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PM 2.5 designations announced today / 29 Calif. counties impacted by more protective fine particle standard

Release Date: 12/22/2008
Contact Information: Margot Perez-Sullivan, 415.947.4149, perezsullivan.margot@epa.gov

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that 29 counties in California are impacted by the latest air quality standard for fine particle matter, also known as PM 2.5

The EPA is required to designate regions with air quality below the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, along with areas that contribute to the poor air quality in these regions, as nonattainment areas. The agency based this determination on recommendations from the state, monitoring data and technical analyses showing areas that potentially contribute to fine particle concentrations.

“We're taking this action because this type of air pollution--fine particulate matter--can cause significant health problems. The new, more protective level of air quality that EPA is requiring is needed to help the people of California breathe cleaner air,” said Deborah Jordan, Air division director for the U.S. EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “We will continue to work with state and local agencies to improve air quality throughout the state.”

The designations generally become effective 90 days after publication in the Federal Register. The state of California is required to submit a State Implementation Plan in April 2012 detailing how compliance with air quality standards will be achieved.

Fine particle pollution is one of the most pressing challenges to clean air today. When breathed in, this complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets can reach the deepest regions of the lungs and cause significant health problems. Fine particle pollution is also the main cause of visibility impairment national parks and cities nationwide.

In September 2006, the EPA strengthened the 24-hour fine particle standard from 65 to 35 micrograms per cubic meter. The 29 California counties impacted are among the 211 counties or parts of counties designated by the EPA as nonattainment.

The finding will be published in Federal Register within 2 weeks.

For more information on PM 2.5 designations, please go to: http://www.epa.gov/pmdesignations/2006standards/index.htm

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