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PA EPA RETAINS NITROGEN DIOXIDE STANDARD

Release Date: 10/4/96
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PA EPA RETAINS NITROGEN DIOXIDE STANDARD

FOR RELEASE: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 4, 1996

EPA RETAINS NITROGEN DIOXIDE STANDARD

EPA today announced a final decision that, based on the latest scientific evidence, revisions to the existing national ambient (atmospheric) air quality standards (NAAQS) for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are not appropriate at this time. The Agency has concluded that the current standards are adequate to protect public health and the environment from the direct effects of NO2. The current NAAQS for NO2 will remain at 0.053 parts per million, measured as an annual average. NO2 belongs to a family of highly reactive gases that form when fuel is burned at high temperatures and that are emitted primarily from motor vehicle exhaust and power plants. Although no areas of the country have violated the NO2 NAAQS for the past three years, EPA remains concerned about emissions of this gas, which can contribute to other environmental problems, such as ground-level ozone (smog) and acid rain. To combat these emissions, EPA has already: 1) introduced tighter tailpipe emission standards for 1994-96 cars (and is currently developing regulations in partnership with California and heavy-duty engine manufacturers to cut emissions from buses and trucks); 2) required stringent controls on large NO2 sources, such as power plants, in areas failing to meet smog standards; and 3) finalized acid rain rules for coal-fired utility boilers that will slash NO2 emissions 1.2 million tons annually by the year 2000. In addition, the Ozone Transport Commission (made up of 11 northeastern states and Washington, D.C.) signed a memorandum of understanding in 1994 to reduce NO2 emission levels up to 75 percent by the year 2003. The Clean Air Act requires that EPA review the criteria upon which the NAAQS are based every five years and decide whether revisions are appropriate. EPA currently sets NAAQS for six pollutants, including NO2, smog, particulate matter (dust, dirt, smoke), lead, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide. Today's action will appear soon in the Federal Register and will also be computer-accessible through EPA's electronic bulletin board system, the Technology Transfer Network (TTN) at 919-541-5742 (backup number for access problems is 919-541-5384). The notice will appear on the TTN's Clean Air Act Amendments Bulletin Board under "Recently Signed Rules." For further technical information on the decision, contact Chebryll Edwards of EPA's Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards at 919-541-5428.

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