In 1997, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revised the National Ambient Air Quality Standard governing ozone (O3), adding an 8-hr standard of 0.08 ppm and phasing out the 1-hr requirement of 0.12 ppm. The 8-hr standard is intended to provide greater protection for human health. This research examines spatial and temporal patterns of exceedances of the standards using monitoring data and modeled estimates. The Penn State/National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Model and Models-3 framework were used to estimate hourly O3 concentrations for 4-km resolution in the Maryland/Virginia/Delaware/Washington, DC, and northern Georgia domains.
Results reveal that the spatial and temporal nature of compliance is considerably different under the 8-hr standard. In the modeling simulations, the 8-hr standard was exceeded 2–5.2 times more often and in a 1.8–16.2 times larger area than the 1-hr standard. The 8-hr standard was exceeded in areas that generally comply with the 1-hr standard and are not well covered by the monitoring network.
These results imply that a larger population resides in areas with unhealthy O3 levels than noncompliance with the original 1-hr standard suggests. For the MD/VA/DE/DC domains, 80 and 98% of the total population live in areas with 8-hr National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) exceedances for the 1990 and 1995 episodes, respectively.