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NC's pollution control plans set in motion this month

The US Environmental Protection Agency designates a metropolitan area unhealthy when it doesn't meet federal air quality standards for pollutants such as ozone. Last March, the agency lowered the maximum level of allowable ozone. Ozone is the state's most prevalent pollutant, with vehicles as the main contributors. The NC Air Quality Division says just nine of the 30 counties it monitors meet the new standard. Air Quality Deputy Director Sheila Holman says the good news is the EPA is giving the state ample time to comply. She says, "The main message with the new standards in the designation process, is nothing happens immediately. The state and the transportation planners, so forth, were all given time to address whatever needs to be done to both achieve air quality goals as well as achieve transportation planning goals." Holman says if the state fails to develop an adequate air quality plan, federal highway funds could be lost.