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State of California working with U.S. EPA to meet federal 1-hour ozone standard in the San Joaquin Valley air basin

Release Date: 10/07/2008
Contact Information: Mary Simms, (415) 947-4270,

U.S. EPA proposing to approve California’s plan – area would meet federal health standard by 2010

(10/7/2008 -- SAN FRANCISCO) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to approve California’s plan for the San Joaquin Valley to attain the federal 1-hour ozone health standard.

Under the Clean Air Act, the San Joaquin Valley is classified as an extreme area which must attain the 1-hour ozone standard by the end of 2010. Although the EPA has adopted a more stringent 8-hour ozone regulatory standard, areas still exceeding the 1-hour ozone standard, such as the San Joaquin Valley, must continue their efforts to meet the 1-hour standard. The EPA was challenged for not acting on the 1-hour plans, and agreed that it was obligated to act.

“The EPA revoked the 1-hour standard in 2005 in favor of the more protective 8-hour standard, and that's where we've been focusing our resources,” said Kerry Drake, associate director of the Air Division for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. "The good news is that by reducing emissions to meet the new standard, the old standard will also be met."

The plan, prepared by the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District, shows that the area will have in place the controls necessary to meet the federal health standard by 2010. These controls, most of which are have already been adopted, cover the broad range of pollution sources located in the valley and represent a joint effort by the district and the state.

The EPA encourages public comment on this proposed approval. Comments will be accepted for 30 days after the proposal is published in the Federal Register.

Ozone is a gas that occurs naturally in the upper atmosphere to protect earth from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. At ground level, ozone is created by a chemical reaction involving sunlight, high temperatures and pollutants such as car exhaust, oil and gas vapors, and paint and hairspray fumes.

Ozone pollution aggravates respiratory illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. Healthy people who are active outdoors on high ozone days may experience coughing, nasal congestion and itchy eyes.

Areas of the country where air pollution levels persistently exceed the national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) may be designated "nonattainment." To view a list of areas designated nonattainment please visit: