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Particulate Matter (PM)

Fact Sheet: Managing Fine Particulate Air Quality: Findings on Meeting Basic Program Requirements for State Implementation Plans

  • On October 3, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed a Federal Register notice making "completeness" findings for all states and territories (hereafter "states"). These findings pertain to the "infrastructure" requirements that all states must have in their regulatory plans to attain, maintain, and enforce the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for fine particulate matter (PM2.5).   These plans, known as "state implementation plans" or "SIPs" must include the basic program requirements for managing PM2.5 air quality.
  • This notice identifies states that have : 
    • failed to make a submission; 
    • made a submission that does not meet one or more of the required elements; and
    • made a complete submission
  • For those states that have yet to make a submission, or that have made a submission that is incomplete with respect to particular SIP elements, EPA is making a "finding of failure to submit." This finding initiates a 2-year deadline for EPA to issue a Federal Implementation Plan or FIP.  The FIP will provide the basic program requirements for each State that has not completed an approved plan of their own by October 22, 2010.   
  • For those states with SIPs that are incomplete only with respect to specific SIP elements, the FIP pertains only to those elements.  EPA must approve the State’s plan before the FIP clock is turned off.   This notice does not initiate sanctions. 
  • For those states that have made submissions addressing all of the elements fully or partially, EPA is making a finding that those SIPS are "complete" for the whole plan or the complete elements, as applicable. This finding initiates a 1-year deadline for EPA to approve or disapprove the documents within one year.
  • The Clean Air Act, (sections 110(a)(1) and (2)), requires States to submit SIPs that implement, maintain, and enforce a new or revised national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) within 3 years of promulgation of the standard.  These SIP revisions must address a number of basic requirements, known as SIP elements, including:
    • ambient air quality monitoring and data systems,
    • programs for enforcement of control measures,
    • adequate resources to implement the plan, and
    • stationary source monitoring systems.
  • In July 1997, EPA issued a new PM2.5 national air quality standard.  States were required to submit SIPs that satisfied the basic Clean Air Act infrastructure requirements for implementing this new standard by July 2000.
  • In March 2004, Earth-Justice filed a notice of intent to sue EPA because EPA had not formally identified the States who had failed to submit their required SIP revisions.  In a Consent Decree with Earth Justice, EPA agreed to formally determine, through a notice, which States had failed to meet these requirements that support implementation of the PM2.5 standard by October 5, 2007. 
  • As a consequence of a renegotiated Consent Decree EPA agreed to begin the process of gathering submittals from States for the PM2.5 NAAQS submittals starting April 4, 2008.  In this action, any State which failed to make a submittal for PM2.5, or that made a submittal which was subsequently determined to be incomplete by EPA with respect to specific elements of section 110(a)(2) by the April 4, 2008 timeframe, will receive a finding of failure to submit or a finding of failure to submit a part thereof by October 5, 2008.   
  • States can demonstrate compliance with the section 110(a)(1) & (2) requirements by submitting to EPA a SIP revision, or a certification letter from the Governor indicating the existing SIP meets these requirements.  Any State which failed to make a submittal, or that made a submittal which was subsequently determined to be incomplete by EPA with respect to specific elements of section 110(a)(2) by the October 5, 2008 timeframe, will receive findings of failure to submit. 

Status of State Plans

  • The following States/territories failed to submit SIPs to satisfy the basic program requirements for managing PM2.5  air quality: 
    • Alaska, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Hawaii, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Vermont, Washington
  • The following States/territories/district submitted SIPs or certification letters to satisfy some, but not all of the basic program requirements for managing PM2.5  air quality: 
    • Arizona, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Washington D.C., Wisconsin
  • The following States submitted complete SIPs:
    • Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming


  • On July 17, 1997, following a lengthy scientific review process, EPA revised the NAAQS for particle pollution or fine particulate matter.
  • Specifically, EPA promulgated particulate matter standards and established both an annual and a 24-hour standard for fine particles - those 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller. Fine particles are about 1/30th the diameter of a human hair. 
  • Two new PM2.5 standards have been added with one set at 15 mg/m3, based on the 3-year average of annual arithmetic mean PM2.5 concentrations from single or multiple community-oriented monitors, and the other set at 65 mg/m3, based on the 3-year average of the 98th percentile of 24-hour PM2.5 concentrations at each population-oriented monitor within an area.  The PM10 standard was revised so that it is now based on the 99th percentile of 24-hour PM10 concentrations at each monitor within an area.
  • Fine particle pollution, or PM2.5, is a mixture of microscopic solids and liquid droplets suspended in the air. Fine particles may be emitted directly or formed when other air pollutants – including sulfur dioxide (SO2) and NOx emitted by cars, power plants and other industrial sources react in the atmosphere.

For More Information

  • For further information concerning this action, contact Mr. David Sanders of EPA’s Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards at (919) 541-3356.

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