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Release Date: 7/29/1996
Contact Information: Dave Schmidt, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1578

     (San Francisco)--  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) today announced that it has reclassified the Phoenix area's carbon monoxide air pollution status from "moderate" to "serious," under the federal Clean Air Act, since the area failed to meet last year's deadline for attaining the federal health standard.  

     This change to the area's status does not indicate that carbon monoxide pollution is worsening, but does give the state and local governments extra time to develop additional anti- pollution measures and to reach the clean air standard. Over the past 10 years, the Phoenix area has actually seen a substantial drop in carbon monoxide levels, but this improvement was insufficient to meet the health standard.

      The reclassification of the Phoenix area from "moderate" to "serious" for carbon monoxide air pollution, as required by the Clean Air Act, allows state and local governments 18 months to develop a new plan to reduce this pollutant.  
     U.S. EPA recognizes that planning and implementation of clean air measures is best done at the state and local level.  Under the Clean Air Act, state and local governments choose their own measures to achieve the national health standards.  The state and local agencies are already working with the business community, Phoenix area residents, and U.S. EPA to develop plans that will meet these clean air goals.  

     In a related action on May 7, U.S. EPA finalized the reclassification of the Phoenix area's particulate pollution status from "moderate" to "serious," thus triggering a requirement for a new plan to reduce that pollutant.
     Today's action is a significant step toward reaching the
following clean air goals:  

November 1997:     New particulate reduction plan required

Late January 1998: New carbon monoxide reduction plan required

December 31, 2000:   New deadline for meeting federal health      
                      standard for carbon monoxide

December 31, 2001:   New deadline for meeting federal health    
                      standard for particulate pollution

     Carbon monoxide, an odorless but highly toxic gas emitted in motor vehicle exhaust, reduces the ability of blood to carry oxygen.  It harms the nervous system, and is particularly hazardous to people with heart, circulatory, lung, or breathing problems.  Particulates, which are airborne particles of dust, smoke, and soot, cause nose and throat irritation, lung damage, and bronchitis.    

     U.S. EPA encourages the involvement and participation of local governments, the business community, and area residents in planning local clean air measures.  

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