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State Of Air Quality - August 2016

In December 2002, the counties Anderson, Greenville, and Spartanburg set in motion a series of activities and strategies toward improving air quality upon signing the Early Action Compact with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. The goal was to meet the 1997 8-hour ground level ozone standard (0.084 parts per million) established by the EPA. Proactively participating in the EAC gave an opportunity to the counties to meet the standard ahead of the federally-mandated compliance date of December 31, 2007.

In early 2008, the EPA designated the Upstate SC as an attainment area with respect to the 1997 ground level ozone standard. In December 2012, EPA strengthened the annual health PM2.5 standard to 12 µg/m³ and retained the 24-hour fine particle standard of 35 µg/m³. EPA has indicated that most of the country already meets the annual PM2.5 standard of 12 µg/m³. EPA also projects that 99% of U.S. counties with monitors would meet the annual fine particle health standard in 2020.

In 2012, EPA issued designations for the 2008 ground level ozone standard. With the exception of the Rock Hill (SC)/Charlotte (NC) area, EPA designated the remaining of South Carolina as an "unclassifiable/attainment" area. As of August 2016, the Upstate SC region enjoys an "attainment/unclassifiable" designation for both ground level Ozone and PM2.5.

On October 1, 2015, EPA announced that it strengthened the air quality standard for ground level ozone from 75 ppb to 70 ppb. Based on current design values, it is expected that Greenville County and the Upstate SC will continue to be in attainment with respect to this criteria pollutant. It is also expected that SCDHEC recommendations to the EPA (due in October 2016) on ozone designations will be based on the 2013-2015 design values. EPA's final decision on designations is due October 1, 2017, and will likely be based on the 2014-2016 design values.

Air quality improved in Greenville County while there has been an increase in capital investment and jobs creation between 2008 and 2011. The net change in total NOx and VOC emissions represented a decrease of 1,075 tons in the county, with NOx emission accounting for 830 tons of that decrease. Since the Upstate South Carolina is a NOx-limited area and, in order, to meet future and tighter ground level ozone NAAQS, more needs to be done to decrease NOx emissions, especially in the transportation field.

Air Quality Infographic

Upstate Air Quality Improvement Committee Information
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