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News Releases from Region 04

EPA Region 4 Takes Action to Redesignate the Tri-City TN-MS-AR Area for 2008 8-Hour Ozone Standard

Contact Information: 
Jason McDonald (mcdonald.jason@epa.gov)
404-562-9203, 404-562-8400

ATLANTA – On April 8, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took final action to approve the state of Mississippi’s request to redesignate to attainment a portion of DeSoto County, Mississippi, for the 2008 8-hour ozone standards. This is the portion of Mississippi that is within the Memphis, Tennessee-Mississippi-Arkansas nonattainment area for the 2008 8-hour ozone standards (hereafter referred to as the Memphis, TN-MS-AR Area). The Memphis, TN-MS-AR Area consists of a portion of DeSoto County in Mississippi, all of Shelby County in Tennessee, and all of Crittenden County in Arkansas. Based on air quality monitoring data for the three-year period of 2012, 2013, and 2014, the entire Memphis, TN-MS-AR Area met the 2008 8-hour Ozone standards. Based on subsequent air quality monitoring data for 2015, the area continues to meet the 2008 8-hour Ozone standards.

On April 19, 2016, EPA also proposed to approve the state of Tennessee’s request to redesignate to attainment Shelby County, Tennessee.  This is the portion of Tennessee that is within the Memphis, TN-MS-AR Area. On April 13, 2016, EPA Region 6 Administrator signed the final rule to approve the redesignation request for the Crittenden County in Arkansas, portion of the Memphis, TN-MS-AR Area.

 “The redesignation of the tri-state area - DeSoto County, the Memphis Metropolitan area, and the State of Mississippi- to attainment reflects a level of commitment to improving the air quality and helping people breathe easier,” said EPA Regional Administrator Heather McTeer Toney.

The States of Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee have reached a significant milestone by attaining the 2008 8-Hour Ozone standard in the midst of significant population growth, ensuring the citizens in Crittenden, DeSoto and Shelby County breathe clean air.

“This redesignation is important news for DeSoto County, the Memphis Metropolitan area, and the State of Mississippi.... As a native of DeSoto County I am keenly aware of the effect nonattainment could have as an unfair economic impact on the county. Many people in the public and private sectors worked diligently together to get this designation changed to protect public health and the environment but also to ensure the long-term viability of economic development,” said Gary Rikard, MDEQ Executive Director.

Ground level or "bad" ozone is not emitted directly into the air, but is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight. Emissions from industrial facilities and electric utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents are some of the major sources of NOx and VOC. Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation, and congestion. It can worsen bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma. Ground level ozone also can reduce lung function and inflame the linings of the lungs. Repeated exposure may permanently scar lung tissue.

For more information on the DeSoto County, Mississippi and Shelby County, Tennessee portions of the Memphis, TN-MS-AR Area, redesignation for the 2008 8-hour ozone standard visit docket number EPA-R04-OAR-2015-0743 for DeSoto County and EPA-R04-OAR-2016-0018 for Shelby County, both at www.regulations.gov.

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