Existing clean air standards were found to be deficient in a federal appeals court ruling on Tuesday, February 24. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must now review and reconsider their 2006 decision on the national air quality standards for particulate matter, such as soot, smoke and other particle pollutants, linked to illness and premature death. The American Lung Association (ALA) considers this a critical legal victory for cleaner, healthier air across the country.

The Clean Air Act (passed in 1990) requires the EPA to set standards at levels that protect public health based on current science. The ALA and others challenged the EPA’s 2006 decision, citing that science clearly showed the standards set that year failed to adequately protect public health.

“Strong, protective national air quality standards are fundamental for healthy air,” says Stephen J. Nolan, ALA national board chair. “Today’s triumph will save countless lives and is an important step forward in the American Lung Association’s continued work to fight for air.”