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Central Valley, LA Basin and San Diego exceed new EPA air quality standard

Release Date: 12/17/2004
Contact Information: Lisa Fasano (415) 947-4307

     SAN FRANCISCO   Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designated areas throughout the nation as out of attainment with the agency's first ever fine particulate air quality standard aimed at reducing very fine air particles from the air that exacerbate respiratory and cardiovascular problems.

    In California the San Joaquin Valley, greater Los Angeles air basin and the San Diego area were designated out of attainment with particulate matter, known as PM2.5, the new protective health based standard.


     "Today we are setting a higher air quality standard for the nation," said Wayne Nastri, the EPA's regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest region.  "Three  regions throughout California do not meet the new standard.  As the Central Valley, Los Angeles air basin and San Diego areas make plans to reduce PM2.5, those efforts will help reduce area ozone pollution as well."

    States with nonattainment areas must submit plans by early 2008 that outline how they will meet the PM2.5 standards.  They are expected to attain clean air as soon as possible an not later than 2010.  The EPA can grant one five-year extension for areas with more severe problems.  The attainment date for those areas would be 2015.


    The EPA reviewed three years of state air quality data in finalizing today's designations.  Regions out of attainment with the new standard will have three years to develop a clean air plan demonstrating how the area will improve air quality by the deadline.


    PM2.5 is made up of very fine particles of sulfates, nitrates and carbon compounds that can lodge deeply into the lungs causing a myriad of respiratory health problems.  The particles can be emitted directly from smoke or fire or can form from certain chemical reactions in the air.  Those chemicals come from a variety of sources, including cars, trucks, buses, construction equipment, industrial facilities and power plants.


     PM2.5 is made up of very fine particles of sulfates, nitrates and carbon compounds that can lodge deeply into the lungs causing a myriad of respiratory health problems.  The particles can be emitted directly from smoke or fire or can form from certain chemical reactions in the air.  Those chemicals come from a variety of sources, including cars, trucks, buses, construction equipment, industrial facilities and power plants.
 
    PM2.5 can be present all year.  Unlike ozone, there is no consistent nationwide "season" for particle pollution and PM levels can be elevated year-round.  In California, PM2.5 tends to be higher in the fall and winter because nitrates form better in cooler weather and increased use of wood stoves and fireplaces produces more carbon.


     For more information go to:  http://www.epa.gov/region09/air/pm25-story.html
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