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Release Date: 7/11/1996
Contact Information: Bill Glenn, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1589

   (San Francisco) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) will hold public meetings in downtown Los Angeles on Friday, July 19, 1996, to kick off a public consultation on the best strategies for reducing Southern California air pollution from trucks, buses, trains, planes, and ships.

     The meetings will also include discussion of U.S. EPA's recently proposed national standards to cut emissions from new heavy-duty truck and bus engines.  These requirements for cleaner engines represent one of many U.S. EPA programs that benefit air quality in California and across the country.  Additional federal, state and local measures that may result from the public consultative process beginning July 19 will also help reduce smog- causing emissions in the South Coast basin, home of the nation's unhealthiest air.

     Members of the public are invited to attend either of two meetings on July 19:

     Time:           2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
     Place:         Malibu Room
                Hyatt Regency
                711 South Hope St.
                Los Angeles

     U.S. EPA created the yearlong consultative process in March 1996 as part of its proposed approval of California's plans for meeting national health standards for ozone -- the main ingredient in smog.  Representatives of industry, environmental groups, and state and local governments will work together during this process to find the best solutions for reducing pollution related to wide-traveling sources such as jet airliners and ships.  A series of public meetings and informal workshops will be held through June 1997 as part of this process to foster discussion and agreement on how to cut pollution from these types of sources in the South Coast.

     U.S. EPA has already issued or is in the process of issuing stringent national controls on most categories of mobile pollution sources, including heavy-duty trucks and buses; construction, farm, and lawn and garden equipment; pleasure craft; some categories of marine vessels; and locomotives.  Along with state and local measures contained in California's clean air plans, these new national standards will contribute to cleaner, healthier air for the South Coast and other areas of California.  However, the state's ozone plan shows the need for further reductions in the South Coast if the health standard is to be met by 2010.

     Under the Clean Air Act, states with unhealthful air quality are required to submit plans demonstrating how health standards for ground-level ozone, or smog, will be met by the deadlines set forth in the law.  Ground-level ozone causes health problems by damaging lung tissue and sensitizing the lungs to other irritants.  Studies show that regular exposure to ozone at concentrations found in many heavily populated areas of California can significantly reduce lung function in normal, healthy people during periods of moderate exercise.  People with asthma, the elderly, and children are especially at risk.

     Although California's air quality has improved markedly in recent years, it remains the worst in the nation.  More than three-quarters of all Californians are currently exposed to health-threatening levels of air pollution, and the South Coast air basin exceeded national health standards for smog on 98 days in 1995.

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