March 3, 2022
CHICAGO (March 3, 2022) –Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposal to formally redesignate portions of Door County in Wisconsin to attainment of the 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone. Air monitoring data from 2019 through 2021 show Door County now meets the national standard set to protect public health.
“People in Door County are breathing cleaner, healthier air due to EPA’s partnership with the state,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore. “Reducing ozone pollution in the air is especially helpful for vulnerable populations.”
EPA worked collaboratively with Wisconsin to develop strategies for attaining the ozone standard in the revised Door County nonattainment area, which consists of portions of the county north of the Sturgeon Bay canal but excluding Newport State Park. The area south of the canal has been designated as attaining the standard since 2018. In 2020, EPA redesignated the area including Newport State Park to attainment of the standard. In 2021, in response to a court decision, EPA designated an additional portion of Door County as nonattainment for the ozone standard. In the current rulemaking, based on newer air quality data, EPA is proposing to redesignate the remaining portion of Door County to attainment and proposing to approve Wisconsin’s maintenance plan to ensure that the area will continue to meet the 2015 ozone standard. EPA will be accepting comments on this proposal through April 4, 2022.
Ground-level ozone is not emitted directly into the air but is formed when nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) react in the presence of sunlight. Emissions from industrial facilities and electric utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents are some of the major sources of NOx and VOCs. Reducing ozone will help people to experience fewer health problems including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation and congestion. Less ground-level ozone will also help to avoid worsening conditions such as bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma, and it will help to avoid reducing lung function or inflaming the linings of the lungs. Children will especially benefit from reduced exposure to ozone because their lungs are still developing.
The improvement in air quality is due to state and EPA programs to reduce NOx and VOC emissions in Wisconsin and upwind areas including Chicago. These control measures include more protective vehicle emissions standards, nonroad engine emissions standards, and programs to reduce emissions from power plants. Nationally, average concentrations of ozone decreased 20% from 2000 to 2020. All other air pollutants regulated under NAAQS – carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter and ozone – have also significantly decreased thanks to the various air quality management and control strategies developed and implemented at the local, state, regional, and national level.
For more information about NAAQS: https://www.epa.gov/naaqs
For information about air quality in your area: https://www.airnow.gov
For information about air quality trends: https://www.epa.gov/air-trends