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U.S. EPA FINALIZES CLEAN AIR ACTION IN SAN JOAQUIN VALLEY

Release Date: 7/16/2002
Contact Information: Lisa Fasano, U.S. EPA, (415) 947-4307

     Valley failed to attain health standards
     
     SAN FRANCISCO - Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency completed the necessary steps to call for a new, strict air quality plan for the San Joaquin Valley that will address the area's ongoing serious particulate matter (PM-10) problem.

     In February, EPA proposed that the region failed to attain federal clean air standards for PM-10 by the December 31, 2001 deadline.  

     Today the agency is finalizing the "Failure to Attain" finding, which sets a deadline of December 31, 2002 for a new air quality plan.  This plan must include the best control measures available and reduce particulate matter pollutants by 5% per year until the area attains.  As a result of prior EPA findings,  the San Joaquin area is also subject to potential sanctions in 2003 and a federal air quality plan in 2004.  The area will avoid these consequences if EPA approves the plan that is due at the end of this year.

     "We are very concerned with the serious health impacts of San Joaquin air pollution," said Jack Broadbent, the EPA's air division director for the Pacific Southwest.  "We will continue working closely with the state and air district, taking the needed steps to achieve clean air."

     National health standards for pollutants that threaten public health and the environment are set by the EPA as mandated by the Clean Air Act.  When an area violates a health-based standard, the Clean Air Act  requires the area to be designated as a non-attainment area for that pollutant. The San Joaquin Valley, from Stockton to south of Bakersfield, has been designated non-attainment for particulate matter since before the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.

     The San Joaquin Valley has three of the state's worst 15 violating air monitors.  Over the last few years, Fresno and Bakersfield have recorded PM-10 concentrations 30-35% above the federal health standard.

     The sources of  particulate matter pollution in the San Joaquin Valley include both dust-type sources, such as road dust kicked up by vehicle traffic and dust from disturbed areas, and sources that emit PM-10 forming pollutants, such as mobile source fuel combustion and manufacturing facilities.
 
     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.

     Information on today's action will be available at: http://www.epa.gov/region09/air/sjvalleypm

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