Tuesday, January 18, 2011

EPA Revises Lead Ambient Air Monitoring Requirements


Air Quality Testing for several parameters.
On December 14, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the final lead (Pb) ambient air monitoring requirements.  The purpose of this revision was to expand the nation’s lead monitoring network to better assess compliance with the revised National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for lead issued in 2008.  In 2008, EPA substantially strengthened the lead NAAQS by revising the level of the primary (health-based) standard from 1.5 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3) to 0.15 μg/m3, measured as total suspended particles (TSP).  The agency revised the secondary (welfare-based) standard to be identical to the primary standard.  EPA in this final rule (Dec. 2010) also changed the emission threshold that state monitoring agencies (such as New York State Department of Environmental Conservation [NYS DEC]) must use to determine if an air quality monitor should be placed near an industrial facility that emits lead. The new emission threshold is 0.5 tons per year (tpy), reduced from the previous threshold of 1.0 tpy. Any new monitors located near an emissions source must be operational no later than one year after this rule is published in the Federal RegisterEPA maintained a 1.0 tpy lead emission threshold for airports.  However, EPA is requiring a 1-year monitoring study of 15 additional airports (beyond those currently required to monitor at the existing 1.0 tpy emission threshold) for the New York area this includes Brookhaven and Republic airports. The study will help EPA determine whether airports that emit less than 1.0 tpy have the potential to cause the surrounding areas to exceed the lead NAAQS of 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3).  The monitors participating in the study must be operational no later than one year after this rule is published in the Federal Register.
EPA is also requiring lead monitoring in large urban areas (Core Based Statistical Areas, or CBSAs, with a population of 500,000 people or more).  Monitors will be located along with multi-pollutant ambient monitoring sites (known as the “NCore network”).  Lead monitoring at these sites will begin January 1, 2012.
  • The NCore network will consist of approximately 80 monitoring sites, of which 63 will be in large urban areas.  The requirement to add these monitors replaces an existing requirement to place lead monitors in each CBSA with a population of 500,000 or more people.
The above revisions were made based on comments received on EPA’s proposed revisions.
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