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Air Quality Program

Air Quality Standards

Ozone Designation
Public Comment:

Ecology's proposed recommendation is available for review and comment August 16, 2016 - September 16, 2016.

Send comments to or to:
Joanna Ekrem
Air Quality Program
WA State Dept. of Ecology
P.O. Box 47600
Olympia, WA 98504-7600

Federal and state agencies set air quality standards for outdoor air. The purpose of these standards is to prevent air pollution from reaching levels that hurt human health. When an area does not meet an air quality standard, the state must develop a plan to clean up the air.

National Standards

EPA sets national standards for six air pollutants called "criteria air pollutants." These federal standards are called national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS). States monitor air quality in different areas to find out if the areas are meeting the national air quality standards. The criteria air pollutants are:

There are both national and state standards for most criteria air pollutants. States may set standards at different levels than the federal levels for their areas. State standards must be at least as protective as federal standards.


When EPA sets or revises a national standard, Washington uses air monitoring data to determine if air quality meets the new or revised standard. Based on this data, Washington recommends to EPA how areas of the state should be classified or designated. EPA sets each area's designation. Possible designations are:

  • Attainment (meeting and maintaining a standard)
  • Nonattainment (not meeting a standard)
  • Unclassifiable (not enough information to classify)

In 2015, EPA adopted a more protective ozone standard from 0.075 parts per million (ppm) to 0.070 ppm. Washington must submit to EPA its recommendation whether EPA should declare any counties or areas that do not meet (are not in attainment or "non-attainment") the new standard. Based on air monitoring data, most of Washington meets the standard. However, Ecology recommends that Benton, Franklin, and Walla Walla Counties are unclassified because we have only monitored ozone in the Tri-Cities for one year, instead of three years as required.

Public Comment:    Ecology's proposed recommendation to EPA is available for review and comment August 16, 2016 - September 16, 2016.

Send your comments to or to:

Joanna Ekrem
Air Quality Program
Washington State Department of Ecology
P.O. Box 47600
Olympia, WA  98504-7600

State Implementation Plans (SIPs)

The federal Clean Air Act requires states to develop plans to protect and maintain air quality in the state. It also requires states to develop specific plans to bring areas not meeting standards (nonattainment) back into attainment. These plans are called State Implementation Plans (SIPs).

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