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EPA FINALIZES IMPERIAL COUNTY AIR QUALITY RATING FOR DUST AS A MODERATE NONATTAINMENT AREA

Release Date: 10/10/2001
Contact Information: Wendy L. Chavez, Press Office, 415/744-1588

     Imperial County Avoids Reclassification To Serious
                                             
     SAN FRANCISCO   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced yesterday it has finalized its finding that Imperial County will remain a moderate PM10 nonattainment area and avoid a reclassification to serious.

     Imperial County has met the 1994 federal Clean Air Act deadline for particulate matter, or dust, based on a County demonstration that the area would have attained air quality standards but for the emissions from Mexico.  Because Imperial County continues to be a moderate PM10 nonattainment area, the State must submit an improved moderate area dust control plan for the agency's approval.  The County has a plan currently out for review.

     Particulate matter affects the respiratory system and can cause damage to lung tissue and premature death. The elderly, children, and people with chronic lung disease, influenza, or asthma are especially sensitive to high levels of particulate matter.

     The primary cause of particulate matter in Imperial County is wind blown dust from unpaved and paved roads, disturbed vacant lands, agricultural fields, and border activities.

     The Clean Air Act has special provisions for areas which can demonstrate they are impacted by non-U.S. emissions.  The EPA is continuing to work with international, state, and local agencies to look for regional solutions to air quality problems along the U.S.-Mexico border.  

     Today's final action is, in part, a response to a lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club, seeking to compel EPA to determine whether certain nonattainment areas, including Imperial County, had attained the PM-10 federal air quality standards.
                                   

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