Contact(s): Joseph Hoch, section chief, DNR Regional Pollutants and Mobile Source Section, 608-267- 7543; Bart Sponseller, director, Air Management Bureau, 608-264 – 8537
MADISON - On Tuesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that air quality for six southeastern Wisconsin counties had improved enough to change the area's status from nonattainment to attainment. This action formally recognizes that the area has now met a 1997 federal air quality standard for ground-level ozone.
The counties that now meet the standard - Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Washington and Waukesha - have been in a constant state of nonattainment for federal ozone standards since 1991 and were part of EPA's "Milwaukee-Racine Nonattainment Area." The 1997 federal air quality standard for ground-level ozone is 84 parts per billion.
"The DNR welcomes this action by the EPA. It recognizes the significant improvements in air quality and its associated public health benefits in Wisconsin," said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp.
Sources in these counties will still be required to follow the same air pollution controls that apply to other attainment areas in the state. "This is good news, and more work needs to be done," said Air Management Bureau Director Bart Sponseller.
Sponseller noted that, in 2008, EPA set an even lower ozone standard of 75 parts per billion. While all other areas in the state are classified as attainment for the 2008 standard, a portion of Kenosha County and all of Sheboygan County are not meeting the required levels and are still considered nonattainment areas.