Attainment Status for Air Quality Standard Changes for Some Areas After EPA Releases Final Determination
Some areas were reclassified as “Severe” and others as “Moderate.”
- By Alex Saurman
- Sep 23, 2022
Some communities are being reclassified for their air quality progress, the EPA announced, potentially leading to required improvements.
According to a news release, ground-level ozone, or smog, levels in areas must adhere to the 2008 or 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). Through the evaluation of data, the EPA reclassified six “Serious” nonattainment areas, defined as an “area that does not meet the national primary or secondary ambient air quality standard for a NAAQS,” under the 2008 NAAQS and 28 “Marginal” nonattainment areas under the 2015 NAAQS. Final determinations were announced this week.
Five of the areas deemed “Serious” were reclassified as “Severe,” and one was deemed attained, meaning the area “meets the national primary or secondary ambient air quality standard for a NAAQS,” according to the EPA.
Twenty-two “Marginal’ areas were reclassified as “Moderate,” and five were attained. The EPA also extended the date for one area.
The reclassifications mean these areas are required to make changes to “protect public health,” the EPA says. If areas are still classified as nonattained, plans must be submitted on changes that will lead to a different status.
“These determinations are an important step in ensuring that communities across the country have the clean, healthy air quality they deserve, and that areas of the country that are not currently achieving these health-based standards take steps required by law to reduce ozone pollution,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan in the news release. “We will continue to work with our state partners to track air quality, reduce air pollution, protect public health and ensure clean air for all.”
Ground-level ozone, the reaction between sunlight and pollutants from “cars, power plants, a wide range of industries, and other sources,” can cause health problems for humans. Besides a sore throat, exposure to ground-level ozone can make it easier to catch lung infections, irritate other lung diseases and cause asthma attacks, according to the EPA.
Alex Saurman is the Content Editor for Environmental Protection.