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EPA Makes Decision to Designate Areas Not Meeting Standards for Fine Particle Pollution
Release Date: 12/22/2008
Contact Information: Cathy Milbourn, (202) 564-4355 /7849/ Milbourn.Cathy@epa.gov
(Washington, D.C. – Dec. 22, 2008) EPA has notified 25 governors and 23 tribal leaders that certain areas in their states and tribal lands do not meet the agency’s daily standards for fine particle pollution, also known as PM 2.5.
“These designations are an important step in our steady march toward cleaner air,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. “We will continue working with our state and tribal partners to meet these air quality standards.”
EPA closely reviewed recommendations from states and tribes along with public comments before making its decision to designate 211 counties and parts of counties as not meeting EPA’s PM 2.5 standards. These areas, called nonattainment areas, include counties with monitors violating the standards and nearby areas that contribute to that violation. Affected states and tribes will be required to take steps to reduce the pollution that forms fine particles. The vast majority of U.S. counties and tribal lands are meeting these standards, but will need to continue working to maintain clean air.
In 2006, EPA strengthened the 24-hour fine particle standards from 65 micrograms per cubic meter to 35 micrograms per cubic meter of air to protect public health. Nationwide, monitored levels of fine particle pollution fell 11 percent from 2000 to 2007. Fine particles can either be emitted directly, or they can form in the atmosphere from reactions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Exposure to fine particle pollution can cause a number of serious health problems including aggravated asthma, increased hospital admissions and emergency room visits for respiratory and cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and premature death.
More information on the designations: epa.gov/pmdesignations/2006standards/index.htm