WASHINGTON STATE DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY
The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) develops air pollution standards to protect human health. In 1997, EPA issued annual and 24-hour standards for fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Under these standards, PM2.5 levels must not exceed an annual average of 15.0 parts per million averaged over a three calendar-year period, or a 98th percentile level of 65 parts per million averaged over the same time 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.
In February 2004, the state of Washington recommended that EPA designate all areas of the state except for Yakima County and tribal lands "attainment/unclassifiable" because all areas of Washington either have not violated the annual or 24-hour standards, or are not monitored. No recommendation was made for Yakima County because three calendar years of data were not available at the time the recommendation was made. Washington state committed to submit a recommendation in April 2004.
Now, data from 2001-2003 are available for Yakima County and all other monitored areas of the state. The data show that Yakima and the other monitored areas meet the PM2.5 standard. Washington is considering making a revised recommendation to EPA that all areas of the state except for tribal lands be designated "attainment/unclassifiable." (Tribal lands are not affected by state recommendations because tribes have authority over air quality within the boundaries of their reservations.) The state would not be required to take any further actions if all areas are designated attainment/unclassifiable.
EPA will evaluate the state recommendation and the 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 as attainment/unclassifiable for the PM2.5 standard. The hearing is scheduled as follows: Wednesday, April 14, 2004, 2:00 p.m., Department of Ecology, Headquarters Building, Room 2B-09, 300 Desmond Drive, Lacey, WA.
Written comments must be postmarked no later than April 14, 2004, and should be sent to Doug Schneider, Department of Ecology Air Quality Program, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600.
For more information about the designation of ozone areas in Washington, please contact Doug Schneider, Department of Ecology Air Quality Program, (360) 407-6874.
If you need this information in an alternate format, please contact Tami Dahlgren at (360) 407-6800. If you are a person with a speech or hearing impairment, call 711, or 1-800-833-6388 for TTY.