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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 22, 2014

Contact:  Lawrence Ragonese (609) 292-2994
Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
Bob Considine (609) 984-1795

CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES THAT NEW JERSEY MEETS NEW,
MORE STRINGENT FEDERAL STANDARD FOR HARMFUL AIR POLLUTANT

(14/P142) TRENTON – In yet another positive step for air quality in New Jersey, the Christie Administration today announced that the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has notified the state that New Jersey is in compliance with the new and more stringent federal health standard for fine particles, a type of air pollutant that can cause serious health problems, especially in vulnerable populations.

In a Dec. 18 letter to Governor Chris Christie, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy states that New Jersey meets the strengthened standard of 12 micrograms per cubic meter that went into effect Dec. 14. This builds on New Jersey success in 2013, when for the first time the state was designated by EPA as meeting the then-federal standard of 15 micrograms per cubic meter.

“New Jersey’s compliance with this even more stringent federal standard is good news for the health of our residents, especially the young, the elderly, and those with chronic respiratory conditions who are particularly at risk to this pollutant,” said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin. “It is a result of the Administration’s commitment to addressing out-of-state sources of air pollution that impact our air quality while continuing to insist on the highest control standards for sources within New Jersey’s borders.”

Particulate matter is the term for particles found in the air, including dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets. Sources of fine particles include all types of combustion activities including motor vehicles, power plants, wood burning, and certain industrial processes.  Other particles may be indirectly formed when gases from burning fuels react with sunlight and water vapor.

Specifically, the EPA has notified the state that it meets the new daily and annual health standards for fine particles, also known as Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5. PM 2.5 particles are two and one half microns or less in width, or approximately 1/30th the width of a human hair.  According to EPA, fine particles may pose the greatest health risks of all air pollutants because they can lodge deeply into the lungs.

Exposure to fine particles can cause short-term health effects such as eye, nose, throat and lung irritation, coughing, sneezing, runny nose and shortness of breath. Exposure to fine particles can also affect lung function and worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease.

The State manages air quality with ambient air monitoring, inventories of sources, emission reduction plans, rules, permits, stack testing, air quality modeling and risk assessment, and vehicle inspections and enforcement.

“We have worked tirelessly to control emissions from a variety of sources, including coal-fired power plants, diesel engines and motor vehicles,” Commissioner Martin said. “New Jersey has also become a national leader in the development of renewable energy, while promoting greater use of cleaner burning natural gas. We are confident that, as a result of our sound policies, we will continue to meet the standard for fine particles into the future.”

“Meeting the fine particles standard is great news, but not surprising news,” said Jane Herndon, DEP’s Assistant Commissioner for Environmental Management.  “Levels of fine particles in our air have been declining steadily due largely to the use of sophisticated emissions controls at our power plants and other stationary sources and to enforcement of stricter federal vehicle emissions standards.

For a copy of the EPA Administrator’s letter, please visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/docs/pm-nj.pdf

For more information on the EPA fine particles air quality designation process, visit: www.epa.gov/pmdesignations

For the 2013 news release announcing New Jersey’ first-time attainment of the particulate standard, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/newsrel/2013/13_0082.htm

For more information on air quality in New Jersey, including a link to information about the state’s air monitoring network and daily air quality reports, please visit: the Division of Air Quality website at: http://www.nj.gov/dep/daq/

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Last Updated: December 22, 2014