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New York and EPA Take Steps To Implement New Pollution Standards

Release Date: 07/31/1998
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(#98095) New York, N.Y. -- The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will take a major step toward implementing the new federal National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for fine particles (PM-2.5) Tuesday, August 4, 1998, when they hold two public workshops on New York's Proposed PM-2.5 Monitoring Network. The two workshops will be held from, New 3:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. and 6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. at Spector Hall, 1st Floor, 22 Reade Street, New York, New York.

The State and the EPA are conducting these public workshops to give the public the opportunity to ask questions and comment on the design of the proposed PM-2.5 Monitoring Network. The State will describe where it is planning to place the new PM-2.5 monitors and the criteria used for the selection of these sites. The State currently runs a network of monitors that measure larger particles (PM-10). However, this network will be enhanced so that it can measure PM-2.5 as well, which is now regulated under new EPA air pollution standards adopted last summer.

"New York supported EPA's new standards, and together we are involving the public in the implementation process," said Jeanne M. Fox, EPA Region 2 Administrator. "This will give New Yorkers a chance to learn more about the new air pollution standards, which go a long way toward protecting people from the harmful and irritating effects of air pollution."

DEC Commissioner John P. Cahill said, "Under Governor Pataki's leadership, New York State is doing more than ever to combat air pollution, and air quality is improving as a result. Nevertheless, we must continue to set higher standards to ensure that we are doing everything possible to protect the health of all New Yorkers. Governor Pataki is a strong supporter of the new federal standards for fine particles, and we are moving forward quickly to develop the monitoring system that we need to implement this important program."

In July 1997, EPA adopted tough new air pollution standards for two of the country's most common air pollutants -- fine particles and ground-level ozone, also known as smog. In order to help states implement the new standards nationwide, the EPA is providing states with the monitors and financial support to establish fine particle sampling stations at 1500 locations. New York is proposing to monitor fine particles at 55 locations. In certain locations, more sophisticated monitors will be used to identify the composition and sources of the fine particles. Forty of the new monitors must be placed in areas prescribed by EPA; the DEC has discretion over the siting of an additional 15 monitors. DEC has proposed placing those monitors in the New York City metropolitan area in order to focus its monitoring efforts on areas of greatest potential impact on human health.

The State will use the data collected from these monitors to determine if the new standards are being met. Three years worth of data is needed to make such determination. Using this information, the State will develop plans to reduce any unhealthful levels of fine particles in areas of the State that do not meet the new standards. New York State has recently met the federal standard for larger particules (PM-10), but will have to collect new monitoring data to assess the extent of PM-2.5 pollution in the state.

"EPA recognizes that it won't be easy for many states to implement these new, more protective standards, so we're giving them a boost by providing the monitors that they need to assess the extent of the fine particle problem," said Fox.

DEC will accept public comments on the siting of the new PM-2.5 monitors until Sept. 4, 1998. Written comments may be submitted to Neil Isabelle, Department of Environmental Conservation, Bureau of Air Quality Surveillance, 50 Wolf Rd., Albany, NY, 12233-3256.

Nationwide, it is estimated that these pollutants cause 15,000 premature deaths, aggravate asthma, which causes hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks each year, and cause other respiratory problems for millions of Americans. The federal Clean Air Act requires EPA to review its air quality standards every five years. As part of this review process, EPA scrutinized thousands of scientific health studies on fine particles and ground-level ozone and determined that new tougher standards were needed to protect human health. The Agency adopted new standards for fine particles and ground-level ozone in July 1997.

States must have the new PM 2.5 monitors in operation by the end of 1999. Most of New York's monitors will be operational by Jan. 1, 1999. They will collect three years of data to determine whether they meet the new standards. Depending on the severity of its pollution problem, a state will be required to meet the fine particle standard between 2012 and 2017.

For more information contact:
Mary Mears, Press Office
EPA Region 2
290 Broadway
NY, NY 10007-1866
Voice: 212-637-3669 FAX: 212-637-5046 E-Mail: