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EPA Approves Redesignation of Atlanta Area to Attainment for the 1997 Annual Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) Standard

Release Date: 02/24/2016
Contact Information: Dawn Harris Young, EPA, (404) 562-8421 (Direct), (404) 562-8400 (Main), harris-young.dawn@epa.gov

ATLANTA – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it is taking final action to approve the state of Georgia’s request to redesignate the Atlanta Area to attainment for the 1997 Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) standard. This final action takes three separate final actions to (1) determine that the Atlanta Area is attaining the 1997 Annual PM2.5 standard, (2) approve the State of Georgia’s plan for maintaining the standard for 10 years following the final action, and (3) redesignate the Atlanta Area to attainment for the 1997 Annual PM2.5 standard.

"We commend the Atlanta area for the effort it has undertaken to improve air quality and reach this achievement," said EPA Regional Administrator Heather McTeer Toney. “We look forward to working with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, as we continue efforts to improve Atlanta’s air quality and protect public health.”

For over 10 years, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division has worked collaboratively with EPA and other stakeholders to develop strategies for achieving and maintaining compliance with PM2.5 standards. The Atlanta Area is comprised of twenty whole counties, including Barrow, Bartow, Carroll, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Hall, Henry, Newton, Paulding, Rockdale, Spalding, and Walton, and portions of Heard and Putnam Counties. The Area has reached a significant milestone by attaining the 1997 Annual PM2.5 standard in the midst of significant population growth.

“All of metropolitan Atlanta should be applauded; from citizens who keep their vehicles in good running condition to low emissions school buses and industries and power plants that have invested in improved emission controls,” said Judson H. Turner, Director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. “It has taken many years, but the results are cleaner air and a healthier place to live and work.”

Particulate Matter is a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets. Particle pollution is made up of a number of components, including acids (such as nitrates and sulfates), organic chemicals, metals, and soil or dust particles. The size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. EPA is particularly concerned about particles that are 10 micrometers in diameter or smaller because those are the particles that generally pass through the throat and nose and enter the lungs. Once inhaled, these particles can affect the heart and lungs and cause serious health effects.

For more information on the Atlanta Area final 1997 Annual Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) redesignation, visit docket number EPA-R04-OAR-2013-0084 at www.regulations.gov.

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