EPA Says More Cities Are Meeting Air Quality Standards
Kocheisen, Carol, Nation's Cities Weekly
Municipalities have made steady progress toward attainment of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) as required under the 1990 Amendments to the Clean Air Act, according to statistics recently released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Forty-one of the 97 areas that had been designated "nonattainment" for ground level (tropospheric, not stratospheric) ozone (smog) were in compliance with the national standards and 13 of the 42 carbon monoxide "nonattainment" areas have also reached the federal standard.
To be in compliance with Clean Air Act requirements for ozone, an area must be in attainment for three consecutive years.
EPA's report also indicates that over the past ten years, overall emissions of the six major air pollutants - ozone ([O.sub.3]), lead (Pb), sulfur dioxide ([SO.sub.2]), carbon monoxide (CO), particulates ([PM.sub.10]), and nitrogen dioxide ([NO.sub.2]) - targeted by federal legislation have been reduced. Greatest reductions were achieved in lead ambient levels which declined 89 percent, 18 percent over the last year. Thirty percent reductions were achieved (five percent over the past year) in carbon monoxide emissions, principally as a result of turnover of the nation's vehicles to newer, less polluting motor vehicles.
Ozone, the most pervasive air pollution problem, affects 98 metropolitan areas in the country. High ozone levels are in part affected by hot, dry, stagnant summer weather conditions and were particularly severe in the summers of 1983 and 1988. Of the 98 ozone nonattainment areas in the country, 43 areas are classified as "moderate," 14 areas are "serious," nine are "severe," and one (Los Angeles) is "extreme. …