Contact(s): Bart Sponseller, DNR Air Management - 608-264-8537 or Bill Cosh, DNR spokesperson - 608-267-2773
MADISON. - Wisconsin's air quality improvements were showcased today with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's announcement of what areas in Wisconsin meet the federal ozone (smog) standard. All state counties, except for two, are classified as meeting the newest 8-hour ozone standard of 75 parts per billion. One county, Sheboygan, which barely exceeds the standard, was designated as not meeting the standard. A second county, Kenosha, is still being evaluated and will be classified later by EPA. This is the smallest ozone nonattainment area for Wisconsin since the EPA designations began in 1990.
"This is great news for all Wisconsin residents and for our economy. The number of nonattainment areas has decreased significantly. Almost the entire state is now meeting the newer, more stringent ozone standard and these areas will not have to implement more controls," said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp.
The previous 8-hour standard of 84 ppb was adopted in 1997 and 10 Wisconsin counties (Kewaunee, Door, Manitowoc, Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee, Washington, Racine, Kenosha and Sheboygan) were designated as not meeting this standard. All counties in Wisconsin met this standard by 2008 and continue to meet it. Nationally, EPA designated 45 areas as nonattainment for the new 2008 ozone standard, far below the 113 areas designated as not meeting the 1997 ozone standard.
Ozone levels have decreased significantly over the past few decades. The ozone standard has become more stringent as studies show that chronic health effects can occur at lower levels. Wisconsin's air quality is much improved from the years prior to 1990, when the 1-hour ozone standard of 120 ppb was adopted.
Sheboygan County's designation as a marginal nonattainment area is the lowest of six classifications and carries the fewest regulatory requirements.
"Sheboygan County is affected by air pollution transported into the area. National and regional controls now being implemented will help clean the air and we will work with local officials and businesses there to help them meet the standard," noted Bart Sponseller, Bureau Director, Air Management, DNR.