Federal law requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review air quality standards periodically to ensure that they reflect the latest scientific research for health and environmental protection. In September, EPA lowered the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 70 ppb. EPA’s announcement launches a multi-year process in which EPA and state air quality agencies will begin incorporating the new standard into their monitoring and planning work.
While the region experienced mild summer weather this year, three of the 2015 ozone readings would have been categorized as orange alert days — unhealthy for sensitive groups — under this stricter standard. EPA uses a three-year rolling average to determine whether a metro area is in attainment with the ozone standard or not. Early indications are that Kansas City’s 2015 ozone readings meet the new standard, while 2014 readings did not. Next summer’s ozone levels, as part of a 2014/2015/2016 average, will likely be used to determine whether the region is in attainment with the new standard.
The Kansas City region continues to employ voluntary strategies to reduce ozone-forming and greenhouse gas emissions.6 average, will likely be used to determine whether the region is in attainment with the new standard.
The participation in the EPA’s Ozone Advance program and implementation of MARC’s award-winning Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) both leverage local community actions to reduce ozone levels and pollutants.
Learn more about the Kansas City region’s air quality program at www.marc.org/airq.