Local News

State: Triangle, Fayetteville don't meet ozone standards

Posted March 12, 2009 2:36 p.m. EDT
Updated March 12, 2009 2:39 p.m. EDT

— State environmental regulators on Thursday recommended that the federal government designate 24 counties and parts of 17 others as not meeting the new federal air-quality standard for ozone.

The counties that don't meet the standards include Wake, Durham, Orange, Cumberland, Edgecombe, Franklin, Granville, Nash and Person, as well as parts of Chatham and Johnston counties.

“Air quality is improving in North Carolina, but we need to ensure that we meet the new stricter federal standard for ozone,” Dee Freeman, secretary of state Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said in a statement. “We have identified those areas with the most serious ozone problems, and we will focus attention and develop plans for improving air quality in these non-attainment areas.”

Ozone, the main component in urban smog, is unhealthy to breathe and can damage trees and crops. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adopted a more stringent standard for ozone a year ago, lowering the allowable level from 0.08 to 0.075 parts per million measured over eight hours.

Non-attainment areas will be the focus of air-quality plans for controlling ozone, Freeman said, including measures to reduce emissions from cars, trucks, industries and power plants. The designations also give the EPA the authority to review proposed highway projects and long-range transportation plans.

The EPA is expected to make a final decision on the designations by March 12, 2010.