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STATEMENT OF JOHN P. DeVILLARS ADMINISTRATOR, EPA'S NEW ENGLAND OFFICE ON EPA'S NEW PROPOSED TIGHTER AIR QUALITY STANDARDS TO PROTECT PUBLIC HEALTH
Release Date: 11/27/1996
Contact Information: Alice Kaufman, EPA Press Office, (617) 918-1064
In Washington, D.C. today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Carol Browner proposed stricter air quality standards for ground-level ozone (a component of smog) and fine particulate matter (airborne particles) making them more protective of public health. The new proposed ozone standard of 0.08 parts per million (ppm) averaged over eight hours may have impacts throughout New England. EPA's proposed changes for fine particlate matter lowers the size of particles that are currently regulated -- to 2.5 microns from 10 microns. By comparison, a human hair is about 70 microns.
Using ozone monitoring data for the years 1993 through 1995, EPA analysis shows that the current "nonattainment" areas for New England, which include all of Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, parts of southern New Hampshire and southern Maine, would have ozone levels above the new standard. The Knox and Lincoln counties nonattainment area in Maine is the only area in New England that meets the current standard, but that would violate the tighter proposed ozone standard.
New Englanders have made much progress these past few years. Tighter automobile tailpipe standards, cleaner gasoline, pollution controls on factories and power plants, and vapor recovery equipment on gasoline nozzles at service stations, are all making a difference. In our fight for cleaner air, we cannot afford to backslide from these efforts.
In addition, important regional and national efforts will help New England meet the tighter standards. These include technologies to reduce pollution from new motorboats and heavy-duty trucks and buses, and strategies to further reduce emissions from power plants.
New scientific data show that exposure to ozone at levels lower than the current 0.12 ppm standard can have serious health impacts on children and others who spend many hours out of doors. Other studies have consistently found that exposure to tiny airborne particles can result in premature deaths -- as many as 2,500 per year in New England -- particularly among the elderly and individuals with respiratory problems or heart disease.
EPA will be holding public hearings and taking comment on the proposed standards and is expected to issue its final decision by June 1997.