EPA proposes to redesignate Atlanta area to attainment for ozone

From the Environmental Protection Agency
Special to The Newnan Times-Herald
ATLANTA – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it has proposed to approve the state of Georgia’s request to redesignate the Atlanta area to attainment of the 1997 8-hour ozone standard.
The proposal to approve is based on air quality monitoring data for the three-year period of 2008, 2009, and 2010 that meets the standard. The area continues to attain this standard.
“Today, we commend local and state officials, who have been working collaboratively with us to reach this milestone,” said EPA Regional Administrator Gwen Keyes Fleming.  “We look forward to building on this progress, as we continue efforts to improve air quality and protect public health.”
The Atlanta area 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 over four million Georgians who live and work in the Atlanta area. 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 (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.
Today, EPA also opened up a 30-day public comment period for the proposed redesignation.  For more information on the Atlanta area proposed 1997 8-hour ozone redesignation, visit docket number EPA-R04-OAR-2012-0986 at www.regulations.gov .

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