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News Releases from Region 06

EPA approves Albuquerque’s request

Dust storms caused high particulate readings

04/04/2018
Contact Information: 
Jennah Durant or Joe Hubbard (R6Press@epa.gov)
214 665-2200

DALLAS – (April 4, 2018) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the city of Albuquerque’s request to exclude air data that was influenced by naturally occurring dust storms. The city presented information to EPA showing that certain exceedances in particulate pollution qualified as a exceptional events under the federal Clean Air Act. 

“Over the years we have made great progress by working with states, tribes and local agencies in decreasing man-made concentrations of particulate matter,” said Regional Administrator Anne Idsal. “This is another example of our commitment to both follow the rule of law and promote cooperative federalism by giving partnering agencies regulatory certainty.”

During 2016, there were three occasions where particulate matter (PM10) measurements from the monitors operated by the City could have caused the area to be designated as non-attainment and required additional pollution control measures in the area. All three occasions were determined to be exceptional events due to naturally occurring dust storms. PM10 describes inhalable particles, with diameters that are generally 10 micrometers and smaller. Under the Clean Air Act, EPA sets and reviews national air quality standards for PM. Air quality monitors measure concentrations of PM throughout the country. EPA, state, tribal and local agencies use that data to ensure that PM in the air is at levels that protect public health and the environment.

Exceptional events are unusual or naturally occurring events that affect air quality and are not reasonably controllable or preventable. Under the Clean Air Act, states, or local air quality jurisdictions, are responsible for identifying air quality monitoring data affected by an exceptional event and requesting that the EPA exclude the data from consideration when determining whether an area is in attainment or nonattainment of a National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS). A jurisdiction can request the exclusion by providing evidence the data was influenced by an exceptional event. 

For information on PM standards, sources, health effects, and programs to reduce pollution, please see www.epa.gov/pm-pollution

Particulate matter, also called particle pollution, contains microscopic solids or liquids which may be harmful if inhaled. The particles can become lodged in the lungs, or can even get in your bloodstream, and cause respiratory or heart problems. People with heart or lung disease, children, and older adults are most likely to be affected by particle pollution.

For more about EPA’s work in New Mexico, visit: https://www.epa.gov/nm

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