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U.S. EPA data review shows air is getting cleaner in Washoe County, Nevada

Release Date: 1/10/2005
Contact Information: Laura Gentile, 415/947-4227 (

SAN FRANCISCO -- Based on a review of data collected over the past decade, today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed that Washoe County, Nev., meets the federal public health standards for carbon monoxide and ozone, or smog.

Over the past decade, the county, which includes Reno and Sparks, has met the EPA's national public health standards for ozone and carbon monoxide.

"Nevada's hard work in achieving the federal public health standards means cleaner air for Washoe County residents," said Deborah Jordan, director of the air division for the EPA's Pacific Southwest office. "The County has made great strides in reducing carbon monoxide and smog pollution and we will all continue to work together to help further reduce air pollution."

"We're very pleased that the EPA is proposing to find that our area meets the air quality standards for carbon monoxide and ozone," said Andy Goodrich, director of the air quality division for Washoe County's District Health Department. "We will continue to do everything possible to keep our air free of pollution."

The EPA requires that the county test the air continuously -- 24 hours per day, seven days per week. The county health department analyzes air samples collected at half a dozen monitoring stations located in the southern part of the county.

Carbon monoxide and smog pollution in the county has come primarily from motor vehicles. Carbon monoxide is produced when fuel is burned inefficiently and ground-level ozone is created by a chemical reaction that can involve various pollutants, sunlight and high temperatures.

The county's air quality improvements can be attributed to better controls on motor vehicle emissions, cleaner burning fuels, a vapor recovery program at gas stations and restrictions on use of wood-burning fireplaces.

Exposure to elevated levels of carbon monoxide can cause loss of depth perception and manual dexterity as well as fatigue, chest pains and breathing difficulties. Young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with asthma are especially susceptible to the effects of carbon monoxide pollution. Ozone pollution aggravates respiratory illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis and emphysema.

The public is invited to comment on the EPA's proposal, which will be published in the Federal Register by the middle of January. The proposal has been posted to the EPA's web site at . The proposal will be open for public comment for 30 days and the EPA will consider all comments received before finalizing the proposal.