Thursday, September 28, 2006

EPA Changes Air Quality Monitoring Regulations

Sep 28: U.S. EPA has issued a final rule changing its national air quality monitoring regulations as part of a strategy to update technology and keep pace with more advanced approaches to air quality management. EPA says the changes will help it and states, tribes and local air quality agencies better protect and inform the public about air quality in their communities. Reflecting extensive independent scientific review and public input, the rule will change the locations of some types of monitors, add new monitors for some pollutants, and allow states and tribes to shut down unneeded monitors for some pollutants. The rule also will add more monitors capable of providing real-time measurements for some pollutants.

The changes affect monitoring for six common pollutants known as "criteria pollutants" and the pollutants that form them. The six pollutants are: ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter and lead. There will continue to be a national network of monitors for each criteria pollutant, but EPA said the improved network will be more strategic and more efficient. Ambient air monitoring systems play a critical role in the nation's air quality management program infrastructure. They are used for a wide variety of purposes, including providing data used to determine whether areas are meeting the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Other important uses of the monitors include: support of timely reporting of the Air Quality Index and issuing air quality forecasts, support of long-term health assessments, and tracking long-term air quality both to gauge effectiveness of emission control strategies and to quantify accuracy of supporting model evaluations.

The ambient air monitoring amendments will require each state to operate one to three monitoring stations that take an integrated, multipollutant approach to ambient air monitoring. A number of the amendments relate specifically to PM2.5, revising the requirements for reference and equivalent method determinations (including specifications and test procedures) for fine particle monitors. The final rule will become effective 60-days following publication in the Federal Register.

Access a release (click here). Access a fact sheet on the rules (click here). Access a prepublication copy of the 522-page final rule (click here). [*Air]