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EPA Takes Key Step to Reduce Fine Particle Pollution in Virginia - States Receive Proposed Local Designations Under New Standard

Release Date: 6/29/2004
Contact Information: Donna Heron, 215-814-5113

Donna Heron, 215-814-5113

PHILADELPHIA – Taking a key step to reduce air pollution linked to serious health problems, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today sent to states and tribes a proposed list of local areas designated to be in or out of attainment with a new standard for fine particles, or PM 2.5.

Nine Virginia communities are proposed as non-attainment. The action is part of a process that will lead to final designations in November 2004.

“Reducing fine particle pollution is the most important action we can take to clean the air,” said Donald S. Welsh, regional administrator for EPA’s mid-Atlantic region.

Fine particle pollution – also called soot – represents a significant clean air concern. These tiny particles – smaller than 2.5 micrometers and 28 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair – have been scientifically linked to serious human health problems, especially for people with heart or lung disease, older adults and children. Their ability to be suspended in air for long periods of time makes fine particles a public health threat far beyond the source of emissions.

The proposed non-attainment jurisdictions in Virginia are: Arlington, Alexandria (City), Fairfax, Fairfax (City), Falls Church (City), Loudoun, Manassas (City), Manassas Park (City) and Prince William.
These proposed counties are not final designations. For the next step in the process, states will have the opportunity to comment on EPA’s proposed non-attainment areas and to provide new information and analyses, if necessary. EPA will make the final designations in November 2004.

Fine particles come from all types of combustion, including motor vehicles, power plants, residential wood burning, forest fires, agricultural burning and some industrial processes. Larger dust particles come from dust stirred up by vehicles traveling on roads and from crushing and grinding operations.

Information is available at: and

Note for Radio Editors: An audio sound bite about PM 2.5 is available in mp3 at