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Release Date: 7/20/1998
Contact Information: Randy Wittorp, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1589

     San Francisco -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a plan today that will help the Phoenix metropolitan area meet the health standard for airborne dust particles.  EPA has met a July 18, 1998 deadline to adopt a Federal Implementation Plan that curbs particulate air pollution in the Phoenix area because the State does not yet have an approved plan to control the pollutant.

     "Dust control protects public health and that's what this is all about," said Felicia Marcus, EPA's regional administrator, "This plan will fill a gap -- assuring progress toward clean air -- until the State has a plan in place providing needed public health protection."

     The pollution controls in the federal plan include:  measures to control dust from vacant lots, unpaved roads and unpaved parking lots and a process to develop best management practices for dust control on agricultural fields.  A review of public comments resulted in changes to the original proposal, such as an increase in the threshold of .1 acres to .5 acres for vacant lots subject to the rule, an increase in the exemption for unpaved roads of 150 average daily trips to 250 average daily trips, and the elimination of dust control plans for weed abatement.
     Phoenix is a particulate matter nonattainment area, recording violations of the annual standard as well as 22 exceedances of the 24-hour standard throughout the Valley in 1997.   Particulate matter affects the respiratory system and can cause damage to lung tissue and premature death. The elderly, children, and people with chronic lung disease, influenza, or asthma are especially sensitive to high levels of particulate matter.

     The primary cause of particulate matter is dust on paved roads kicked up by vehicle traffic, as well as windblown dust from construction sites, unpaved parking lots and roads, disturbed vacant lots, and agricultural fields.

     The State is currently developing a new particulate plan and intends to submit it to EPA in December of 1998.  The State has implemented a number of measures, including controls on construction and earth moving operations.  Yet there is still a need for additional pollution reductions.  Once the State submits a plan that includes control measures for the sources covered by the Federal Implementation Plan, EPA will withdraw the federal plan and the state plan will take its place.

     The Federal Implementation Plan will become effective 30 days following publication in the federal register.  EPA will kick off the program with a compliance assistance program, focusing on educating people affected by the new requirements.  Additional information on the plan will be available by the end of this week on EPA's website at