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Monday, January 31, 2011

EPA Proposes To Retain Carbon Monoxide Standard

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to keep the current national air quality standards for carbon monoxide (CO). EPA has preliminarily concluded that the current standards will protect people, especially those susceptible to health problems associated with breathing CO from the outdoor air. CO can cause harmful health effects by reducing oxygen delivery to the body’s organs (like the heart and brain) and tissues. At extremely high levels, CO can cause death.

The current health standards are 9 parts per million (ppm) measured over 8 hours, and 35 ppm measured over 1 hour. The proposed changes would require a more focused monitoring network with CO monitors placed near highly trafficked roads in urban areas with populations of 1 million or more. The data from these sites would be available for scientific studies that could help inform future reviews of the standard.

EPA estimates that the proposal would require approximately 77 CO monitors in 53 urban areas. EPA expects that states would not need to purchase new monitoring equipment. They could relocate some of their existing CO monitors to the near-road monitoring stations already required in connection with the revised nitrogen dioxide standards issued in January 2010. CO monitors at the new locations would be required to be operational by January 1, 2013.

CO is a colorless, odorless gas emitted from combustion processes. Nationally and, particularly in urban areas, the majority of CO emissions come from motor vehicles.

EPA will accept comments for 60 days after the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register. If requested, the agency will hold a public hearing on the proposed rule on Feb. 18, 2011. EPA will take final action by Aug. 12, 2011.

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