Attorney General Maura Healey has joined her colleagues in other states to sue the Trump administration for its alleged failure to curb air pollution.

The lawsuit filed by 17 attorneys general and the City of New York has to do with very fine particles known as PM2.5. Under the Clean Air Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is required to set standards for air pollutants, including fine particulate matter, at a level that protects public health and welfare.

On December 7, the EPA announced it would retain existing standards for fine and coarse particulate matter for the next 5 years.

Science shows that microscopic PM2.5 pollutants are linked to asthma, chronic bronchitis, lung cancer, cognitive impairment, and dementia, the lawsuit states. PM2.5 concentrations are highest in Black and Latino communities, and it's estimated that PM2.5 pollution kills up to 45,000 people every year nationwide, according to the complaint. The lawsuit says fine particle pollution is the largest environmental health risk factor in the country, and that increased exposure is linked to higher death rates of COVID-19.

“Failure to strengthen pollution standards will only exacerbate public health inequities as people in our Black, Brown, and immigrant communities are dying from COVID-19 at disproportionate rates,” Healey said on Wednesday. “We will never stop fighting for better air quality and we will hold President Trump accountable for trying to sabotage the health of our residents on his way out the door.”

Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA must periodically review its air pollution standards and revise them if new information shows they are inadequate. Since EPA’s last review in 2012, new studies have made clear that exposure to particulate matter causes grave health risks, Healey's office said.

Healey and other attorneys general in June argued that the EPA conducted a flawed and biased review of the current standards for PM2.5.

Joining Healey in filing the lawsuit are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin, as well as the City of New York, the California Air Resources Board, and the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

AG Healey and others also sued the EPA over its failure to control upwind state emissions of ozone pollution. Ground-level ozone is commonly referred to as smog. It is acknowledged as a dangerous pollutant that causes or aggravates health problems including lung and heart disease.

Special Assistant AG Megan Herzog of Healey’s Environmental Protection Division is handling the NAAQS particulate matter lawsuit for Massachusetts. Special Assistant AG David Frankel and Assistant AG Carol Iancu are handling the lawsuit challenging the delay in implementing existing standards for ozone pollution, Healey's office said.

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