News Release, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
PHILADELPHIA (July 26, 2019) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved the District of Columbia’s request to redesignate the District to attainment for the 2008 federal ozone standard under the Clean Air Act.
“Meeting the health-based air quality standards is one of this administration’s top priorities because all Americans have the right to breathe clean air,” said EPA Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio. “Meeting this milestone is an accomplishment that the District along with its neighbors in Maryland and Virginia can be proud of.”
On May 21, 2012, the Washington, DC-MD-VA area was designated nonattainment for the 2008 federal National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone under the Clean Air Act. The Washington area is comprised of the District of Columbia and parts of Maryland and Virginia, which include: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, and Prince George’s counties in Maryland; and Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William counties, and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park in Virginia.
“On behalf of Mayor Muriel Bowser, I am thrilled that all of our hard work with our regional partners has led to Washington D.C.’s redesignation of attainment for the 2008 NAAQS for ozone,” said Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) Director Tommy Wells. “This is a critical step toward achieving our Sustainable DC goal of making our city the healthiest, greenest, and most livable in the world.”
In early 2018, the District, Maryland, and Virginia formally submitted requests to redesignate their potions of the Washington area from marginal nonattainment to attainment for the 2008 ozone NAAQS under the Clean Air Act. On April 15, 2019, EPA approved Maryland and Virginia’s requests for their portions of the Washington area to be redesignated to attainment of the 2008 NAAQS for ozone. On July 16, 2019, EPA approved the redesignation of the District of Columbia from marginal nonattainment to attainment for the 2008 NAAQS for ozone.
Ground level or “bad” ozone is not emitted directly into the air but is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the presence of sunlight. Emissions from industrial facilities and electric utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents are some of the major sources of NOx and VOCs.
Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation, and congestion. It can worsen bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma. Ground level ozone also can reduce lung function and inflame the linings of the lungs. Repeated exposure may permanently scar lung tissue.
For more information about ground-level ozone pollution: https://www.epa.gov/ground-level-ozone-pollution