Our air is cleaner

YOUNGSTOWN — The air quality of Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties has improved because of a reduction in nitrogen oxides and cleaner vehicle emissions.

That change is prompting the state to ask the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to officially recognize that the local air quality meets the federal air quality standard for ozone.

Mercer County, Pa., is part of the same monitoring area, and that state’s environmental agency is working with OEPA in submitting the request for redesignation.

A public hearing on the request for redesignation, conducted today at Eastgate Regional Council of Governments offices, drew only one speaker.

Larry Himes of the Mahoning-Trumbull Air Pollution Control Agency said his agency supports the redesignation.

Air quality data collected from 2004 through 2006 show that the counties meet the national ozone standard.

Monitors located in various parts of the area measure air quality.

As part of the request for redesignation, the state must show that the metropolitan area will be able to maintain compliance with the standard for 10 years.

OEPA officials say that the counties can continue to meet the standard because of programs such as regulations to reduce nitrogen oxides from coal-burning power plants throughout the state and because of cleaner air as a result of newer vehicles’ replacing older models.

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