Those in the Atlanta area can now breathe a little easier or at least should be able to, according to air quality monitoring data from 2008, 2009 and 2010. This three-year data collection shows that the Atlanta area has made significant improvements in air quality over the past few years, spurring officials to request that the attainment of the ‘1997 8-hour ozone standard’ from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This designation would show these improvements on the national environmental stage.
The EPA’s Regional Administrator Gwen Keyes Fleming commented, “Today, we commend local and state officials, who have been working collaboratively with us to reach this milestone.”
Fleming referred to the hard work by local, state, federal and private partners over the past few years which has led to the improvement of air quality in 20 Atlanta area counties including: Barrow, Bartow, Carroll, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Hall, Henry, Newton, Paulding, Rockdale, Spalding and Walton.
“It has taken many years, but the results are cleaner air and a healthier place to live and work,” said Judson H. Turner, Director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. “All of metropolitan Atlanta can be proud of this major accomplishment. Everyone should be applauded, from citizens who keep their vehicles in good running condition to industries and power plants that have invested in improved emission controls.”
Breathing ground level or ‘bad’ ozone has long been a trigger of various health problems including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation, congestion and many more; it can also worsen health conditions like asthma, bronchitis and emphysema.
Ground level emissions are chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) within sunlight. Major sources for this reaction come from industrial facilities, electrical utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors and chemical solvents.
Atlanta’s push for a 1997 8-hour ozone redesignation is an excellent achievement and speaks volumes for the Atlanta communities who helped to improve their city’s air quality.
If you would like to learn more or comment on this proposal, the EPA has set up a 30-day public comment period on their website www.regulations.gov. Please visit docket number EPA-R04-OAR-2012-0986.