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County Board of Health Making Minor Changes to Air Quality Regulations

The Allegheny County Board of Health is accepting public comment on two proposed changes to air quality regulations. The changes are pretty minor, the first would get rid of the list of ambient air quality standards.

“That’s because whenever EPA updates these at the federal level, we have to go back and update our regulations. So just to make it easier and make sure that our regulations stay consistent with what’s happening at the federal level,” said Alaina Conner, pollution prevention and outreach coordinator at the county health department.

The revised regulation would reference what the state of Pennsylvania lists in their regulations, which is the EPA federal standard. Conner said that would make it easier for the county to have the most recent list of what the national ambient air quality standards are without having to go through various levels of approval to change the list. This, in essence, ensures the regulations are always up to date.

“When the EPA does all these studies and says, ‘this level of fine particulate matter is safe and if you go above it it’s unsafe for people.’ For people with asthma, people with respiratory disease – it’s important for every place in the country to meet that standard so everyone has a safe and good quality of life,” said Conner.

The change would also delete a reference to a sulfate standard. The Pennsylvania standard was revoked several years ago, but has remained in the county regulations. Another proposed change is simply a shift in language. Conner said it will update the way in which the County Council and County Executive are referred, and would add the air quality program manager to the list of people who can sign enforcement orders.

Public comment on the proposed changes is being accepted until January 9th. They will then have to be approved by the Board of Health.