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3.0 Background and Overview of Federal Requirements

3.1 Introduction

In July of 1997, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) promulgated national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for particulate matter equal to or less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) in size. These standards required that concentrations of this pollutant in the air not exceed 65 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) on a daily (24-hour) basis (based on the 3-year average of the 98th percentile of 24-hour concentrations) and 15 µg/m3 on an annual basis (based on the 3-year average of annual mean PM2.5 concentrations.)

States were required to evaluate their attainment status and recommend nonattainment areas to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). After review of these recommendations, EPA finalized the designations, which became effective in April of 2005. The Clean Air Act (CAA) requires that states submit a State Implementation Plan (SIP) to the EPA consistent with the requirements of section 110(a)(2) of the Act.

On April 25, 2007, EPA published the Clean Air Fine Particle Implementation Rule which prescribes the requirements that must be met by the PM2.5 SIP. This SIP must identify and evaluate sources of both PM2.5 direct emissions and precursors, including the condensable fraction of direct PM2.5 emissions. States must also address:

  • Sulfur dioxide as a PM2.5 precursor, including an evaluation of control measures for sources of SO2 emissions,
  • NOx as a PM2.5 attainment precursor, including an evaluation of control measures for sources of NOx emissions unless the State and EPA provide a technical demonstration demonstrating that NOx emissions in the state do not significantly contribute to PM2.5 impacts in the nonattainment area.

States are not required to address VOC as a PM2.5 precursor and evaluate VOC control measures unless a technical demonstration is provided showing that VOC emissions significantly contribute to PM2.5 impacts in the nonattainment area. Additionally, states are not required to address ammonia as a PM2.5 precursor unless a technical demonstration shows that ammonia significantly contributes to PM2.5 concentrations.

As required in section 172(a)(2)(A) of the Act, the attainment date for an area designated nonattainment is the date by which attainment can be achieved as expeditiously as practicable, but no more than five years from the date of designation. The Administrator may extend the attainment date to the extent the Administrator determines appropriate, for a period no greater than 10 years from the date of designation, considering the severity of nonattainment and the availability and feasibility of pollution control measures. In SIP submittals, states must submit an attainment demonstration justifying its proposed attainment date.

Under section 172(a)(2)(C)(ii) of the CAA, a state with an area that fails to attain the NAAQS by the attainment date can apply for an initial one year attainment date extension if the state has met all its SIP requirements and commitments. A second one-year extension may also be granted. In both cases, the two-year average of annual concentrations at each monitor, based on the first extension year and the previous year, must be 15.0 µg/m3 or less. For an area that violates the 24-hour PM2.5 NAAQS as of its attainment date, the two-year average of annual 98th percentile concentrations, based on the first extension year and the previous year, is required to be 65 µg/m3 or less. This second condition would likely not apply in New York since there are no nonattainment areas for the 1997 24-hour PM2.5 NAAQS. If EPA determines that an area designated nonattainment for the PM2.5 NAAQS has met the standard, the requirements to submit an attainment demonstration and the associated SIP elements can be suspended until the area is redesignated to attainment. Conversely, an area that is initially designated as attainment or unclassifiable for the PM2.5 NAAQS may be subsequently redesignated to nonattainment if ambient air quality data in future years indicate that such a redesignation is appropriate.

For areas designated as nonattainment for the PM2.5 NAAQS, an attainment demonstration must be completed showing that the area will attain the annual and 24-hour standards as expeditiously as practicable. The demonstration must include inventory data, modeling results, and emission reduction analyses on which the State has based its projected attainment date. For each nonattainment area, the SIP must provide the application of all control measures needed to reach attainment as expeditiously as practicable, but no later than the beginning of the year prior to the attainment date. All Reasonably Available Control Measures (RACM) and Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT) measures must be implemented as expeditiously as practicable. SIPs must also include Reasonable Further Progress (RFP) milestones along with the control measures needed to meet these milestones.

