Federal Standard Area Designations

This page last reviewed September 7, 2016

Recent Activities


On October 1, 2015, the U.S. EPA lowered the federal 8-hour primary and secondary ozone standard.  Further information can be found in the Ozone Federal Standard section below.

Background

The Federal Clean Air Act requires the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) to set national ambient air quality standards (federal standards). The federal standards are further categorized as primary standards and secondary standards. The primary standards are meant to protect public health, whereas the secondary standards are meant to protect the public welfare from any known or anticipated adverse effects.  

A complete and current list of federal standards can be found on the U.S. EPA website. A list of nonattainment areas can also be found on the U.S. EPA website.

Pollutant-Specific Activities


OZONE FEDERAL STANDARD

On October 1, 2015, U.S. EPA lowered the federal 8-hour primary and secondary ozone standard from 0.075 parts per million (ppm) to 0.070 ppm.  The updated standard will improve public health protection, particularly for at-risk groups including children, older adults, people of all ages with lung disesases such as asthma, and people who are active outdoors, both for recreational and work purposes.  It will also improve the health of trees, plants, and ecosystems.  More information on the standard, including a number of factsheets and the U.S. EPA implemenntation memo can be found on the U.S. EPA Ground-Level Ozone Regulatory Actions website.  As the first step in the implementation process,  the State of California will recommend initial area designations  to U.S. EPA by October 1, 2016.  U.S. EPA is required to promulgate final area designations by October 1, 2017.  .

On December 3, 2012, U.S. EPA published a final notice determining the following 7 areas had attained the 1997 federal 8-hour ozone standard:  Amador and Calaveras Counties (Central Mountain Counties), Chico (Butte County), Eastern Kern County (Mojave Desert Air Basin portion of County), Mariposa and Tuolumne Counties (Southern Mountain Counties), Western Nevada County, Sutter County (Sutter Buttes), and Ventura County (excluding the Channel Islands -- Anacapa and San Nicolas islands) (Federal Register Notice published December 3, 2012; Final Rule effective January 2, 2013).

On April 30, 2012, U.S. EPA issued final area designations and classifications for the 2008 8-hour ozone standard. The designations include two new nonattainment areas -- Eastern San Luis Obispo County and the Tuscan Buttes area of Tehama County (Federal Register Notice for area designations published May 21, 2012;  Federal Register Notice for area classifications published May 21, 2012; Both Final Rules are effective July 20, 2012).  

U.S. EPA issued a Final Rule on April 27, 2012, to reclassify Subpart 1 areas under the 1997 8-hour ozone standard (Federal Register Notice published May 14, 2012; Final Rule effective June 13, 2012).

ARB staff submitted initial area designation recommendations in March 2009. EPA delayed implementation of the standard and after reconsideration, invited states to submit revised area designation recommendations, based on more recent data. ARB staff submitted revised recommendations on October 12, 2011. Both the initial and the revised submittal packages and U.S. EPA's response are available on the U.S. EPA website.

In March 2008, U.S. EPA revised the 8-hour ozone standard (Federal Register Notice published March 27, 2008; Final Rule effective May 27, 2008).

More information about activities related to the federal ozone standard can be found on both the ARB website and the U.S. EPA website.


SULFUR DIOXIDE PRIMARY FEDERAL STANDARDS

On February 15, 2013, U.S. EPA published notice in the Federal Register of proposed nonattainment designations for the 2010 primary federal sulfur dioxide (SO2) standards.  No California areas are included in the proposal; all areas of the State remain undesignated. 

On August 3, 2012, U.S. EPA published notice extending the deadline for designating areas with respect to the 2010 primary federal SO2 standard for up to 1 year.  U.S. EPA now has until June 3, 2013, to complete the initial designations (Federal Register Notice published August 3, 2012).

