WSR 04-01-115


[ Filed December 17, 2003, 3:14 p.m. ]



Designating Fine Particulate Matter Areas in Washington State

The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) develops air pollution standards to protect human health. EPA issued annual and 24-hour standards for fine particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in size (PM2.5) in 1997. The standards limit PM2.5 to 65 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over 24 hours; and 15 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over a three-year period.

Federal law requires EPA to designate areas of states as attainment, nonattainment, or unclassifiable after setting a new or revised air quality standard. A designation of "attainment" means an area meets the annual and 24-hour standards. "Nonattainment" means an area violates one or both standards and the state must develop a plan to bring the area into attainment with both the annual and the 24-hour standards. "Unclassifiable" means an area cannot be designated as either attainment or nonattainment because no monitoring data are available.

The designation process starts with a recommendation from the state on appropriate designations. State recommendations do not apply to Tribal lands, because tribes have authority over air quality within the boundaries of their reservations.

Washington is considering recommending that all areas of the state, except Yakima County, be designated "attainment/unclassifiable" based on 2000-2002 data. With the exception of Yakima, all areas of Washington either have not violated the annual or 24-hour standards or are not monitored. The state would not be required to take any further actions if all areas are designated attainment/unclassifiable.

Yakima County will not have three calendar years of data until the end of 2003. Data from 2001 and 2002 indicate Yakima meets the standards and the state expects to recommend "attainment/unclassifiable" once three years data are available. Washington will make a commitment to submit the recommendation for Yakima County by April 2004.

EPA will evaluate the state recommendation and monitoring records to determine the appropriate designation. EPA plans to publish the designations in the Federal Register in December 2004.

The Department of Ecology will hold a public hearing to receive comments on its recommendation to designate all areas of Washington (except for Yakima County) as attainment/unclassifiable for PM2.5 standards. The hearing is scheduled as follows:

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

2:00 p.m.

Department of Ecology

Headquarters Building

Room 2B-18

300 Desmond Drive

Lacey, WA

Written comments must be postmarked no later than January 21, 2004, and should be sent to Doug Schneider, Department of Ecology Air Quality Program, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600.

If you need special accommodations, please contact Tami Dahlgren at (360) 407-6800 or TTY (for the speech or hearing impaired) 711 or 1-800-833-6388. For more information about the designation of ozone areas in Washington, please contact Doug Schneider, Department of Ecology Air Quality Program, (360) 407-6874.

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