An emission inventory must additionally be submitted for direct PM2.5 emissions and emissions of PM2.5 precursors, along with along with any additional emission-related inventory information needed to support the attainment demonstration and RFP plan. The inventory must include a baseline emission inventory, which must be for the most recent calendar year for which a complete inventory was required to be submitted to EPA. In this case, the baseline emission inventory for 2002 is used for the attainment demonstration and RFP plans.

Section 172(c)(2)of the CAA requires the state to demonstrate reasonable further progress. If a State submits a SIP to EPA which demonstrates that it will attain the PM2.5 NAAQS within five years of the date of designation (April 5, 2010 based on the April 5, 2005 designation date), a separate RFP plan is not required. This is the case with the present submission since compliance is projected in 2009, so an RFP plan is not required. Compliance with the emission reduction measures in the SIP will meet the requirements for achieving reasonable further progress.

One of the intended results of the implementation of a SIP is a reduction in the emissions of pollutants contributing to nonattainment of the NAAQS. These reductions are achieved through measures referred to as Reasonably Available Control Measures (RACM). RACM, which are measures that are reasonably available considering technical and economic feasibility, must be adopted if, considered collectively, they would advance the attainment date by one year or more. Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT) is a subset of these measures that apply to stationary sources. For this SIP, the state is required to demonstrate that it has adopted all RACM including RACT that, cumulatively, are necessary to reach attainment as expeditiously as practicable, and to meet any RFP requirements. A list of all measures considered by the state, and analyses sufficient to demonstrate that the state has adopted all RACM must be included.

From the time of implementation of RACM measures, the state must submit a mid-course review to EPA six years from the date of designation. The mid-course review must include:

  • A review of emissions reductions and progress made in implementing control measures to reduce emissions of direct PM2.5 and PM2.5 precursors contributing to PM2.5 concentrations in the area,
  • An analysis of changes in ambient air quality data for the area,
  • A revised air quality modeling analysis to demonstrate attainment, and
  • Any new or revised control measures adopted by the State, as necessary to ensure attainment by the attainment date in the approved SIP of the nonattainment area.

Finally, consistent with section 172(c)(9) of the Act, states are required to submit, in each SIP, specific contingency measures that will be implemented if the area fails to make reasonable further progress, or fails to attain the PM2.5 NAAQS by its attainment date. Emissions reductions accounted for through contingency measures should be equal to approximately 1 year's worth of emissions reductions need to achieve reasonable further progress for the area. Contingency measures must take effect without significant further action by the state or EPA. Since many states cannot implement contingency requirements without significant further action, the requirement for contingency measures can also be satisfied if the SIP provides for an additional emission reduction equal to that which would be obtained through contingency requirements. New York is one of these states and so will satisfy this requirement by the implementation of additional reductions that would be at least equal to the contingency measures.

This document contains the required elements of a SIP as prescribed under section 172(c) of the Act, including inventory data, modeling results, emission reduction and control measures needed to reach attainment as expeditiously as possible (RACM and RACT), and Reasonable Further Progress (RFP) considerations that will allow New York to achieve the annual NAAQS for PM2.5 by 2009.

New York will adopt this SIP in accordance with State laws and rules, and has the necessary authority to adopt the SIP and other required rules and regulations. These revisions are authorized by Sections 1-0101, 3-301, 19-0103, 19-0105, 19-0301, 19-0302, 19-0303, 19-0305, 19-0311, 71-2103, and 71-2105 of the New York State Environmental Conservation Law (ECL). Article 19 of the ECL was adopted to protect New York's air resources from pollution and to effectuate the policy of the State to maintain a reasonable degree of purity of the air resources, consistent with the public health and welfare and the industrial development of the State. To this end, the Legislature gave the Department specific powers and duties, including the power to promulgate regulations for preventing, controlling, or prohibiting air pollution. The Department also has the specific authority to regulate motor vehicle exhaust and approve air contaminant emission control systems as well as regulate fuels.

