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News Releases from Region 05

EPA and Ohio Announce that Lake County, Ohio, Now Meets Federal Air Quality Standard for Sulfur Dioxide

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Joshua Singer (

CHICAGO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its approval of the state of Ohio’s request to formally recognize that Lake County, Ohio, has attained the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for sulfur dioxide. Recent air monitoring data show the area now meets the national standard set to protect public health. 

“People in Lake County are breathing cleaner air as a result of this cooperation between the state and federal government,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Cathy Stepp.  

“U.S. EPA’s recognition that the air quality in Lake County meets the current national health-based standard for sulfur dioxide reflects continuing progress in efforts to improve air quality and the quality of life for Ohio residents,” said Ohio EPA Director Laurie A. Stevenson.

Lake County was designated as a sulfur dioxide nonattainment area in 2013 based on air-quality monitoring data. Ohio EPA then prepared a plan to reduce emissions from two power plants that were the largest sources of sulfur dioxide emissions in the county. Recent monitoring data show that the area is currently attaining the one-hour NAAQS for sulfur dioxide. EPA is approving Ohio’s request to redesignate Lake County to attainment, as well as Ohio’s plan to ensure that the area will continue to meet the sulfur dioxide standard.  

The largest source of sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere is the burning of fossil fuels by power plants and other industrial facilities. Short-term exposures to sulfur dioxide can harm the respiratory system and make breathing difficult. Children, the elderly, and those who suffer from asthma are particularly sensitive to effects of sulfur dioxide. High concentrations of sulfur dioxide in the air generally also lead to the formation of other sulfur oxides. Sulfur oxides can react with other compounds in the atmosphere to form small particles that contribute to particulate matter pollution, which may penetrate deeply into sensitive parts of the lungs and cause additional health problems. Sulfur dioxide and other sulfur oxides can contribute to haze and acid rain, which can harm sensitive ecosystems.

For more information about NAAQS: