The Florida Department of Environmental Protection announced that Florida meets all of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) statewide. This is the culmination of several years of collaborative efforts between DEP, EPA and industry to reduce emissions and improve air quality for Florida’s citizens. These efforts have not only resulted in Florida having the cleanest air on record, but to its being the most populous state in the United States to meet these stringent federal standards.
Under the Clean Air Act, EPA is required to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for six pollutants based on health criteria: carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particulate matter and sulfur dioxide. EPA is also required to review those standards and strengthen them, if necessary, to protect and prioritize public health. When new, more stringent NAAQS are promulgated, some areas meeting the previous NAAQS may not be attaining the new standard. In such cases, states are required to design and implement a solution that will bring any nonattainment areas back into attainment. Florida has completed this process for four nonattainment areas over the last 18 months and is now fully within the NAAQS attainment standards statewide.
“Achieving our environmental protection goals takes collaboration,” Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein told Sebastian Daily.
“The work that DEP, along with EPA, has done with industry members in Hillsborough, Nassau and Polk counties has resulted in improved air quality, better protecting public health and the quality of life of our residents and visitors. I am proud of our efforts that have led Florida to this important milestone.”
“This milestone achievement represents years of hard work and dedication on behalf of DEP as well as local businesses committed to improving the health and prosperity of Florida residents,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “We’re proud to assist areas like Hillsborough, Nassau and Polk Counties achieve not only their air quality goals, but also attract and retain much-needed jobs.”
Florida has one of the most robust air quality monitoring networks in the country. The network includes more than 211 monitors at 99 sites and provides scientists with the data needed to ensure Florida’s air quality is in compliance with federal standards. The department’s Spatial Air Quality System allows everyone to access updated air quality data as reported by the statewide network.
“With the recent focus on improving water quality around the state, people often forget that we are responsible also to safeguard the air. We are clearly doing a good job in that regard. Attainment of ambient air quality standards across the state drives that message home and highlights the importance of maintaining strong public and private partnerships to protect Florida’s environment,” said Florida Chief Science Officer Dr. Tom Frazer.
“This clean air achievement is a direct result of Secretary Valenstein’s collaborative leadership and the substantial investments Florida industries, communities and elected leaders have made in our natural resources. Clean air is good for Florida’s continued economic growth, quality of life and competitiveness,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President, Florida Chamber of Commerce.
“This designation by EPA is significant. Despite our region’s considerable growth, we have been able achieve good air quality for our residents, which makes Tampa Bay a great place to live and work,” said Janet Dougherty, Executive Director, Hillsborough Environmental Protection Commission. “I am proud of the work by DEP, EPA and the regulated community that have resulted in Hillsborough County meeting all the federal health-based air pollution standards.”
Florida is known for its natural resources, such as our world-famous beaches and springs, and the abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities these resources provide. Nowhere is this more evident than in the state’s 41 aquatic preserves, and 175 award-winning state parks and trails. Continued commitment to maintaining Florida’s exceptional air quality will help ensure these resources and activities remain enjoyable for everyone for generations to come.