Section 1-0101. This Section declares it to be the policy of New York State to conserve, improve and protect its natural resources and environment and control air pollution in order to enhance the health, safety and welfare of the people of New York State and their overall economic and social well being. Section 1-0101 further expresses, among other things, that it is the policy of New York State to coordinate the State's environmental plans, functions, powers and programs with those of the federal government and other regions and manage air resources to the end that the State may fulfill its responsibility as trustee of the environment for present and future generations. This Section also provides that it is the policy of New York State to foster, promote, create and maintain conditions by which man and nature can thrive in harmony by providing that care is taken for air resources that are shared with other states.

Section 3-0301. This Section empowers the Department to promulgate regulations to carry out the environmental policy of New York State set forth in Section 1-0101 and specifically empowers the Department to cooperate with officials and representatives of the federal government, other states and interstate agencies regarding problems affecting the environment of New York State. Section 3-0301 specifically empowers the Department to provide for the prevention and abatement of air pollution.

Section 19-0103. This Section declares that it is the policy of New York State to maintain the purity of air resources and to require the use of all available practical and reasonable methods to prevent and control air pollution in the State.

Section 19-0105. This Section declares that it is the purpose of Article 19 of the ECL to safeguard the air resources of New York State under a program which is consistent with the policy expressed in Section 19-0103 and in accordance with other provisions of Article 19.

Section 19-0301. This Section authorizes the Department to adopt regulations to prevent and control air pollution in such areas of the State that are affected by air pollution, develop a general comprehensive plan for the control and abatement of existing air pollution and for the control and prevention of new air pollution and cooperate with government agencies and other States or interstate agencies with respect to the control of air pollution.

Section 19-0302. This section provides that permitting rules will govern permit and certificate applications, renewals, modifications, suspensions and revocations, and that no permit may contain requirements more stringent than those established under the Clean Air Act and promulgated by EPA unless authorized by Department rules and regulations.

Section 19-0303. This Section authorizes the Department to adopt rules and regulations. Any regulation adopted by the Department may differ in its terms and provisions as between particular types and conditions of air pollution or of air contamination, between particular air contamination sources and between particular areas of the state. In adopting a regulation, the Department must recognize that the quantity or characteristics of air contaminants or the duration of their presence in the atmosphere may cause varing amouts of air pollution in the state.

Section 19-0305. This Section authorizes the Department to enforce the codes, rules and regulations established in accordance with Article 19.

Section 19-0311. This Section directs the Department to establish an operating permit program for sources subject to Title V of the CAA. Section 19-0311 specifically requires that complete permit applications must include, among other things, identification of all applicable requirements in state and federal law, source information, description of emissions and emission points, compliance plans, schedules of compliance, and a compliance certification. This Section further expresses that any permits issued must include, among other things, terms setting emissions limitations or standards, terms for detailed monitoring, record keeping and reporting, and terms allowing Department inspection, entry, and monitoring to assure compliance with the terms and conditions of the permit.

Section 71-2103. This Section provides general enforcement authority for the air regulations.

Section 71-2105. This Section provides criminal enforcement authority.

3.2 Particulate Formation

3.2.1 General

Particulate finds its way into the atmosphere through a number of pathways and sources. The two mechanisms by which particulate pollution forms are via primary emissions and secondary formation.

3.2.2 Sources of Particulate Matter

3.2.2.1 Direct (Primary) PM2.5

PM2.5 can be emitted as a primary pollutant directly from stationary and mobile sources. Sources of primary PM2.5 include:

  • Stationary sources that burn fossil fuels, such as power plants and industrial, commercial and residential heating equipment,
  • Mobile sources that burn fossil fuels such as cars, trucks, and buses,
  • Many industrial processes such as smelting and manufacturing,
  • Dust from unpaved roads,
  • Road and ocean salt,
  • Asphalt production,
  • Residential wood burning,
  • Construction activities, including fugitive dust and exhaust from off-road equipment,
  • Agricultural operations, and
  • Non-anthropogenic sources such as wild fires.

Direct PM2.5 emissions are comprised of such things as black carbon, manufacturing byproducts, metals, salt and crustal material such as soil and rock dust.

