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EPA Approves Redesignation of Charlotte Area to Attainment for Ozone

Release Date: 12/02/2013
Contact Information: Dawn Harris Young, (404) 562-8421 (Direct), (404) 562-8400 (Main), harris-young.dawn@epa.gov

ATLANTA – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it is taking final action to approve the state of North Carolina’s request to redesignate the Charlotte area to attainment of the 1997 8-hour ozone standard. This action is based on air quality monitoring data for the three-year period of 2008, 2009, and 2010 that meets the standard. The area continues to attain this standard. On December 26, 2012, EPA took final action on the South Carolina portion of the Charlotte Area.

“We commend the hard work of state and local officials to implement the control measures needed to reduce ozone pollution and improve Charlotte’s air quality,” said Acting EPA Regional Administrator Stan Meiburg. “We will continue to work with state and local agencies to improve air quality and protect public health.”

The Charlotte area has made significant progress in improving air quality. This progress is a result of hard work and great cooperation among local, state and federal agencies, private partners and the over two million North Carolinians who live and work in the Charlotte area. The Charlotte area impacted by this action includes the following 6 full counties and 1 partial county: Cabarrus, Gaston, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Rowan, Union and a portion of Iredell.

“The redesignation of the Charlotte area represents a successful collaboration of all levels of government, business and industry partners, and the citizens of the region,” said N.C. Governor Pat McCrory, who worked on the issue extensively as mayor of Charlotte from 1995-2009. “It is a big step for economic development in the region and, more importantly, it means that all who live in and near Charlotte are breathing cleaner air.”

Ground level or "bad" ozone is not emitted directly into the air, but is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight. Emissions from industrial facilities and electric utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents are some of the major sources of NOx and VOC. Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation, and congestion. It can worsen bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma. Ground level ozone also can reduce lung function and inflame the linings of the lungs. Repeated exposure may permanently scar lung tissue.

For more information on the Charlotte area proposed 1997 8-hour ozone redesignation, visit docket number EPA–R04–OAR–2013–0129 at www.regulations.gov.

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