- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
The agency is taking comment on a proposal to establish a new national one-hour SO2 standard, between 50 and 100 parts per billion (ppb). The standard was designed, according to an agency press release, to protect against short-term exposures ranging from five minutes to 24 hours. Because the revised standards would be more protective, the EPA is concurrently proposing to revoke the current 24-hour and annual SO2 health standards.
"Short-term exposures to peak SO2 levels can have significant health effects – especially for children and the elderly – and leave our families and taxpayers saddled with high health care costs," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "We're strengthening clean air standards, stepping up monitoring and reporting in communities most in need, and providing the American people with protections they rightly deserve."
The EPA also is proposing changes to monitoring and reporting requirements for SO2. Monitors would be placed in areas with high SO2 emission levels as well as in urban areas. The proposal also would change the Air Quality Index to reflect the revised SO2 standards.
The proposal addresses only the SO2 primary standards, which are designed to protect public health. EPA will address the secondary standard – designed to protect the public welfare, including the environment – as part of a separate proposal in 2011, the agency said.
The EPA first set National Ambient Air Quality Standards for SO2 in 1971, establishing both a primary standard to protect health and a secondary standard to protect the public welfare. Annual average SO2 concentrations have decreased by more than 71 percent since 1980.
The public comment period will be open for 60 days after the proposal is published in the Federal Register. The agency will hold a public hearing on Jan. 5, 2010 in Atlanta. The EPA must issue final standards by June 2, 2010.