Region’s high-ozone tag by EPA ‘unfair’
By Maria Amante firstname.lastname@example.org/648-3072 June 1, 2012 7:40PM
Updated: July 7, 2012 8:07AM
The Environmental Protection Agency has deemed air quality in Northwest Indiana to be in violation of federal ozone standards, but state officials say the area’s air quality is fine.
Air in Lake and Porter counties is in “marginal” violation of ozone-levels standards, the EPA said.
However, the state said this rating comes as a result of the counties being grouped in a Chicago metropolitan statistical area, which includes areas in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.
Governors in all three states were informed Thursday that they have until 2015 to meet 2008 ozone standards of 0.75 parts per million.
“Northwest Indiana air quality is good and clearly attains all standards,” said Amy Hartsock, a spokeswoman for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. “Ozone concentrations in Northwest Indiana are some of the lowest in the entire state. It is unfair that Indiana is included in the nonattainment area boundary for the Chicago MSA and is being held hostage until Chicago meets the standard.”
One of 22 regional monitors tested in noncompliance, said Kay Nelson, director of environmental affairs at the Northwest Indiana Forum.
“It’s up in northeast Illinois, I think up by Zion, which is by the Wisconsin border,” she said. “It’s a long ways away.”
According to the Northwest Indiana Forum, an economic development group in the region, the average daily value of ozone is 0.064 parts per million in Lake County, and 0.065 ppm in Porter County, Nelson said.
The EPA’s standard for ozone is 0.75 ppm.
No further action or additional rules are needed in order to comply with EPA standards, Hartsock said.
She also said economic development will be restricted due to the more stringent permitting requirements from a nonattainment designation.
Ozone is a key ingredient in smog and can create respiratory issues or trigger respiratory issues in individuals with pre-existing conditions.