CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has recommended that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designate the entire state of West Virginia as being in attainment with the 2015 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). The recommendation is based upon quality assured data submitted by the DEP’s Division of Air Quality (DAQ) from its EPA-approved statewide monitoring network. If EPA doesn’t modify the state’s recommended designation, it becomes effective Oct. 1, 2017.
“West Virginia already complied with the previous 2008 ozone standard statewide. I think the fact that our ozone design values have continued to decrease and we are meeting EPA’s most stringent ozone standard yet is a great testament to the success of our state and regional air pollution control programs,” said DEP Cabinet Secretary Randy C. Huffman.
On Oct. 1, 2015, the EPA revised the primary and secondary ozone NAAQS, strengthening both the standards from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 70 ppb. Primary standards are health-based to protect people; secondary standards provide protection against decreased visibility and damage to animals, crops, vegetation and buildings.
The DAQ operates an air monitoring network across the state which measures the concentration of ozone and other pollutants in the air. The ozone design values for West Virginia’s monitors for 2013 through 2015 ranged from 59 ppb in Greenbrier County to 67 ppb in Charleston, Vienna and Weirton. Preliminary data for 2014-2016 also show all monitoring sites’ values below 70 ppb.
Ground level ozone is not emitted directly into the air, but is created by a chemical reaction between oxides of nitrogen (NOX) and volatile organic compounds (VOC). A chemical reaction occurs when pollution emitted by cars, powers plants, refineries, chemical plants and other sources is exposed to sunlight. Ozone at ground level is harmful due to its effects on people and the environment. Ozone is also the main ingredient in smog.
In West Virginia, ozone is most likely to reach unhealthy levels on hot sunny days, which is why Ozone Monitoring Season runs from April 1 through Oct. 31. Ozone can be carried long distances by wind, so unhealthy levels in city environments can be transported to more rural areas.
Citizens can check West Virginia’s daily Air Quality Index at s daily Air Quality Index at s daily Air Quality Index at s daily Air Quality Index at s daily Air Quality Index at dep.wv.gov/daq/air-monitoring/Pages/AirQualityIndex.aspx
or by calling 866-568-6649, extension 274. More information on West Virginia’s air quality is available on DAQ’s website: s website: s website: s website: s website: www.dep.wv.gov/daq/
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. Also, be sure to connect with the agency on all social media platforms. Follow @DEPWV on Twitter and find us on YouTube by searching “Environment Matters.” For specific information about our REAP (Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan), West Virginia Project WET (Water Education for Teachers), West Virginia Watershed Improvement Branch, Youth Environmental Program and Human Resources initiatives, connect on Facebook.