Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | December 23, 2008

Environmental lawyer Sanders says U.S. EPA gives notice to Kentucky that nine counties do not meet the fine particulate standards under the Clean Air Act.

U.S. EPA notified Kentucky’s Division for Air Quality that nine Kentucky counties do not meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for 24-hour levels of fine particle pollution.  The Kentucky counties are: Boone, Campbell, Kenton, Boyd, Bullitt, Jefferson, McCracken, a portion of Lawrence and two portions of Muhlenberg.


Particle pollution, also called particulate matter or PM, is a complex mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets in the air. When breathed in, these particles can reach the deepest regions of the lungs. Exposure to particle pollution is linked to a variety of significant health problems, ranging from aggravated asthma to premature death in people with heart and lung disease. Particle pollution also is the main cause of visibility impairment in the nation’s cities and national parks.


The 2006 standards tighten the 24-hour fine particle standard from 65 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) to 35 µg/m3, and retain the current annual fine particle standard at 15 µg/m3.


PM2.5 is a criteria pollutant. EPA establishes national ambient air quality standards for each of the criteria pollutants. These standards apply to the concentration of a pollutant in outdoor air. If the air quality in a geographic area meets or is cleaner than the national standard, it is called an attainment area; areas that don’t meet the national standard are called nonattainment areas.


In order to improve air quality in a nonattainment area, Kentucky must develop a plan that outlines the measures that it will take in order to improve air quality in these nine counties.  Such a plan may impact industrial and economic development in these areas in the future.  So, EPA’s finding of non-conpliance is not  good for Kentucky, busineses already located in these nine counties, or those business seeking to locate industrial operations in any of the nine counties. Just as important, the finding is just plain BAD for everyone breathing air in these nine counties.


Once a nonattainment area meets the standards and additional redesignation requirements in the Clean Air Act [Section 107(d)(3)(E)], EPA will designate the area to attainment as a “maintenance area.”


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