New York, New York – A coalition of eleven U.S. states has filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding national air quality standards regarding soot, which is produced by diesel trucks and power plants.

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed the suit to compel the EPA to promptly revise the standards. The coalition took legal action after the EPA failed to meet an October 2011 deadline for revising the existing lax standards.

“Clean air is a public right, and standards that protect it are a necessity,” Schneiderman said. “Every day, air pollution from soot risks the health of more than one-third of Americans, including our most vulnerable – children, the elderly and the sick. The risks are simply unacceptable. The EPA must take prompt action to reduce pollution now, and safeguard the health of the public and the air we breathe.”

Soot, also known as fine particulate matter pollution, is prevalent in urban areas. Tiny particles of soot evade the body’s defense mechanisms and collect deep within the lungs, where they are absorbed into the bloodstream. Breathing it increases the risk of early death, heart attacks, strokes and emergency room visits, especially for people with asthma, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The states involved are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

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