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Air Quality in New York Metropolitan Area Is Improving; EPA Proposes to Put New York Portion of Metropolitan on List of Areas Attaining Carbon Monoxide Standard

Release Date: 08/29/2001
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(#01108) New York, New York -- Air quality in the New York City area has improved and, at the request of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to take it off the list of areas with carbon monoxide problems. In 1978, the area, which included the five boroughs and Westchester and Nassau Counties, was designated as a "non-attainment area" for carbon monoxide because air monitors measured violations of EPA's health-based standard for this pollutant. Carbon monoxide comes from any combustion process, but in the New York metropolitan region, the main source is motor vehicles. Clean Air Act requirements such as the use of cleaner fuel and better emissions controls on cars and trucks are credited with the dramatic drop in carbon monoxide levels. In 1978, 156 violations of the health standard were measured in the New York metropolitan area. There have not been any such violations in New York in more than 9 years. EPA is taking comments on its proposal to re-designate the area as "attainment" Portions of northern New Jersey are also part of the non-attainment area, but they are not subject to today's proposal.

"This is proof positive that our air is getting cleaner and that the clean air regulations that EPA and New York State have put into place really do work," said William J. Muszynski, Acting EPA Region 2 Administrator. "This is one pollution problem we have licked. However, while there's no doubt that New Yorkers breathe healthier air today than they have in the past half century, we can't rest on these laurels. We still have other air pollutants of concern such as smog, soot and toxics."

New York State requested that EPA re-designate the area as attainment based on the fact that there have not been any carbon monoxide violations since 1991. In order to apply for re-designation an area with prior carbon monoxide problems must be shown to meet standards for at least 2 years in a row. New York has a contingency plan B to use gasoline with low vapor pressure in the winter months B in case violations are measured in the future.

"Governor George Pataki has lead the nation in the fight to reduce air pollution and improve New York State's air quality," New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Erin M. Crotty said. "Today's action by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency underscores how the State's commitment to accelerating air quality programs and reducing harmful emissions from motor vehicles has resulted cleaner, more healthful air for all New Yorkers."

For more information or for a copy of EPA's proposal, call 212-637-4249. Submit comments by September 30, 2001 to: 

Raymond Werner
Air Programs Branch Chief
290 Broadway - 25th Floor, New York, New York 10007 
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