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Birmingham area meets 8-hour ozone standard

Release Date: 05/18/2006
Contact Information: Dawn Harris-Young, (404) 562-8421, harris-young.dawn@epa.gov

(ATLANTA – May 18, 2006) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it has granted final approval of Alabama’s redesignation request to reclassify the Birmingham nonattainment area to attainment for the 8-hour air standard for ozone (smog). Additionally, EPA is approving a maintenance plan for the Birmingham area which demonstrates how the state will maintain attainment of the ozone standard. This final rule was signed May 3, 2006, and is effective June 12, 2006.

“This redesignation reflects the improved air quality in the Birmingham area, which will help many people breathe easier,” said EPA Regional Administrator Jimmy Palmer.

The redesignation to attainment is based on air quality monitoring data for a three-year period (2003, 2004, and 2005), which indicates that the Birmingham area has attained the 8-hour air standard for ozone. The Birmingham area consists of Jefferson and Shelby counties.

Ground-level ozone is a primary component of smog. Smog is formed when a mixture of air pollutants are baked in the hot summer sun. These pollutants are released from sources such as cars and factories. Smog can cause a variety of respiratory problems, including coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest pain. These health effects are of concern to everyone, but asthmatics, children and the elderly are especially at risk.