3.2.2.2 Indirect (Secondary) PM2.5

Fine particulate matter may also form in the ambient air through a process called secondary formation. PM2.5 precursors emitted into the air chemically react after they exit the stack or tailpipe to form secondary particulate matter. Secondary particles form through reactions in the atmosphere involving atmospheric oxygen, water vapor, ozone, hydroxyl and nitrate radicals, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ammonia, and organic gases. Any given particle may contain PM from several sources. Potential sources of secondary PM2.5 precursors that react in the air include:

  • Stationary and mobile fossil fuel combustion processes;
  • Gasoline fueling and refining;
  • Surface coating operations;
  • Many industrial processes;
  • Cement and lime kilns;
  • Agricultural operations; and
  • Mining.

Secondary particulate formation is a long term process which can take hours and/or days and is, therefore, an important component of the long range transport contribution to ambient PM2.5 levels in a particular area.

3.3 Health and Welfare Effects

3.3.1 General

The reduction of PM2.5 in the atmosphere is important for a number of reasons. Among these are their effects on human health, which have related effects on the economy and the ability of the health care system to function adequately, as well as welfare effects which include the impact on the environment, crops, building degradation through acid deposition, and visibility.

3.3.1.1 Health Effects

Particulate pollution, especially the portion that is 2.5 microns or smaller in size, is composed of microscopic solids or liquid droplets that are so small that they are carried by inhaled air deep into the lungs to cause serious health problems. Larger particles are removed by the body's natural defenses before they are able to penetrate the body. Many scientific analyses over the years have linked fine particulate pollution to a wide variety of health problems, including:

  • Respiratory irritation, coughing, or difficulty breathing;
  • Decreased lung function;
  • Asthma, especially in children and other sensitive groups;
  • Chronic bronchitis;
  • Heart disease; and
  • Premature death.

Sensitive portions of the population, such as individuals with heart or lung diseases, children, and older adults are the most likely to be affected. Even healthy individuals not in sensitive groups, however, may experience problems due to exposure to fine particulate pollution.

3.4 Environmental Effects

Particulate matter in the ambient air causes a wide range of deleterious effects. These effects are caused not only by their nature as solid and liquid particulates, but also because of their chemical composition. Each aspect results in damage to the environment.

3.4.1 Environmental Damage

After its emission into the air and/or its formation, particulate matter can be carried over long distances by wind and weather systems. These particulates eventually can settle or be "washed" out of the atmosphere by precipitation, resulting in their deposition on the ground, in water, or on man-made structures. The effects of this deposition settling include the acidification of lakes and streams, a shift in the nutrient balance in coastal waters and large river basins, the depletion of nutrients in soil, damage to forests and crops, killing of fish and other aquatic life, and affecting the diversity of ecosystems. The effect of acid rain has been long since documented, and is an excellent example of the result of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions that transform into sulfates and nitrates and, from there, to sulfuric and nitric acid. Widespread damage to eastern forests and the elimination of life from many water bodies underscores the necessity to reduce these emissions.

3.4.2 Aesthetic Damage

The effect of particulate pollution can be easily seen on many made-made structures and objects. Damage to stone and other materials including historic buildings, statues and monuments have taken its toll. The acid precipitation reacts with materials like marble and limestone and forms gypsum, which is water soluble. The sharp features of buildings and statues become softened, and rounded, and are eventually unrecognizable as the material washes away. This effect is seen not only in the United States, but also in other areas around the globe where buildings and other structures of great antiquity have been damaged.

3.4.3 Visibility Reduction

Fine particles (PM2.5) are the major cause of reduced visibility (haze) in parts of the United States. Although sulfates are the primary constituents of haze, many other sources contribute including processes that emit VOCs. Power plants and other combustion operations, woodburning, industrial facilities, and many other sources release particulates and their precursors into the air. Even though many of the parks and wilderness areas are a far distance removed from these sources, transport plays a major role in bringing haze-inducing particulates into these areas. The result is a reduction in the clarity of views and vistas, and in the enjoyment of many of the recreational areas. Secondary effects, such as a decrease in tourism upon which many communities thrive, may occur as well.

