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Science and Innovations

New Ozone Rule Presents Difficulties for Arizona, Officials Say

US Census Bureau

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tightened its ozone standard yesterday. State officials say that puts many counties in Arizona out of compliance. 

Nine of the ten counties in Arizona monitored for ozone levels exceed the new standard more often than allowed. Officials with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality say it will be difficult to correct the problem.

Eric Massey, the agency’s air quality director, says Arizona doesn’t have the authority to regulate vehicle emissions, which is the state’s main source of ozone. He also says pollution drifting across state lines is another source that’s hard to curb.

Ozone is formed when pollutants from cars and other sources react with sunlight. It’s linked to respiratory issues and asthma attacks. Levels typically rise in the summer. Some critics say the EPA’s tightened standard still isn’t enough to protect public health.

Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.
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