From: Roger Greenway, ENN
Published May 31, 2010 11:41 AM

Dust storms not sole reason for Phoenix air quality

Under the Clean Air Act, states must develop State Implementation Plans (SIP) to convince the US EPA that they can meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQAS).

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rejected Arizona's claim that dust storms caused the high pollution readings in Phoenix in 2008, a decision which could have significant implications for the State.

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Arizona is currently not meeting the NAAQAS for fine particulate matter, PM- 10 (one-seventh the width of a human hair). Major concerns for human health from exposure to PM- 10 include: effects on breathing and respiratory systems, damage to lung tissue, cancer, and premature death. The elderly, children, and people with chronic lung disease, influenza, or asthma, are especially sensitive to the effects of particulate matter.

The State had asserted that dust storms were responsible for ten of the eleven unacceptably high pollution spikes in Phoenix during 2008.

"After thoroughly reviewing the State's data, EPA air-quality scientists determined that a legally significant number of pollution spikes were not the result of regional dust storms," said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA Regional Administrator. "Therefore, the "exceptional events" were not supported by the science," added Blumenfeld.

This finding will require EPA to initiate disapproval of the SIP for PM-10 for Phoenix. If a final disapproval is rendered, federal transportation funds to the state could be frozen. In such a scenario, transportation funds would be withheld until the State submits an adequate plan to EPA. The freeze would not affect current, approved transportation plans and projects.

"I want to acknowledge the collaborative work that ADEQ, the Maricopa Association of Governments, Maricopa County, and the City of Phoenix have done to address existing sources of PM- 10," said Blumenfeld. EPA is committed to continuing to provide the State, regional and local agencies technical expertise, monitoring equipment and funding to bring the State into compliance.

The federal government already provides $30 million annually to Arizona, through the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program. These funds are available to be used to
reduce PM- 10 emissions.

For more information: http://www.epa.gov/region9/air/phoenixpm/index.html#100521

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