Current Attainment Status
The Clean Air Act, which was last amended in 1990, requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards for pollutants that can harm public health and the environment. The EPA has established National Ambient Air Quality Standards for six pollutants, called "criteria" pollutants. These include carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particle pollution (PM2.5 and PM10), and sulfur dioxide.
The West Michigan Clean Air Coalition strives to maintain attainment of and educate the public about two of these criteria pollutants--ozone and PM2.5. When either pollutant is expected to reach levels where sensitive groups might start to experience symptoms, meteorologists from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) will declare a Clean Air Action Day. On these days, the public is asked to participate in voluntary emission reduction activities, including carpooling, riding the bus, or delaying refueling or mowing their lawns to protect public health, the environment, and maintain attainment status of both pollutants.
The current attainment status for ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is outlined below.
All areas in Michigan are currently designated as attainment for the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) 2008 8-hour ozone standard of 75 ppb.
On October 26, 2015, EPA adopted new more protective National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ground-level ozone set at 70 ppb, based on extensive scientific evidence about ozone’s effects on public health. Currently, three counties in West Michigan--Allegan, Berrien, and Muskegon--are violating the latest ozone standard, and we are awaiting official non-attainment designations for West Michigan from the EPA. If these counties are designated as non-attainment, a new plan for reaching attainment will be needed. This reemphasizes the importance of individual actions taken by West Michigan residents who remain critical to our campaign to reduce ozone violations at area monitors.
Fine Particulate Matter
All counties in Michigan must meet an annual and daily standard for PM2.5. All of West Michigan is currently in attainment for the 2006 daily standard of 35 μg/m3. EPA issued final designations for the 2012 annual fine particulate standard of 12 μg/m3 on December 18, 2014. All of Michigan has been designated as “unclassifiable/attainment” for the annual standard. Click here to learn more.
Importance of Maintaining Attainment
Across the nation, areas with nonattainment status for the ozone standard are at a distinct disadvantage. People in poor air quality areas may incur added healthcare costs. Control measures to reduce emissions can increase costs for business and residents. New businesses are not allowed to increase emissions in the region, and more stringent air permitting requirements apply in nonattainment areas. If clean air cannot be maintained after redesignation to attainment, additional measures to reduce pollution must be implemented.
The likelihood of maintaining clean air is greatly improved when businesses and individuals voluntarily take steps to reduce emissions on days when the area is particularly vulnerable to unhealthy pollution levels. Your actions do make a difference in West Michigan's air quality, so please sign up for Clean Air Action Day notifications and consider alternatives to driving, especially on these sensitive days.