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Ohio EPA Requests Recognition of Improved Air Quality in Belmont County

Public Hearing to be Held April 5

The State of Ohio plans to ask U.S. EPA to officially recognize that air quality in Belmont County meets the 1997 federal fine particulate standard. Belmont County is part of the Wheeling, W.V., metropolitan area for air quality purposes.

An Ohio EPA public hearing to take comments on the proposal will be held on April 5, 2012. The hearing will begin at 3 p.m., at the Martins Ferry Library, 20 James Wright Place, Martins Ferry.

Air quality data from 2008-2010 show that the Wheeling area is meeting the 1997 national fine particulate matter standard. When asking for redesignation, states are required to demonstrate that the metropolitan area will be able to maintain compliance with the fine particulate standard for 10 years. Current national, state and local air pollution controls to limit particulate emissions will enable the area to maintain the air quality, including: lower emissions from coal-burning power plants, additional controls on diesel-powered vehicles and enforcement efforts.

Ohio’s proposed redesignation request only affects Belmont County. West Virginia would need to submit a separate request to U.S. EPA to redesignate counties in its state associated with this area.

The national fine particulate standard regulates tiny particles, about 1/30th the diameter of a human hair, which lodge deep in human lungs. Particulate matter has been associated with heart attacks, chronic bronchitis, asthma attacks and missed days of school and work.

Comments on the redesignation proposal can be submitted until the close of business on April 5, by email or mail to Erica Fetty, Division of Air Pollution Control, Ohio EPA, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, Ohio, 43216-1049. The proposal is available online or by calling Ohio EPA’s Division of Air Pollution Control at (614) 644-2270.

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