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New Testing Finds Toxic Metal in Mouthpieces Used in Musical Instruments

For Immediate Release, March 26, 2018

Contact: Robert Ukeiley, Center for Biological Diversity, (720) 496-8568,
Caroline Cox, Center for Environmental Health, (510) 655-3900,

PHOENIX— Environmental groups sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today for failing to enforce air-quality standards designed to protect more than 7 million people in Arizona from harmful particulate pollution.

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco, where the EPA’s regional headquarters are located.

“It’s repulsive the Trump EPA is failing to protect millions of Americans from serious breathing and heart problems,” said Robert Ukeiley, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It shouldn’t take a lawsuit to force the EPA to enforce these lifesaving measures.”

There is no known safe level of fine particulate matter air pollution because even minute amounts can lead to death and disease. Particulate matter pollution refers to tiny airborne particles such as soot and smoke, which lodge deep in the lungs and profoundly harm human health. An EPA study found that Clean Air Act programs to reduce fine particle pollution and ozone pollution prevented more than 160,000 deaths, 130,000 heart attacks and 1.7 million asthma attacks in 2010 alone.

The particulate matter in Pinal County is particularly dangerous because much of it is caused by agricultural activities and cattle feedlots. Industrial livestock operators often dispose of large quantities of animal waste by spraying it into the air, where it can spread antibiotics and dangerous antibiotic-resistant genes.

When a state falls behind in designing and implementing measures to protect public health, the Clean Air Act mandates that the EPA take action to force compliance.

“The law requires that the Trump administration act to limit soot and other harmful pollution from the air we breathe,” said Caroline Cox, research director at the Center for Environmental Health. “Every additional day of delay puts Americans at risk for deadly diseases. We’re taking Wheeler to court to ensure that EPA does its job.”

Almost 10 years ago the EPA determined that part of Pinal County had unlawful levels of particulate matter pollution. But the EPA has failed to ensure the air has been cleaned up.

The EPA has found that Arizona’s rules for issuing permits to power plants, refineries and other large industrial facilities are inadequate to protect the environment and public health.


The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 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.