Upstate, SC [October 1, 2015] – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced new 8-hour National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone. The public health based standards call for a strengthening of the attainment level from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 70 ppb. Based on the most recent monitoring results through the 2014 ozone season, the Upstate region would be in compliance with the new standards as the highest testing monitor in the region had a level of 66 ppb.
    “That the Upstate looks to be within attainment of the new ozone standard is obviously great news,” said Dean Hybl, Executive Director of Ten at the Top, which coordinates the Upstate Air Quality Advisory Committee. “Considering that the Upstate monitors had levels above 80 ppb a decade ago and were at 73 ppb in 2011, it shows that the voluntary local efforts by many governments, organizations and businesses from across the region have been working.
    “Having clean air that meets the EPA standards is crucial for the health of all Upstate residents and is also important because it means that manufacturers and needed transportation projects in the region will not be subject to additional regulations and costs.”
    According to Hybl, the history of collaboration amongst communities and businesses in the Upstate deserves a great deal of the credit for the dramatic improvement the Upstate region has made in air quality over the last 15 years. The ozone levels in the Upstate have declined from 95 ppb in 2000 to 83 ppb in 2006 and 73 ppb in 2011 to the current levels. Though the final 2015 monitor numbers will not be available for several weeks, the region had only one Ozone Alert Day during a hot summer.
    Anderson, Greenville and Spartanburg counties first came together to start the EPA Early Action Compact (EAC) process in 2002 and were soon joined by other Upstate counties along with public, private and non-profit organizations, businesses and industries. This regional effort led to the Upstate remaining within compliance of the standards at that time and set the foundation for the continued decline in ozone emissions that has continued.
    “This is a perfect example of an issue that needed to be addressed both through local actions and regional partnerships,” Hybl said. “The cumulative impact of communities and businesses working to ensure cleaner air has a positive impact on all Upstate residents.”