EPA Strengthens Ozone Standards to Protect Public Health/Science-based standards to reduce sick days, asthma attacks, emergency room visits, greatly outweigh costs
Release Date: 10/1/2015
Contact Information: Enesta Jones, Jones.firstname.lastname@example.org,, 202-564-7873, 202-564-4355; En español: Lina Younes, email@example.com, 202-564-9924, 202-564-4355
WASHINGTON – Based on extensive scientific evidence on effects that ground-level ozone pollution, or smog, has on public health and welfare, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has strengthened the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone to 70 parts per billion (ppb) from 75 ppb to protect public health. The updated standards will reduce Americans’ exposure to ozone, improving public health protection, particularly for at risk groups including children, older adults, and people of all ages who have lung diseases such as asthma. Ground-level ozone forms when nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) react in the air.
“Put simply – ozone pollution means it hurts to breathe for those most vulnerable: our kids, our elderly and those suffering from heart and lung ailments,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Our job is to set science-backed standards that protect the health of the American people. Today’s action is one of the most important measures we can take for improving public health, reducing the costs of illness and protecting our children’s health.”
EPA examined nearly 2,300 studies in this review of the ozone standards including more than 1,000 new studies published since the last review of the standards in 2008. Scientific evidence shows that ozone can cause a number of harmful effects on the respiratory system, including difficulty breathing and inflammation of the airways. The revised standards will significantly improve public health protection, resulting in fewer premature deaths, and thousands fewer missed school and work days and asthma attacks. For people with lung diseases like COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or the 23 million Americans and 6 million children living with asthma, these effects can aggravate their diseases, leading to increased medication use, emergency room visits and hospital admissions. Evidence also indicates that long-term exposure to ozone is likely to be one of many causes of asthma development. And studies show that ozone exposure is likely to cause premature death. The public health benefits of the updated standards, estimated at $2.9 to $5.9 billion annually in 2025, outweigh the estimated annual costs of $1.4 billion.
Local communities, states, and the federal government have made substantial progress in reducing ground-level ozone. Nationally, from 1980 to 2014, average ozone levels have fallen 33 percent, while the economy has continued to grow. And by 2025, EPA projects that existing rules and programs will bring the vast majority of the remaining counties into compliance. Advances in pollution control technology for vehicles and industry along with other emission reduction standards, including “Tier 3” clean vehicle and fuels standards, the Clean Power Plan and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, will significantly cut smog-forming emissions, helping states meet today’s updated ozone standards.
To ensure that people are alerted when ozone reaches unhealthy levels, EPA is extending the ozone monitoring season for 32 states and the District of Columbia. This is particularly important for at-risk groups, including children and people with asthma because it will provide information so families can take steps to protect their health on smoggy days.
EPA also is strengthening the “secondary ozone standard” to 70 ppb, which will improve protection for trees, plants and ecosystems. New studies since the last review of the standards add to evidence showing that repeated exposure to ozone reduces growth and has other harmful effects on plants and trees. These types of effects have the potential to harm ecosystems and the benefits they provide.
The Clean Air Act provides states with time to meet the standards. Depending on the severity of their ozone problem, areas would have until between 2020 and 2037 to meet the standards.
The Clean Air Act requires EPA to review the ozone standards every five years to determine whether they should be revised in light of the latest science. Today’s action comes after a thorough review and public comment process. The agency received more than 430,000 written comments on the proposed standards and held three public hearings.
More information: http://www3.epa.gov/ozonepollution/
To view the video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6chlLb59zA
A proposal to revise the Guideline on Air Quality Models was signed by the Administrator on July 14, 2015. The rulemaking Proposal and Fact Sheet for this proposed rulemaking package are available through the 11th Conference on Air Quality Models informational website.
On July 14, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to update to its Guideline on Air Quality Models (Guideline). The Guideline, which was last updated in 2005, is used by the EPA, states, tribes, and industry to prepare and review permits for new sources of air pollution. State and tribal air agencies also use the Guideline to revise their plans detailing strategies for reducing emissions and improving air quality known as State or Tribal Implementation Plans.
The EPA is proposing enhancements to the scientific formulation of the preferred nearfield dispersion model, AERMOD, to address technical concerns expressed by the stakeholder community and improve model performance in its regulatory applications.
This proposed action also will streamline resources necessary to conduct regulatory modeling with AERMOD by incorporating model algorithms from the Buoyant Line and Point Source (BLP) model and replacing the model known as CALINE3 for mobile source applications including fine particle pollution (PM2.5, PM10), and carbon monoxide (CO) hot-spot analyses. The EPA is proposing this change based on evidence of a more scientifically sound basis for the use of AERMOD, improved model performance over CALINE3, and its ability to use more recent and representative meteorological input data.
To provide more flexibility and improve the meteorological inputs used for regulatory modeling, the EPA is proposing to allow the use of prognostic meteorological data in AERMOD where there is no representative National Weather Service (NWS) station, and it is prohibitive or not feasible to collect adequately representative site-specific data.
In January 2012, the EPA granted a Sierra Club petition requesting the EPA establish air quality models for ozone and PM2.5 for use by all major sources applying for a preconstruction,
Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit. In response, the EPA is proposing to revise the Guideline to incorporate current modeling techniques to address the secondary chemical formation of fine particle and ozone pollution from direct, single source emissions of pollutants that form them such as sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, volatile organic compounds.
