The Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee (MWAQC) has approved a new air quality plan to reduce fine particle pollution in the region. MWAQC’s new plan goes beyond Clean Air Act requirements in an effort to gain further reductions in fine particle pollution. Fine particle pollution is a mixture of microscopic solids and liquid droplets suspended in air. At 2.5 microns in diameter, the small particles can get deep into lungs and even the bloodstream. People with heart or lung disease, older adults and children are at greater risk from this type of pollution.
Levels of fine particle pollution have been declining in the region since 2005, and although levels of fine particles in the region’s air are actually meeting the EPA national standard, MWAQC decided to issue a more stringent plan than required because several states, including Maryland and the District of Columbia, have challenged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the standard, arguing that it is not protective enough of public health. In 1997, EPA set an annual fine particle standard less stringent than the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, an independent EPA advisory body, recommended.
“This plan goes far beyond what the region is required to do,” said David Snyder, MWAQC Chair and Fall Church City Council member. “The plan includes a combination of state measures and local government initiatives such as wind energy purchases, green fleets and green building guidelines that will reduce emissions by reducing demand on power plants. This reflects the hard work of people in local government and business.”
States in the region are adopting the Clean Air Interstate Rule (in Maryland, the “Healthy Air Act”) that will reduce pollution from power plants. The state rules will reduce sulfur dioxide, a major component of fine particles, from power plants by 80% starting in 2010. Cleaner car and truck engine technology and low sulfur fuel will also reduce fine particles.
The plan, adopted March 7, 2008, will be submitted by the states to EPA to meet the April 5, 2008 deadline. The plan will be available on the COG website at: http://sharepoint.mwcog.org/airquality/Shared%20Documents/Forms/AllItems.aspx
For further information see www.mwcog.org/environment/air