Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it is taking final action to approve the state of Georgia’s request to re-designate metro Atlanta to attainment of the 1997 eight-hour ozone standard. This action is based on air quality monitoring data for the three-year period of 2008 through 2010 that meets the standard. The area continues to attain this standard.
“This is a great accomplishment for the Atlanta area, a product of strong collaboration among government, the business community, environmental organizations and ordinary citizens.” said Acting EPA Regional Administrator Stan Meiburg. “Together with our partners at the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, we look forward to continued progress in improving Atlanta’s air quality.”
Metro Atlanta has made significant progress in improving air quality. This progress is a result of hard work and great cooperation among local, state and federal agencies, private partners and the more than four million Georgians who live and work in metro Atlanta. The Atlanta area impacted by this proposed action includes the following 20 counties: Barrow, Bartow, Carroll, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Hall, Henry, Newton, Paulding, Rockdale, Spalding and Walton.
“All of metropolitan Atlanta can be proud of this major accomplishment. Everyone should be applauded, from citizens who keep their vehicles in good running condition to 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.”
Ground-level or “bad” ozone is not emitted directly into the air, but is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds in the presence of sunlight. Emissions from industrial facilities and electric utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors and chemical solvents are some of the major sources of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds. Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation and congestion. It can worsen bronchitis, emphysema and asthma. Ground-level ozone also can reduce lung function and inflame the linings of the lungs. Repeated exposure may permanently scar lung tissue.
Information: visit www.regulations.gov and type in docket number EPA-R04-OAR-2012-0986.