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Arizona, Hawaii and Nevada meet new EPA air quality standard

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

     SAN FRANCISCO   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced the nation's first standard aimed at reducing very fine particles from the air that exacerbate respiratory and cardiovascular problems.

    Arizona, Hawaii, and Nevada, including tribal lands, attain the particulate matter standard, known as PM2.5, the new protective health based standard.

 
    "This is good news for residents of Arizona and Nevada," said Wayne Nastri, the EPA's regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest region.  "Meeting the PM2.5 standard shows how well both states are doing at curbing air pollution in their most populated cities."


     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, 1/30th the size of a human hair, 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.


    Because of their small size, fine particles can get deep into the lungs and bloodstream.  Scientific studies show links between exposure to these particles and a number of adverse health effects, including breathing problems and aggravation of asthma, chronic and acute bronchitis, irregular heartbeats and heart attacks, and even premature death in people with heart or lung disease.


     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.

    Many of the chemical pollution that causes ozone or smog contributes to PM2.5 pollution as well.  States and counties that continue to minimize ozone pollution will also minimize PM2.5 pollution.


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