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NJ DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION NEWS RELEASE
RELEASE: 9/1/98
98/110
CONTACT: Amy Collings
609-984-1795 or 609-292-2994

NEW JERSEY RECORDS STEEP DROP IN SMOG;
STATE COMMITTED TO MEETING EVEN TOUGHER AIR QUALITY GOAL

[Find out today's Air Quality] With the close of the summer ozone season approaching, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection recorded only four violations of the Federal air quality standard for ground level ozone, a decline of more than 90 percent since 1988.

This summer, the state on only four days exceeded the current federal regulatory standard for ground level ozone. The standard allows a maximum of 120 parts per million (ppm) over a one-hour period. However, the U.S. EPA last summer adopted a much tougher health standarad of no more than 80 ppm over an eight-hour period. By that standard, which was adopted with the support of the Whitman Administration, the air in New Jesey was unhealthful 39 times this summer.

"The progress we have made over the past decade in sharply reducing violations of the one-hour ozone standard proves that with the right mix of policy and technology, we can reduce pollution levels while enjoying the benefits of a robust economy," State Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Shinn said. "Our success to date should give all New Jersey residents confidence that we can further reduce ozone air pollution and eventually meet the more protective eight-hour standard."

Shinn said emission control efforts implemented over the past two decades are succeeding in reducing ground-level ozone, or "smog" as it is commonly known. Although the state has yet to meet the new health-based standard, the progress in curbing ozone air pollution is undeniable, Shinn said.

In 1988, New Jersey exceeded the federal standard for ozone on 45 days at sites statewide. This summer only four of the 15 air monitoring stations recorded violations of the one-hour federal ozone standard. In recent years ozone levels in all parts of the state are normally within Federal standards, except for a few sites downwind of the Philadelphia metropolitan area.

"This is a significant and measurable record of achievement," said Shinn. "Ozone is the nation's most persistent and acute air pollution problem and no state has made more progress reducing ozone than has New Jersey."

Shinn this week forwarded to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) documentation on the attainment of goals in the state's clean air plan.

DEP has proposed new, more stringent regulations to reduce oxides of nitrogen (NOx), a key component of ozone. The Whitman Administration is urging EPA to adopt a proposal that would sharply reduce NOx emissions from 22 eastern and midwestern states including New Jersey.

"Reducing NOx emissions from out-of-state sources, combined with further emission reductions from in-state sources, is the key to achieving the new health-based federal ozone standard," Shinn said.

The DEP maintains an air quality hotline for residents to call and learn the daily forecast. Unhealthful air quality is forecast when ozone levels approach the new federal standard. These forecasts are also faxed to radio and TV stations, newspapers and wire service offices for daily weather reports. This practice has been followed throughout the ozone season. DEP will soon announce new public health notification initiatives.

On Monday, Commissioner Shinn submitted to the U.S. EPA the state's plan to meet the one-hour standard for ozone by 2005 in southern New Jersey and by 2007 in northern New Jersey. The plan relies on continued implementation of the Clean Air Act and other measures such as EPA's regional program to require 22 eastern states to cap NOx emissions.

Threatened federal sanctions still remain as the state needs to revise its plan to reduce volatile organic compounds, due to the delayed implementation of the enhanced auto inspection program. The revised plan will soon be submitted to EPA.

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