No Change to NAAQS for Ozone, Particulate Matter

Posted on 12/28/2020 by Roger Marks

US EPA will retain, without change, the current National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for both ozone and particulate matter.

EPA announced its final decision to retain the primary and secondary NAAQS for particulate matter on December 18.

The final decision to retain the NAAQS for ozone was announced on December 23. The decision was proposed in August 2020.

What Are NAAQS?

National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) are protective limits on the volume of six “criteria pollutants” in the air we breath. The six criteria pollutants are nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, lead, ozone, and particulate matter (PM).  

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to review the NAAQS for each of the six criteria pollutants once every five years and, if necessary, adjust them. In areas where pollution levels rise above the NAAQS (i.e., “non-attainment areas”), facilities face more stringent requirements for building or modifying sources of air pollution.

Read more: Quick Guide to National Air Quality Standards

What is Ozone?

Ground-level (“tropospheric”) ozone is harmful to human health and the environment. A primary factor in the creation of smog, ozone forms when nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) react with heat and sunlight.  

Breathing ozone can harm lung tissue and exacerbate respiratory maladies like bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma. Ozone can kill plants, as well, by negatively impacting photosynthesis and increasing plants' sensitivity to disease, insect damage, and severe weather.

EPA lowered the NAAQS for ozone to 70 parts per billion (ppb) in 2015.

What is Particulate Matter?

Particulate matter (PM) is generic term used to describe a class of particles that can originate from both man-made sources (e.g., coal-fired power plants) and natural sources (e.g., forest fires).

These particles vary in size and EPA categorizes them as follows:
  • Course particulates (PM10) are particulates 10 microns or smaller
  • Fine particulates (PM2.5) are particulates 2.5 microns or smaller  
Short- and long-term exposure to particulate matter contributes to decreased lung function and other adverse health effects in humans.  

EPA’s Back-to-Basics Approach to NAAQS Reviews

In 2018, EPA released a memo that listed five “back to basics” principles for NAAQS reviews. Number one on the list was to meet statutory deadlines, something EPA has struggled with historically.

Complete EPA Regulations Training - Jan. 26–27

Managing site compliance with the many complex EPA programs that affect your business is a major challenge. If you’re new to the field or need an update on changing EPA rules, online training is a convenient way to quickly build in-depth expertise.

Join a Lion instructor for live Complete Environmental Regulations training to identify the EPA rules that impact you. This unique two-day webinar is updated for 2021 to cover new and changing environmental regulations you should know about, including: 
  • EPA's new Waters of the US (WOTUS) Rule
  • Major Lautenberg Law amendments to TSCA
  • CSB's new chemical release reporting rule 
  • The latest Clean Air Act requirements for facilities 
Or learn at your own pace with these two easy-to-use online courses: 
Complete Environmental Regulations Online Course
TSCA Regulations Online Course

Tags: Clean Air Act, NAAQS, new rules

Find a Post

Compliance Archives

Lion - Quotes

I attended training from another provider and learned absolutely nothing. Lion is much better. Hands down.

Nicole Eby

Environmental Specialist

The course is well thought out and organized in a way that leads to a clearer understanding of the total training.

David Baily

Hazmat Shipping Professional

This course went above my expectations from the moment I walked in the door. The instructor led us through two days packed with useful compliance information.

Rachel Stewart

Environmental Manager

Lion's information is very thorough and accurate. Presenter was very good.

Melissa Little

Regulatory Manager

I tried other environmental training providers, but they were all sub-standard compared to Lion. I will not stray from Lion again!

Sara Sills

Environmental Specialist

Our instructor was very dynamic and kept everyone's interest. Hazmat shipping can be a dry, complicated topic but I was engaged the entire time.

Kimberly Arnao

Senior Director of EH&S

This is the best RCRA training I've experienced! I will be visiting Lion training again.

Cynthia L. Logsdon

Principal Environmental Engineer

No comparison. Lion has the best RCRA training ever!!

Matt Sabine

Environmental Specialist

The course was very well structured and covered the material in a clear, concise manner.

Ian Martinez

Hazmat Shipping Professional

The instructor clearly enjoys his job and transmits that enthusiasm. He made a dry subject very interesting and fun.

Teresa Arellanes

EHS Manager

Download Our Latest Whitepaper

Use this guide to help meet your OSH Act responsibilities to provide a safe, healthy workplace during a public health crisis.

Latest Whitepaper

By submitting your phone number, you agree to receive recurring marketing and training text messages. Consent to receive text messages is not required for any purchases. Text STOP at any time to cancel. Message and data rates may apply. View our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.