New air quality standards for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are expected to help limit exposure to smog produced by industrial plants and automobiles.
The new one-hour standard for NO2 is set at 100 parts per billion, reports Reuters.
The goal is to prevent short-term exposures in urban communities and areas near roadways, said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.
The American Petroleum Institute accused the EPA of over-regulating air quality standards for political reasons, stating that “there is no significant evidence” that the new short-term standard is necessary to protect human health.
The limits apply to communities of more than 500,000. The EPA will put smog monitors near roadways in such locations.
Earlier this month, the EPA began considering a standard that would limit pollution concentrations in the range of 0.60 to 0.70 parts per million, as measured over an eight-hour period. That compares to 0.75 parts per million standard as applied by the Bush Administration.
The Obama Administration directed the EPA to reconsider the smog rules in September.
Regional efforts to reduce NO2 emissions appear to be working.
In 2009, summertime nitrogen oxide emissions from power plants and large industrial sources were down by 62 percent compared to year 2000 levels and 75 percent lower than in 1990 thanks to a cap-and-trade program in 20 eastern states and the District of Columbia, according to a report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).