Northeast Ohio is moving closer to complying with federal clean-air requirements on particulates, or soot.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has scheduled a public hearing for today on the state’s request that the federal EPA recognize that the air in the Akron-Cleveland area complies with the 2006 federal fine particulate standards.
The hearing will be at 2:30 p.m. at the Ohio EPA’s Northeast District Office, 2110 E. Aurora Road (state Route 82), Twinsburg.
The proposed redesignation affects Summit, Portage, Medina, Cuyahoga, Lake and Lorain counties.
Air data from 2008-10 show that the Akron-Cleveland area is meeting the 24-hour national fine particulate standard.
The six-county region still fails the federal annual limit for fine particulate, but it is possible that the Akron-Cleveland area could win that federal redesignation later this year, said air planner Vijay Nemalapuri of the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, a Cleveland-based planning agency.
The federal fine particulate standard regulates tiny soot particles that are 1/30th the diameter of human hair and can lodge deep in human lungs.
Northeast Ohio exceeded the federal limits four times in 2007, six in 2008, once in 2009 and eight times in 2010. There were two high readings in 2011, but there might have been more because the air monitor in Summit County malfunctioned, officials said.
The annual federal limit that all six counties now meet is a maximum of 15 micrograms of soot per cubic meter of air. The daily limit is 35 micrograms of soot per cubic meter of air.
Ohio must show that Northeast Ohio can comply with the federal limits for 10 years. That should be possible with new restrictions on coal-fired power plants and diesel-powered vehicles and enforcement actions, the EPA says.
Particulates have been associated with heart attacks, chronic bronchitis, asthma attacks and missed days of school and work.
There is a separate federal standard for larger particulates or soot, and Northeast Ohio complies, officials said.
Eight counties in the Akron area — the six above plus Geauga and Ashtabula counties — also fail federal limits on the pollutant ozone.
The area has been designated a “marginal nonattainment” area for ozone and must comply by December 2015.
Ozone can cause breathing problems for the elderly, children and asthmatics.
It is formed when nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds from vehicles, industries and coal-burning power plants combine in direct sunlight.
The Ohio EPA will accept public comment on the proposed redesignation until the close of business today via email to Erica Fetty at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jennifer Dines at email@example.com. The mailing address is Division of Air Pollution Control, Ohio EPA, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, OH 43216-1049.
The state proposal is available at www.epa.ohio.gov/dapc/SIP/2006.aspx. You can also call the Division of Air Pollution Control at 614-644-2270.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or firstname.lastname@example.org.