For long-range air quality assessments, the EPA is proposing to remove CALPUFF as a preferred model and recommending its use as a screening technique along with other Lagrangian models for addressing PSD increment beyond 50 km from a new or modifying source. This proposed change does not affect the EPA’s recommendation in the 2005 BART Guidelines to use CALPUFF in the BART determination process.
These model enhancements and Guideline revisions would increase the efficiency and accuracy of regulatory modeling demonstrations and also reduces the burden on the regulated community and agencies. The accuracy of modeling demonstrations is paramount in the determination of ambient impacts and effectiveness of controls on new or modify sources.
The EPA is also announcing the Eleventh Conference on Air Quality Modeling on August 12 and 13, 2015 and inviting the public to participate in the conference. The conference will focus on the revisions that the EPA is proposing to the Guideline and part of the conference will also serve as the public hearing for these revisions.
EPA Finalizes Rule to Reduce Climate-Damaging HFCs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 2, 2015
WASHINGTON – Today, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finalizing a rule to prohibit certain uses of chemicals that significantly contribute to climate change in favor of safer, more climate-friendly alternatives. This action responds to President Obama’s Climate Action Plan by reducing emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a class of potent greenhouse gases used in air-conditioning, refrigeration, and other equipment.
“Today’s action delivers on the President’s Climate Action Plan and the administration’s commitment to acting on climate. And it is in line with steps leading businesses are already taking to reduce and replace HFCs with safer, climate-friendly alternatives,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “This rule will not only reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, but also encourage greater use and development of the next generation of safer HFC alternatives.”
In the United States, HFC emissions are expected to nearly double by 2020 and triple by 2030. New technologies and new climate-friendly refrigerants can significantly reduce these emission increases. EPA estimates this final rule will reduce greenhouse gas emissions of 54 to 64 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2025, equal to the carbon dioxide emissions from the annual electricity use of more than 5.8 million homes.
The HFCs and HFC-containing blends affected by today’s rule are used in aerosols, foam blowing, motor vehicle air conditioning, retail food refrigeration and vending machines. In many of the sectors addressed by today’s rulemaking, EPA is also approving several alternatives under its Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program; the new options offer better climate protection without harming the ozone layer.
Under the authority of the Clean Air Act and EPA’s SNAP Program, EPA reviews alternatives on an ongoing basis and issues updates to the lists of acceptable and unacceptable substitutes. Today’s rule changes the status of certain high-global warming potential (GWP) HFCs that were previously listed as acceptable under the SNAP Program as unacceptable in specific end uses. These changes are based on information showing other alternatives are available for the same uses that pose lower risk overall to human health and the environment.
In developing and finalizing the rule, EPA received input from industry, environmental groups and others through workshops and meetings, and reviewed more than 7,000 public comments. Based on public comment on the proposal and additional information submitted to the agency, the agency’s final rule makes a number of changes from the proposal. These include giving manufacturers the time and flexibility they need to ensure a smooth transition to safer alternatives.
On March 28, 2013 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized updates to emission limits for new power plants under the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS). The rule includes emission limits for mercury, particulate matter (PM), sulfur dioxide (SO2), acid gases, and certain individual metals.
The standards affect only new coal- and oil-fired power plants that will be built in the future. The EPA update does not change the final emission limits or other requirements for existing power plants.
A clarification memo was published on March 8, 2013 on the use of meteorological data from automated weather stations (ASOS) in AERMOD in regulatory modeling applications. The URL of this guidance document is:
The Draft Guidance for PM2.5 Permit Modeling is now available for public review and comment through April 17, 2013. There is an accompanying PM2.5 SILs/SMC Court Decision Question and Answer Document that provides additional context for the draft guidance document with regards to the January 22, 2013, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decision concerning PM2.5 SILs and SMC.
The link can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/ttn/scram/guidance/guide/Draft_Guidance_for_PM25_Permit_Modeling.pdf
A federal court ruled that the EPA exceeded its authority when it established a screening tool that could allow some new power plants to be exempted from certain requirements under the EPA’s October 2010-finalized rule aimed at curbing emissions of particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. The October 2010 final rule established several criteria for making PSD permitting determinations for fine particle pollution. These include those that address air quality modeling and monitoring provisions, such as increments, significant impact levels (SILs), and a significant monitoring concentration (SMC). The complete ruling can be found at: http://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/opinions.nsf/3964717CAD7BDA0085257AFB0055425F/$file/10-1413-1416378.pdf.
I was going to ask for the link, Thanks!
Here is a link to that ruling: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-01-15/pdf/2012-30946.pdf
In response to a court order, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized an update to its national air quality standards for harmful fine particle pollution (PM2.5), including soot, setting the annual health standard at 12 micrograms per cubic meter. By 2020, ninety-nine percent of U.S. counties are projected to meet revised health standard without any additional actions
The announcement made on 12/14/2012 has no effect on the existing daily standard for fine particles or the existing daily standard for coarse particles (PM10), which includes dust from farms and other sources), both of which remain unchanged.
Tell us what YOU think about this update. Is it realistic? Is it beneficial? How will it affect you?