Release 08-48
May 22, 2008

    Leo Kay
(916) 849-9843

ARB approves Valley particulate matter plan
State adds several contingency measures to make sure health standards are met

The Air Resources Board today approved a particulate matter pollution control plan for the San Joaquin Valley that will meet federal health standards by the 2014 deadline.

Though the proposed plan had met all legal and technical requirements under the federal Clean Air Act, the Board directed the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to add a number of contingency measures today to strengthen its regulations on fireplaces, boilers, and industrial engines.

Local measures such as a strong residential wood smoke rule and one of the state's toughest regulations on boilers and glass furnaces will combine with ARB's recently passed off-road construction rule and the upcoming proposed truck regulation to allow the Valley to meet federal fine particulate matter standards by 2014. Parts of the Valley already comply with the particulate matter standard, with southern regions suffering from the worst air quality.

"The combined efforts of ARB and the local air district continue to lower soot levels in the Valley every year but we still need to go further," said ARB Chairman Mary Nichols. "By adding a few important safeguards, we are approving a solid plan that will help all Valley residents breathe easier."

Concentrations of fine particulate matter have decreased 45 percent in the San Joaquin Valley regions since 1999, when official year-round reporting began. The plan approved today reduces fine particulate matter exposure by lowering oxides of nitrogen emissions by almost 50 percent and fine particulate matter emissions by over 25 percent from 2005 levels. The plan is based on the $27 million "California Regional Particulate Matter Study," which provides the strongest scientific foundation in the nation for a particulate matter plan.

Today's plan approval marks another important development in cleaning up the Valley's air over the past year. Since Nichols joined the Board in July, ARB has:

ARB, the Air District and the United States Environmental Protection Agency will participate in a technology forum to be held at University California, Merced on July 9 to explore new advancements that will be needed to obtain future reductions to meet the U.S. EPA's new more stringent standard for which a revised plan will be due in 2012.

Fine particulate matter emissions are associated with causing a variety of health effects including premature death and a number of heart and lung diseases.

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District approved the fine particulate matter state implementation plan April 30.

The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.