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Air Quality Goal Setting

Definition
Overview
How do I set air quality goals?

Definition

Air Quality Goal Setting is the activity of establishing standards based on scientific or technical assessment with the aim of mitigating the harmful health and environmental effects of various air pollutants.

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AQM System Flow Chart Highlighting Air Quality Goal Setting
Overview

Air quality goal setting is the process by which a country sets targets for its air quality management system. These goals may represent an acceptable level of a pollutant in the ambient air, or a desired level of control for a facility that emits pollutants. For most countries, this represents the starting point for any air quality management program.

The United States controls air pollutants through two main programs: (1) the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) program, and (2) the Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAP) program.

First stage - U.S. E-PA sets technology-based national emission standards to address air toxic pollution. These standards require major stationary sources to meet emission limitations by using maximum achievable control technology.

Second stage - U.S. EPA is then required to evaluate the health risks that may remain after the technological controls have been implemented. Some sources may be subject to additional control requirements if they pose an unacceptable health risk to populations living near the facility.

A good synopsis to help understand the air quality process in the U.S. is described in the Citizens' Guide to Air Quality in Montana, which provides a basic description of the federal and Montana state ambient air quality standards, regional ambient air quality concerns, and case histories for four areas in Montana that highlight the success of their state implementation plans.

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How do I set air quality goals?

There are several good examples to follow for setting air quality goals, including documents produced in the United States and Europe. No matter where you are located, it is important to involve the public. As with the other management activities related to the AQM process, it is critical to contact the regulated community and other affected parties, as the public should be consulted as part of the strategy development process. This early consultation reduces later challenges and streamlines implementation.

For the U.S. example, you may:

For the European example, you may:

To see another example of setting air quality goals:

Resources

Organizations and Agencies

Publications and Reports

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