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119 Cities Fail Pollution Standards

August 16, 1990

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Government monitoring of air quality showed only slight improvement over last year, with 119 metropolitan areas still failing pollution standards, the Environmental Protection Agency said today.

The EPA released lists of cities that violated ozone or smog limits - a summertime problem - and those that failed carbon monoxide standards that are most difficult to meet in colder months.

″These lists demonstrate the magnitude of the air pollution problem still remaining in this country,″ said EPA Deputy Administrator F. Henry Habicht.

Despite some improvements, Habicht said, 133 million people still live in areas exceeding the smog standard and almost 78 million in areas that are over the carbon monoxide limit.

Ninety-six areas failed smog tests and 41 flunked in carbon monoxide monitoring.

″Most major cities in this country are still not meeting at least one of these standards,″ said Warren Freas, spokesman for the EPA’s air quality office.

Eighteen major cities had violations of both standards, down from 21 last year. The total failing at least one of the standards last year was 124. The new lists cover actual monitoring of air quality in major urban areas for 1987 through 1989.

The lists are used by the EPA to determine whether state clean air plans can be approved. The EPA said it would use the lists to determine any new requirements that cities must meet under the Clean Air Act being worked out by a House-Senate conference committee.

Cities that appear on the lists can be required to increase auto emissions inspections, require cleaner fuel and take other steps to cut down on pollution.

Some cities still on one or both of the lists showed some improvement over last year because of anti-pollution measures, particularly Denver, which has required gasoline stations to sell oxygenated fuel which burns cleaner, the EPA’s Freas said.

Denver went from 29 days of violations four years ago to three during the past winter, he said.

Smog, caused by the interaction of sunlight and chemicals emitted from automobiles and a variety of sources, can cause eye irritations and respiratory problems.

Carbon monoxide, primarily from motor vehicles, can affect the heart and brain by reducing the amount of oxygen that gets to human tissues.

The allowable content in the air is different for each pollutant: 0.12 parts per million for smog and 9 parts per million for carbon monoxide.

The 18 areas on both lists included the nation’s largest cities. More than a third are in California: Los Angeles, San Francisco-Oakland, Fresno, Modesto, Sacramento, San Diego and Stockton.

The others are New York, Boston, Hartford, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington, Greensboro-Winston Salem, N.C.; Memphis; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Cleveland and El Paso.

Eight areas were dropped from the smog list from last year: Columbia, S.C.; Jacksonville, Fla., Lafayette, Ind.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Huntsville, Ala.; Anderson, S.C.; Tulsa, Okla., and Portland, Ore. Three were added: Smyth County, Va.; the Johnson City-Kingsport-Bristol area in Tennessee and Virginia, and Evansville, Ind.

Seven areas are newly meeting carbon monoxide standards: Manchester, N.H.; Oklahoma City; St. Louis; Great Falls, Mont.; Greeley, Colo.; Salt Lake City, and Yakima, Wash.

New to the list of violators are: Syracuse, N.Y.; Philadelphia; Duluth, Minn.; and Stockton, Calif.