On October 1, 2015, the EPA changed the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone to 70 parts per billion (ppb). The updated standards are designed to protect the health of children, the elderly, those with lung diseases such as asthma, and outdoor workers or those who take part in outdoor activities. The new measures also will improve the health of trees, plants and ecosystems that may be affected by ground-level ozone and other pollutants. The EPA is making corresponding revisions to the Air Quality Index (AQI) by setting an AQI value of 100 equal to an 8-hour-average O3 measurement of 70 ppb, the same as the revised primary O3 standard.
Our Planning staff is preparing to start work on a Rider 7 Air Quality Grant from TCEQ. The intent behind this program is to ensure our region stays in compliance with the federal standard, a designation known as “Attainment.” The new O3 standards will be applied for the first time at the end of the 2014-2016 monitoring cycle, and areas will be designated as either “Attainment” or “Non-attainment” late in 2017. We are confident that public officials, local business and private citizens can work together to make this happen. Visit our Air Quality page for more information on easy changes you can make to help reduce air pollution.
For more information on how the EPA will be implementing the new rules, go to epa.gov/ozonepollution/actions.html. For a series of nationwide ozone maps, visit www3.epa.gov/ozonepollution/maps.html.