2015 Air & Radiation Management Administration Accomplishments

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Clean Air Progress

For the first time in 30 years, Maryland is very close to meeting all federal air quality standards. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that the Baltimore area is meeting the health based federal standard for ground level ozone air pollution. The Washington, DC and the Philadelphia nonattainment areas also have clean data and EPA is expected to make the formal “Clean Data Determination” in 2016. Maryland came into statewide attainment for fine particles in 2012 and fine particle levels continue to drop. EPA introduced a new ozone standard that became effective on October 1, 2015. This more stringent ozone standard will present challenges for Maryland, but we feel we have a plan to address these challenges.

Maryland has adopted effective air pollution controls to address the pollution we generate in the State. Vehicles and fuels are cleaner. Utilities have invested billions of dollars in pollution controls. Toxic emissions from fuels, consumer products and industrial processes have been reduced which has resulted in Maryland’s air quality improving significantly in recent years.

While beneficial weather patterns and cooler summer temperatures over the past several years have certainly played a part in reducing ground level ozone, emission reductions from Maryland’s air quality regulations have lessened the number of days on which Marylanders breathe unhealthy air. Sustained efforts from government, businesses, environmental advocates, scientists, health professionals and many others have brought cleaner air to Maryland and surrounding states. These improvements benefit public health, our quality of life and the economy.

However, there is still work to be done to meet our air quality goals and to attain and maintain a new, stricter ground level ozone standard. The new ozone standard will improve public health protection, particularly for children, the elderly, and people of all ages who have lung diseases such as asthma. Based on 2015 air monitoring data, Maryland is extremely close to meeting the new EPA ozone standard. Fifteen of the State’s eighteen ozone monitors are already below the new ozone standard of 70 parts per billion (ppb). Modeling demonstrates that the Department’s air quality regulations and initiatives will continue to reduce ozone levels and by 2017 the remaining three monitors will be below the new ozone standard as well.

Research shows that pollution from upwind states accounts for up to 70 percent of the ozone levels recorded in Maryland. This air pollution that floats from state to state affects almost every state east of the Mississippi River. On November 16, 2015, EPA proposed an update to the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR). This rule, which requires reductions by the summer of 2017, is a critical component of Maryland’s plan to further reduce ozone levels across the State.

Over the past few years, Maryland has played a critical role in bringing together approximately 25 states to see where progress could be made in addressing the issue of transported air pollution. This collaborative effort with Air Directors and Commissioners in many states is looking at additional regional control efforts for power plants, vehicles and other sources of air pollution.

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Levels of Harmful Pollutants are Declining​

Ground-level ozone and particle pollution are persistent problems in Maryland and other parts of the country. Over the years, Maryland has worked diligently to reduce the emissions that form these harmful pollutants. Ground-level ozone is not emitted directly into the atmosphere, Rather, it is formed by complex chemical processes that require combinations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), nitrogen oxides (NOx), light and heat. Ground-level ozone is primarily a summer-time problem in Maryland. Over the years, we have had success in reducing the severity and duration of ground-level ozone events. By working with local and regional emissions sources, we have made progress toward achieving the health-based standard.

Particle pollution is both directly emitted and formed in the atmosphere. By implementing effective controls on fuels and combustion processes, Maryland met the health-based standard in 2012. Continued, sustained reductions in particle pollution provide significant public health benefits.


Highlights
 

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New Ozone Standard

A new, more protective ozone standard was adopted in 2015 to provide better health protection

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SO2 Reductions

Maryland continues to reduce SO2 emissions from power generation

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PM Attainment

Maryland is now measuring particle pollution levels below the federal standard.

 
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Climate Change

Maryland is on track to meet the 2020 GHG emissions reduction goals

 

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RGGI

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is a multi-state effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power generators

 
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New NOx Regulation

In 2015 Maryland adopted more stringent NOx regulations to further clean our air.

 


Air and Radiation Management Administration Programs

Air Monitoring

The Ambient Air Monitoring Program measures ground-level concentrations of criteria pollutants and air toxics, along with surface and aloft meteorological parameters. The Program also performs quality control, quality assurance, and analysis of the pollutant concentrations that are measured at each of the air monitoring stations located throughout Maryland. It is responsible for Air Quality Index (AQI) reporting and issuing daily air quality forecasts as well as coordination of 3D air-shed photochemical grid and dispersion modeling.

Air Quality Planning

Maryland's Air Quality Planning Program (AQPP) writes state implementation plans and regulations to reduce emissions and achieve the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for six "criteria" air pollutants: ground-level ozone, particulate matter, lead, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. The AQPP also implements federal, regional, local, and state greenhouse gas emissions reduction programs.

Climate Change

Maryland is on pace to meet the greenhouse gas emissions reductions required under State law while benefiting from billions of dollars in economic growth, but continued progress will be needed to minimize the effects of climate change while continuing to create jobs, a new Maryland Department of the Environment report states.

Mobile Sources Control

Mobile Sources include a variety of vehicles, engines, and equipment that generate air pollution, and that move or can be moved from place to place. The Mobile Sources Control Program implements programming to reduce motor vehicle related pollution.

Permits and Compliance

The Air Quality Compliance Program works to ensure compliance at stationary sources of air pollution. The Compliance staff conducts inspections, responds to complaints, provides compliance assistance and pursues enforcement actions when necessary.

Radiological Health

The Radiological Health Program (RHP) is mandated by Title 8: "Radiation" of the Annotated Code of Maryland, Environment Article, to control the uses of radiation and to protect public health and safety and the environment from inadvertent and unnecessary radiation exposure. This is accomplished through registration and certification of radiation (x-ray) machines, licensing of radioactive materials, inspections, and enforcement actions, where required, to ensure regulatory compliance.