EPA Revises Fine Particle Designations for Five Kentucky Counties

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has revised air quality designations for fine particle pollution in five Kentucky counties. Air monitoring data demonstrates improved air quality in Campbell, Kenton, Boone, Jefferson and Bullitt counties.

“Air Quality in Kentucky continues to improve steadily,” said Kentucky Division for Air Quality (DAQ) director Sean Alteri.  “The most recent data demonstrates that the Louisville and Kentucky metropolitan statistical areas are in compliance with federal air quality standards for fine particulate matter.”

On Dec. 18, 2014, EPA issued designations for the 2012 annual national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for fine particulate matter (PM2.5).  EPA strengthened the standard in 2012 and initially designated the Louisville and northern Kentucky areas as nonattainment (not meeting the standard).  The nonattainment designations were based on air monitoring data collected from 2011 through 2013.

In January, DAQ requested that EPA consider 2014 ambient air monitoring data before designations become effective on April 15, 2015.  Air monitoring data collected from 2014 showed significant emissions reductions in the area.

Measurable improvements in air quality are occurring and will continue in the near future.  In 2014, Duke Energy shut down its Beckjord electric generating facility. The Beckjord facility significantly impacted the Northern Kentucky area.  Additionally, this week LG&E announced the closure of its Cane Run No. 6 coal-fired electric generating unit located in Louisville.

“These shutdowns, along with other emissions reductions in the area, will further improve air quality in Kentucky,” said Alteri.  “Improved air quality will benefit the health of the Commonwealth’s citizens.”

Fine particulate matter is composed of microscopic particles or droplets in the air that measure 2.5 microns or less in diameter, or about 30 times smaller than the width of a human hair.  Particles of this size are hazardous to human health because they can easily be inhaled deep into lungs and even cross into the bloodstream.  Major sources of PM2.5 include vehicle exhaust as well as fossil fuel and wood burning.