3.5 Annual and 24-Hour NAAQSs

The ambient air quality standards for particulate matter have evolved over the years. In 6 NYCRR Part 257, New York had (and still has) standards in place for settleable particulates, or dustfall. EPA issued the first ambient air standard for total suspended particulates. These standards were replaced in 1987 with NAAQS for PM10 or particulate matter equal to or less than 10 microns in size.

As science progressed, the PM2.5 fraction of particulates in the air was determined to be more important. As a result, annual and 24-hour standards for PM2.5 were promulgated in 1997. Compliance with the 24-hour standard is based on the average of the 98th percentile of 24-hour concentrations averaged over three years being less than 65 µg/m3. For the annual standard, the three year average of the annual average PM2.5 concentration must be less than 15 µg/m3.

Shortly after promulgation, the 1997 standards were challenged by several parties, including the American Trucking Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other state and business groups. The Supreme Court upheld EPA's authority to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards that protect the American public from harmful effects of air pollution in February of 2001. The Supreme Court also sent the case back to the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals to address several additional issues. In March 2002, the District of Columbia Circuit Court rejected all remaining challenges to the 1997 standards.

3.6 Nonattainment Designation

Section 107(d)(1)(B) of the Clean Air Act (CAA) requires that any area that does not meet, or that contributes to areas not meeting, the primary ambient air quality standard for sulfur dioxide or particulate matter be designated nonattainment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) April 1, 2003 guidance document entitled, "Designations for the Fine Particle National Ambient Air Quality Standards," identifies considerations to be applied when evaluating the attainment status of a given area. This guidance prescribes nine specific factors to be assessed when states determine which areas to recommend as nonattainment. These factors were applied when determining what areas to designate as nonattainment with the annual PM2.5 standard.

3.7 SIP Due Date

In 2004, the areas that were not in attainment with the annual PM2.5 standard of 15µg/m3 were identified. In New York, this covered ten counties, including Bronx, Kings, New York, Orange, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties. There were no areas that did not comply with the 24-hour PM2.5 standard, so nonattainment with the annual standard is the only issue to be addressed in this SIP.

The State of New York recommended that only the five counties encompassing New York City be designated nonattainment. EPA, using a nine factor analysis recommended in guidance, expanded the area to include the additional suburban New York metropolitan area counties. The State of New York filed a petition for review with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit stating that EPA's recommendation to expand the New York PM2.5 nonattainment boundaries to include the suburban counties (Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Orange and Rockland) is inappropriate and does not provide the basis to adequately address PM2.5 in New York. On July 7, 2009, the court decided that EPA acted appropriately in designating the suburban counties with the exception of Rockland County which was remanded to EPA for additional explanation.

The designation of New York's annual PM2.5 nonattainment area by EPA in April of 2005 started the three year clock that resulted in the April 5, 2008 submission deadline for this SIP for the PM2.5 annual standard.

3.8 Attainment Date

States must come into compliance with NAAQS within five years of the designation of nonattainment areas. With the 2005 approval of the nonattainment areas, the attainment date is April 5, 2010. As a result, attainment will be based on the latest full period of monitoring data available by 2007-2009. Therefore, the modeling demonstration and RFP will be based on the final year of that ambient monitoring period, 2009.

3.9 2006 24-Hour PM2.5 Standard Revision

It should be noted that although this SIP does not need to address the 24-hour PM2.5 standard that was promulgated in 1997 since there are no nonattainment areas for this standard, a revision to the 24-hour standard took place in 2006. This revision reduced the 24-hour standard from 65µg/m3 to 35µg/m3. A preliminary analysis of monitoring data suggests that there will be nonattainment areas for the revised standards. New York's recommendations for nonattainment areas for the revised standard were submitted to EPA in December 2007. The State recommended that the NYC metropolitan area be designated as nonattainment with the 2006 24-hour PM2.5 NAAQS and the boundary of the nonattainment area be the same ten county area EPA designated as nonattainment with the 1997 annual PM 2.5 NAAQS. On October 8, 2009, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson signed the federal rule designating the ten county New York metropolitan area as nonattainment for the 2006 24-hour PM2.5 NAAQS. This begins a three-year time period within which New York will be required to submit a SIP demonstrating how it will come into attainment.


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