Vermont achieves EPA air standard

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Vermont achieves EPA air standard

Thu, 12/16/2004 - 8:00pm -- tim

Vermont Achieves Attainment with the Fine Particle Air-Quality Standards
BOSTON - EPA analysis of air quality indicates that Vermont has ambient
concentrations of fine particles that meet current health standards.
Fine particles, frequently referred to as PM2.5, are less than 2.5
micrometers in diameter (approximately one-thirtieth the size of a human
hair). Fine particles are unhealthy to breathe and have been associated
with serious health impacts, including premature death from heart and lung
disease, aggravation of heart and lung diseases (including chronic
bronchitis and asthma), increased hospital admissions and doctor visits,
and absences from work and school. These particles are derived from a
variety of sources, including factories, power plants, trash incinerators,
motor vehicles, construction activity and fires. In addition, fine
particles are the major cause of reduced visibility (haze) in parts of the
United States, including many of our national parks.
â¬SWe can be proud that air quality in most of New England attains the
health-based Clean Air Fine Particle standards for fine-particle
pollution,⬝ said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPAâ¬"s New
England Office. "Even with this success, we need to ensure that standards
continue to be attained and that, especially in urban areas, we continue
efforts to reduce the amount of fine particles in the air that people
breathe."
Nationally, EPA is taking numerous actions to reduce pollution from fine
particles, including tougher emission limits for power plants in the
eastern U.S. and tougher tailpipe emission limits and cleaner fuels for
all cars, light-duty vehicles (including sport utility vehicles and
minivans) and diesel trucks, beginning this year. In May 2004, EPA issued
its Clean Air Nonroad Diesel Rule that will cut emission levels from
construction, agricultural and industrial diesel-powered equipment by more
than 90 percent.
Even though Vermont will not be required to develop plans to bring their
states into attainment with the standards, New England states will benefit
from programs in predominantly upwind states to reduce their fine-particle
levels. Some of the same pollutants that contribute to the formation of
fine particles also contribute to formation of ground-level ozone,
regional haze, and acid rain, all of which have serious environmental
consequences for New England.
With support from EPA, the six New England states currently operate a
network of over 100 monitors to measure fine particle concentration. This
network is needed to measure progress in maintaining standards, and to
provide real-time data so that EPA can alert the public when fine particle
concentrations are high in any area of the New England region. During
2004, EPA New England awarded $250,000 in operating funds and in-kind
services to Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for
operation of its fine particle monitors. For Vermont, EPAâ¬"s 2004 grant
funds are being used for operation and maintenance of 6 fine particle
monitoring sites, where the state operates filter-based samplers,
continuous monitors or speciation samplers.
EPA issued the fine particle standards in 1997 after evaluating hundreds
of health studies and conducting an extensive peer review process. The
annual standard is a level of 15 micrograms per cubic meter, based on the
3-year average of annual mean PM2.5 concentrations. The 24-hour standard
is a level of 65 micrograms per cubic meter, determined by the 3-year
average of the annual 98th percentile concentrations. Scientists, however,
have not identified any "bright line" at which fine particle levels are
not harmful to human health so it makes good sense for states to pursue
voluntary measures that further reduce fine particle levels.
EPA and states have adopted many measures to decrease sources of fine
particle pollution. These include measures addressing SO2 and NOx
emissions from power plants, as well as regulations affecting heavy-duty
diesel engines, highway vehicles, and other mobile sources that will
reduce emissions of NOx, direct PM2.5, SO2 and volatile organic compounds
(VOCs). Programs that states can pursue to reduce fine particle pollution
include retrofitting engines in school buses, diesel trucks, and off-road
vehicles; reducing sulfur levels in diesel and home-heating fuels,
increasing anti-idling efforts and vehicle opacity testing, better
enforcement of existing laws, and educational outreach.
For more information on today's announcement, visit:
www.epa.gov/region1/airquality/partic.htmlhttp://www.epa.gov/pmdesignati...
s/ . National information on EPAâ¬"s Clean Air Fine Particle standards is
available at: http://www.epa.gov/pmdesignations/ .
Release # dd-04-12 -14