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Department Publications

Environmental Protection Agency Classifies
Phoenix Area as Serious for Carbon Monoxide

This past July, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that the Phoenix metropolitan area has not attained the carbon monoxide (CO) national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS), and thus has been reclassified from "moderate" to "serious".

Under the Clean Air Act, pollution classifications are established for levels of carbon monoxide, ozone and particulates when they exceed the federal government's air-quality standards. When areas exceed health standards, they are seen as having nonattainment.

The intent of the reclassification is to allow the state of Arizona 18 months from the EPA's action in July to submit a new state implementation plan (SIP) which will demonstrate how attainment of the CO NAAQS will be met.

Under the Clean Air Act, states in nonattainment areas must develop a SIP, which contains the regulations it will use to clean up the polluted areas. For the CO pollution in Maricopa County, attainment should be met as expeditiously as practical, but no later than December 31, 2000.

Carbon monoxide is a tasteless, odorless and poisonous gas that threatens a person's health by restricting the body's absorption of oxygen. The pollutant is generally at risk for exceeding health standards in the Valley during the months of October through March.

The primary source of carbon monoxide is vehicle exhaust, while other sources include emissions from large industry, airplanes and fireplaces. On five occasions during the 1995/96 season (October 1 through March 1), carbon monoxide exceeded the ambient health levels. While air quality in the Valley has improved over the years due to stringent air pollution programs (89 CO violations were recorded in 1987), it has not improved enough to keep up with the continued growth and increase in traffic in the Phoenix area.

As a major employer in Maricopa County, the Maricopa Community Colleges participates in the County's Trip Reduction Program, which is one of the measures geared towards reducing air pollution. (Other measures include reformulated gasoline and enhanced vehicle emissions testing.)

During this year's high pollution advisory season, advisories from District Trip Reduction will be posted via the District's electronic mail system in the event that carbon monoxide approaches unhealthy levels.

Carbon monoxide levels can be curtailed by driving less, avoiding drive-through services and not using wood-burning fireplaces during the period in which the advisory is in effect. Other options include staggered hours to avoid peak rush hour traffic (before 4:00 p.m.) and telecommuting to eliminate travel to the worksite.

Options regarding a change in work schedule should have prior supervisor approval. For assistance with carpooling, call District Trip Reduction at 480-731-8885.

Published in the Winter 1997 Edition of In Brief

Questions or comments?
Contact Gerry Bradshaw @ 480.731.8885

Maricopa Community Colleges
Office of General Counsel
2411 West 14th Street
Tempe, AZ 85281-6942
480.731.8877 / 480.731.8890 fax

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