inconclusive science in an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Particulate Matter (i.e. dust).
The study was done as part of a required review of the coarse particulate matter standards.
“Coarse particulate matter is nothing more than the dust kicked up by cars or trucks traveling on dirt roads, a tractor tilling a field, or cattle moving around on dirt,” says Tamara Thies, NCBA’s Chief Environmental Council. “Studies do not show that rural dust is a health concern.”
In 2006, EPA set coarse particulate matter standard of 150 micrograms per cubic meter of air. When EPA began reviewing the NAAQS in 2008, they determined that the evidence of health effects from this level of coarse particulate matter was inconclusive.
In July 2009, however, EPA reinterpreted that inconclusive evidence and made use of a flawed study to suggest that there are adverse health effects from dust at levels that are ten times lower than the current standard.
“EPA is suggesting a level of 12 to 15 micrograms of dust per cubic meter of air,” says Thies. “That is below naturally occurring levels of dust throughout many Western states—including pristine National parks.”
If EPA were to set the air standards at this level, much of the country would be over the limit.
“Cattle producers are concerned about this because it would limit our ability to raise livestock, who kick up dust as they walk around,” Thies says. “But this issue goes well beyond agriculture. States would be required to impose extreme control requirements and limitations on many businesses to ensure that the standard is met.”
“We are urging EPA to reject this faulty study and refrain from setting an air quality standard for dust lower than naturally occurring levels, and effectively halting economic growth and development.”