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EPA changes fine particle designations for counties in Indiana and Ohio

Release Date: 4/05/2005
Contact Information:

CONTACT: William Omohundro, (312) 353-8254

For Immediate Release
No. 05-OPA035

CHICAGO (Apr. 05, 2005) — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that air monitoring data from 2002 through 2004 shows that two Indiana counties and five Ohio counties originally designated as not meeting the new, health-based outdoor air quality standard for fine particles (soot) are now meeting the standard and will be designated accordingly.

The Indiana counties are Elkhart and St. Joseph, and the Ohio counties are Lucas, Wood, Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull. In addition, EPA will be revising the designation for Delaware County in Indiana from unclassifiable to attainment of the standard.

Last December, EPA announced that 14 Indiana counties and parts of five other counties in the state did not meet the standard. The Agency said 28 Ohio counties and parts of four other counties in the state did not meet the standard.

When EPA made the December announcements, it made April 5 the date when the designations would become final. This gave states time to submit quality-assured data for counties that were close to meeting the standard. Data for the Elkhart-South Bend, Ind., and Toledo and Youngstown, Ohio, areas show that these areas are now meeting the standard. Therefore, EPA is taking action today to provide that nonattainment designations for these areas will not take effect and instead these areas will be designated attainment.

The standard is designed to protect the public from exposure to these tiny particles that are 2.5 microns or smaller, or about 1/30th the size of a human hair.

Fine particles have been associated with a range of serious adverse health effects, including aggravation of lung disease, asthma attacks and heart problems. EPA believes that airborne fine particles cause tens of thousands of premature deaths across the United States each year. In addition, exposure to fine particles results in tens of thousands of hospitalizations as well as millions of sick days and doctor visits.

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