Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, January 12, 2023


Ryan Maher, Center for Biological Diversity, (781) 325-6303,
Kaya Allan Sugerman, Center for Environmental Health, (510) 740-9384,

Lawsuit Challenges EPA’s Delay in Reducing Harmful Soot Pollution in California, Pennsylvania

OAKLAND, Calif.— Conservation and public health groups sued the Environmental Protection Agency today for failing to ensure that an effective plan is in place to reduce soot pollution in Los Angeles.

The Center for Biological Diversity and the Center for Environmental Health are also suing the EPA over the agency’s delayed decision on whether soot pollution in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, exceeds limits designed to protect human health.

If the pollution is still above the legal limit, the areas will need to introduce more stringent requirements to control soot. The EPA has previously determined that the areas covered in the lawsuit have soot pollution above the limit, at levels that cause significant health impacts.

“The EPA’s choice to put off addressing the dangerous soot pollution that is poisoning millions of people is immoral and illegal,” said Ryan Maher, an environmental health attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The EPA is not fulfilling its core Clean Air Act duties, and people and ecosystems are paying the price, leaving us no choice but to sue.”

Soot pollution, also called fine particulate matter, has life-threatening consequences. It penetrates deep into the lungs and into the bloodstream, causing premature deaths, cardiovascular illnesses and respiratory diseases, including asthma. Soot pollution is also linked to lung cancer. Even short-term exposures can aggravate lung disease and trigger asthma attacks.

“Millions of people in these areas are living with unsafe levels of soot pollution,” said Kaya Allan Sugerman, director of the Center for Environmental Health’s illegal toxic threats program. “These communities deserve clean air and immediate federal action.”

Soot pollution comes from a variety of sources, including burning fossil fuels and fracking. It also harms the environment. Soot particles can travel long distances and settle on the ground and in water, damaging forests and wildlands, contributing to acid rain and depleting nutrients in soil. Soot can also prevent solar panels from functioning properly.

Today’s lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Oakland. The lawsuit is part of the two groups’ ongoing work to compel the EPA to protect human health and the environment from soot pollution in accordance with the requirements of the Clean Air Act.

For more information about the fight against air pollution visit Protecting Air Quality Under the Clean Air Act.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

The Center for Environmental Health works with parents, communities, businesses, workers, and government to protect children and families from toxic chemicals in homes, workplaces, schools and neighborhoods.

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