NEW RULES TO REDUCE OZONE
As part of New Jersey's goal to meet the
standards set for ozone by the federal Clean Air Act, the
Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is revising
its plan to reduce ozone levels. The new regulations are
in response to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
study that found that further emission reductions are necessary
for New Jersey to reach its air quality goals on time.
"The proposed rules are based on regional
strategies devised by the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC)
and should provide the necessary reductions in ozone and
the airborne pollutants that cause it," said DEP Commissioner
Bob Shinn. New Jersey and 11 other states from the Mid-Atlantic
and Northeast regions, along with the District of Columbia,
make up the OTC. The OTC is committed to using a regional
approach to reduce ozone.
Ozone is formed in the lower atmosphere
when oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds
(VOCs) combine with sunlight. This process is accelerated
in the intense heat of the summer months. The new regulations
are aimed at reducing VOC and NOx emissions from a variety
of sources. Many of the new rules are patterned after similar
rules formulated by the California Air Resource Board, considered
a leader in air pollution policy.
To reduce VOC emissions, many new control
measures will be proposed. These measures control the emissions
from mobile equipment repair and refinishing, solvent cleaning
operations, and portable fuel containers. Also, new programs
to enhance the efficiency of vapor recovery at gas stations
will be proposed. In addition, other proposals will limit
the amount of VOCs in consumer products and paints. A great
number of products will be affected, ranging from air fresheners
to nail polish remover.
To reduce NOx emissions, the new rules
and amendments would establish more stringent standards
and requirements for four categories of combustion sources:
boilers, stationary combustion turbines, stationary internal
combustion engines, and cement kilns. This proposal is,
in part, a reaction to the trend of commercial businesses
producing their own power on-site instead of buying it from
power companies. Some of these engines are used to generate
power during periods of peak demand. "A top priority is
to ensure that new power sources do not solve energy problems
by creating new environmental issues," said Shinn.
The EPA designates areas that have elevated
levels of ozone concentrations as nonattainment areas. Eighteen
of New Jersey's 21 counties are in nonattainment areas.
The EPA determined that the New York/Northern New Jersey
area must reduce its total emissions of VOCs and NOx by
92 tons per day, and the Philadelphia/Southern New Jersey
area by 65 tons per day to meet federal standards. Regulations
to be proposed are projected to meet those goals.
"We've made significant progress reducing
ozone levels since 1990," added Shinn, "and the new regulations
will continue that trend."
Ground-level ozone causes a variety of
human health effects. Repeated exposure to ozone pollution
may cause permanent damage to the lungs. Even when ozone
is present in low levels, inhaling it can trigger chest
pain, coughing, nausea, throat irritation and congestion.
It also can worsen bronchitis, heart disease, emphysema
and asthma and reduce lung capacity. Healthy people also
experience difficulty in breathing when exposed to ozone
pollution. Because ozone pollution usually forms in hot
weather, anyone who spends time outdoors in the summer may
be affected, particularly children, the elderly, outdoor
workers and people exercising.
Elevated ozone concentrations are also
damaging to crops and other plant life. It interferes with
the ability of plants to produce and store food, making
them more susceptible to disease, insects, other pollutants
and harsh weather. Ground-level ozone damages the foliage
of trees and other plants, ruining the landscape of cities,
parks, forests and recreation areas.
The NJDEP is seeking comment from the public
on all aspects of this proposed revision to the state's
clean air plan. Testimony will be received at a public hearing
today at 10 a.m. at the War Memorial in Trenton. Written
comments may be submitted to Stacey Roth, Office of Legal
Affair, NJDEP, PO Box 402, Trenton, NJ 08625.