EPA clamping down on Ozone standards


Courtesy of Catalytic Products International (CPI)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is preparing to again lower its ozone standard.

This action reduces the amount of ozone that is allowed in the air we breathe and thus forces more industrial sources to further reduce their air pollution emissions.

In this white paper we look at:

  • What will happen when the new ozone standard is finalized; and
  • Ways to deal with new requirements in a cost-effective manner.

While ozone is a good thing when it’s high up in the atmosphere, where it protects us from harmful solar radiation, it’s not nearly as desirable at ground-level, in the air we breathe.

Too much ground-level ozone (sometimes called “smog”) can contribute to breathing problems, particularly among the very young, the very old, and people who suffer from asthma.

As part of its duties under the Clean Air Act, EPA is charged with managing ozone in the air we breathe

Ozone is formed as the result of the reaction of two common air pollutants:

  1. Nitrogen oxides (NOx)
  2. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

The most significant sources of NOx are power plants and motor vehicles and, while EPA will take further action regarding those emissions, we won’t cover that part of the equation. Instead, we’ll focus on VOCs, because a wide variety of manufacturers and other industrial sources are most affected by new VOC regulations whenever the ozone standard is lowered.

In January 2010, EPA announced its intention to lower the ozone standard from the current value of 75 parts per billion to at least 70 and as little as 60 parts per billion. Final action to set the new standard is expected in 2011.

As a result of this action, hundreds of counties across the nation that were previously in compliance with clean air standards no longer will be and hundreds of other counties will be farther than ever from meeting clean air goals.

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