ARB staff submitted area designation recommendations on June 20, 2011. The full submittal package is available via the following links: 


In June 2010, U.S.EPA revised the primary SO2 standards (Federal Register Notice published June 22, 2010; Final Rule effective August 23, 2010).

Additional information about activities related to SO2 can be found on U.S. EPA's SO2 home page.

          

NITROGEN DIOXIDE PRIMARY FEDERAL STANDARDS

On November 15, 2012, the Air Resources Board approved a revision to the State Implementation Plan (SIP) to address the infrastructure requirements for implementing the 2010 federal nitrogen dioxide (NO2) standards.  The NO2 Infrastructure SIP was submitted to U.S. EPA in December 2012, and is available on the web.  All areas in California are designated as attainment/unclassified for the federal NO2 standards.

U.S. EPA issued final area designations in January 2012 (Federal Register Notice published February 17, 2012; Final Rule effective February 29, 2012).

ARB staff submitted recommended area designations on January 24, 2011. The full submittal package and U.S. EPA's response are available on the U.S. EPA website.

In January 2010, U.S. EPA revised the primary nitrogen dioxide (NO2) standards (Federal Register Notice published February 9, 2010; Final Rule effective April 12, 2010).

Additional information about activities related to NO2 can be found on U.S. EPA's NO2 home page.

     

SULFUR DIOXIDE & NITROGEN DIOXIDE SECONDARY FEDERAL STANDARDS

In March 2012, U.S. EPA took final action to retain the existing SO2 and NO2 secondary standards (Federal Register Notice published April 3, 2012; Final Rule effective June 4, 2012).

Additional information about activities
related to the secondary standards can be found on U.S. EPA's NO2/SO2 secondary standards webpage.

 

LEAD FEDERAL STANDARD

On May 24, 2012, the Air Resources Board approved a revision to the State Implementation Plan (SIP) to address attainment of the federal lead standard in the South Coast Air Basin portion of Los Angeles County. This is the only area in California designated as nonattainment for lead. The SIP revision for lead was submitted to U.S. EPA for approval by the June 30, 2012, deadline. Additional information about this item is found on ARB's South Coast Air Quality Management Plans webpage. ARB previously submitted a SIP revision addressing the infrastructure requirements for lead. The Lead Infrastructure SIP is also available on the web.

U.S. EPA issued a second set of final area designations on November 8, 2011 (Federal Register Notice published November 22, 2011; Final Rule effective December 31, 2011). 

U.S. EPA issued its initial set of final area designations on November 16, 2010 (Federal Register Notice published November 22, 2010; Final Rule effective December 31, 2010).

ARB staff submitted recommended area designations on October 14, 2009. The full submittal package and U.S. EPA's response are available on the U.S. EPA website.

In October 2008, U.S. EPA revised the primary lead standard (Federal Register Notice published November 12, 2008; Final Rule effective January 12, 2009).

Additional information about activities related to lead can be found on U.S. EPA's lead home page.

PM2.5 FEDERAL STANDARDS

Annual PM2.5 Standard.  On December 14, 2012, U.S. EPA lowered the federal primary PM2.5 annual standard from 15.0 micrograms per cubic meter to 12.0 micrograms per cubic meter. U.S. EPA made no changes to the primary 24-hour PM2.5 standard or to the seconday PM2.5 standards. ARB staff recommendations for nonattainment area boundaries for the revised annual standard can be found on ARB's  Area Designations for the Federal PM2.5 Standard webpage.

ARB staff will submit these recommendations in December 2013.  These nonattainment area recommendations are based on 2010 through 2012 monitoring data; the U.S. EPA will base  final area designations on 2011 through 2013 monitoring data.

24-Hour PM2.5 Standard.  In December 2006, U.S. EPA strengthened the 24-hour PM2.5 standard from 65 ug/m3 to 35 ug/m3 (Federal Register Notice published October 17, 2006; Final Rule effective December 18, 2006).

Additional information about activities related to PM2.5 can be found on both the ARB website and the U.S. EPA website.



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