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Regional Haze

Air pollution can scatter and absorb light, limiting visibility and obscuring color and clarity. When visibility is reduced over large regions it is called Regional Haze. Haze makes the outline of a skyline or a natural vista difficult to see. For real-time pictures from New Jersey showing how haze obscures the skyline check out the haze camera at

In the eastern United States, the largest contributor to visibility impairment is sulfates, accounting for over 70 to 80 % of the visibility impairment on the worst days. Other pollutants that affect visibility include oxides of nitrogen (NOx), light absorbing carbon, organic carbon, soil, and course material. Most of these are the same pollutants that comprise fine particulate matter for which the urbanized areas of the State are in non-attainment of the annual health standard.

The Federal Clean Air Act of 1990 authorizes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect and improve visibility in the 156 federally-designated Class I areas (national parks and wilderness areas). New Jersey is home to one Class I area: the Brigantine Wilderness Area of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, located in southern New Jersey. In 1999, the USEPA issued requirements for all states, including New Jersey, to address haze caused by numerous sources over large geographic areas and return visibility levels within all Class I areas to their natural conditions by the year 2064. Since enactment of this Regional Haze rule, New Jersey joined a consortium of mid-Atlantic and northeastern States in the MANE-VU Regional Planning Organization to address this issue locally and regionally. New Jersey submitted its final State Implementation Plan revision to address regional haze visibility impairment on July 28, 2009 to begin the process of returning air quality within New Jersey’s Class I area to natural conditions. For more details, click here.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has prepared a 5-year progress report for the Regional Haze State Implementation Plan revision for public review and comment. The report documents New Jersey’s continued progress in reducing emissions within the State resulting in improved visibility levels and demonstrates that the Department will meet New Jersey’s 2018 visibility goal at its Class I area: the Brigantine Wilderness Area in the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge (Brigantine Wilderness Area).