Coweta re-designated as 'nonattainment' for air pollutionFrom Staff Reports
The U.S. Environmental Protection Division has re-designated Coweta, and 14 other Georgia counties, as “reviewed” areas for ground level ozone pollution.
The re-designation comes just a few short months after the region was officially declared “in attainment” of the ozone air quality standard.
As of Tuesday, the EPA now uses the 2008 standard of 0.75 parts per billion. The EPA released a long list of counties throughout the country that are nonattainment for ozone.
The Georgia counties are considered “marginal” when it comes to nonattainment. Some counties in other states are listed as moderate, severe, or, in the case of Los Angeles and California’s San Joaquin Valley, extreme.
“This more stringent standard better protects public health,” said Chris Glazier, spokesman for Georgia’s The Clean Air Campaign.
All of the nonattainment counties are in the metro-Atlanta area.
The metro-Atlanta area officially reached attainment early this year, said Brian Carr, communications director for The Clean Air Campaign. Not all metro-counties failed under the new standard.
“There are some places that have cause to celebrate,” Carr said. “Where as it is 15 counties today, in the past it would have been greater than 20.”
“Progress is being made,” Carr said.
The ozone standard is set to be revisited in 2013. Under the Clean Air Act, the standard has to be reviewed every five years, Carr said.
Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division has already been using the 2008 ozone standard in forecasting Smog Alerts and reporting when areas in the state have bad air days, “so no significant increase in Smog Alerts or ozone violations is expected,” Glazier said.
“We still have work to do to clean our air,” Glazier said. “In metro-Atlanta, vehicle emissions account for almost 50 percent of smog-forming emissions.
“Since this is also Air Quality Awareness Week in Georgia, now is the perfect time for commuters and employers to consider finding a better way to work,” Glazier said.
The Clean Air Campaign works with Georgia employers, commuters, and schools to encourage “clean commuting” and other air-friendly actions. The organization also distributes smog alerts.
The announcement coincides with the start of “smog season,” which began May 1. That is also when the annual burn ban went into effect.
Most outdoor burning is prohibited during the burn ban. Only recreational fires, such as camp fires, are allowed.
There are also some exceptions for specific agricultural burning, such as burning stubble off of fields.