A new EPA report shows ozone levels nationwide are at the lowest levels since 1980 thanks to steps being taken throughout the country to implement the nation's most protective ozone standard. The Ozone Report: Measuring Progress through 2003
lays the groundwork for planning and analysis to track progress toward attaining the EPA's eight-hour ozone standard and reporting the results to the public. According to the report, last year saw ozone levels substantially curbed because of favorable weather conditions and continuing reductions in emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds. Other findings:
- Ozone levels have decreased over the past 10 to 25 years. These reductions resulted from emission control programs;
- Ozone is at its lowest level nationally since 1980, but the downward trend is slowing; and
- Ozone trends vary by region; since 1980, the Northeast and West/Southwest have shown the greatest improvements, whereas other areas reveal a flatter trend.
The report concludes that ozone still threatens public health and the environment in a number of areas around the country. "The next steps in this strategy are to work with states to meet the new, more protective standards, clean up old power plants and remove the sulphur from diesel fuel," said EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt.
Areas of further investigation include regional ozone air quality patterns, more detailed emission estimates (including biogenics), meteorological effects on ozone trends, and regional and transcontinental transport of ozone and its precursors. Visit www.epa.gov/airtrends/ozone.html.