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U.S. EPA proposes nonattainment areas under new federal air quality standard

Release Date: 6/29/2004
Contact Information: Lisa Fasano (415) 947-4307 Cell: (415) 760-5421

PM 2.5 nonattainment area's in CA include Central Valley, LA Basin and San Diego County

SAN FRANCISCO - Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notified California air quality officials that three of the states air basins do not attain the new fine particulate matter air quality standard, called PM 2.5.

The San Joaquin Valley, South Coast Air Basin and San Diego County all exceed the new more protective health based air quality standard.

"Today's proposed designations are the first step towards this new air quality standard, which will work to bring cleaner air to California," said Wayne Nastri, EPA's regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest region. "Removing fine particulates from the air and our lungs will prolong the lives of thousands of Californians."

The EPA issued responses this week to state and tribal recommendations that were sent in February of this year for areas that will be designated as meeting the minimum attainment standards for fine particulates called PM 2.5. The EPA concurred with recommendations made by Governor Schwarzenegger that the San Joaquin Valley, greater Los Angeles South Coast air basin and San Diego County fail to attain the new proposed air quality standard.

Final designations will be announced in November.

The EPA issued the PM 2.5 standards in 1997 after years of scientific study. Litigation of the new standard was settled last year and the agency is now moving forward its implementation.

PM 2.5 is made up of tiny particles - 1/30th the size of a human hair - which can lodge deep into the lungs. Serious health impacts are linked to fine particulate pollution including premature death from heart and lung disease, increased hospital admissions and doctor and ER visits and absences from work and school. Those with respiratory problems, asthma, the elderly and children are most affected by particulate pollution.