EPA Approves Redesignation of Atlanta Area to Attainment for Ozone Pollution

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By Glynn Wilson

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is taking final action to approve the state of Georgia’s request to redesignate the Atlanta metro area to attainment of the 1997 8-hour ozone standard based on air quality monitoring data for the three-year period of 2008-2010 showing the area in compliance with the 16-year-old standard.

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“This is a great accomplishment for the Atlanta area, a product of strong collaboration among government, the business community, environmental organizations and ordinary citizens,” acting EPA Regional Administrator Stan Meiburg said in the announcement. “Together with our partners at the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, we look forward to continued progress in improving Atlanta’s air quality.”

The Atlanta area has made significant progress in improving air quality, according to EPA.

“This progress is a result of hard work and great cooperation among local, state and federal agencies, private partners and the over four million Georgians who live and work in the Atlanta area,” Meiburg said.

The Atlanta area impacted by this proposed action includes 20 counties, including 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 (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) 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 NOx and VOC.

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.

More information on the Atlanta area proposed 1997 8-hour ozone redesignation can be found under docket number EPA-R04-OAR-2012-0986 at Regulations.Gov.

© 2013, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.

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