The United States Environmental Protection Agency is set to propose lower standards for ozone levels. The proposal comes after health studies showed detectable negative health impacts from ozone at the current level of 75 parts per billion.
Utah Division of Air Quality Director Bryce Bird said the state would have to develop a new plan to regulate air standards if the proposal is approved.
“The range that the Clean Air Science Advisory Committee had recommended would be between 60 and 70 parts per billion,” Bird explains. “Pretty much everywhere that we monitor in the state falls either within that range or above that range.”
Bird said controls just going into effect to regulate vehicle and power plant emissions will help with future ozone levels, but to what extent is unknown.
He says one of the biggest challenges Utah may face is how to deal with emissions created in other states or countries settling in Utah.
“In the desert valleys west of Salt Lake City and south of Salt Lake City we see high concentrations of ozone where there’s certainly no local emissions source that could be responsible for those concentrations,” Bird said.
Bird said Utah may have to work with other states to develop a plan of action that would address these transport emissions.
The official EPA proposal is expected to be released by the end of 2014; a decision on the proposed standards is not expected for a few years.
The last time the ozone standards were changed was in 2008, when standards were lowered from 85 ppb to the currently approved levels.