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Air Quality Pollutants and Standards

​The Sac Metro Air District is responsible for developing plans and programs to attain state and federal air quality standards. More information on these plans and programs can be found by clicking here.

Future Standards - EPA Review of 2020 Standards for Particulate Matter and Ozone

The Clean Air Act (Sections 108 and 109) requires U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review the standards – and the science behind them – to determine whether changes are warranted. More information on the NAAQS review process can be found here.

Ozone Standard Review – On August 21, 2023, the EPA annouced a new review of the Ozone NAAQS to ensure the standards refelct the most current, releveant science, and protect people's health from the harmful pollutants. EPA will incorporate the ongoing reconsideration into the review, and will consider the advice and recommendations of the CASAC in that review. More information on the status of this review can be found here.

Particulate Matter Review – In December 2020, the EPA Administrator decided to retain the PM NAAQS. Then on 06/10/2021, the EPA Administrator announced his decision to reconsider the December 2020 decision. This includes the PM2.5 annual standard of 12 µg/m3 and the daily standard of 35 µg/m3. EPA is reexamining the PM standards that the previous administration left unchanged. On January 6, 2023, EPA announced to revise the primary annual standard to the level within the range of 9 µg/m3
 to 10 µg/m3. More information on the status of this review can be found here.

Current Federal and State Standards

The EPA has established National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for six common pollutants (referred to as criteria pollutants), which are known to be harmful to human health and the environment. These pollutants are: 

  1. Ozone (O3)
  2. Particulate Matter (specifically, particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5) and particulate matter less than 10 microns in diameter (PM10))
  3. Carbon Monoxide (CO)
  4. Lead (Pb)
  5. Sulfur Dioxide (SO2), and
  6. Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2).

For several of these pollutants, California has also set standards, which are more stringent than federal standards. In the table below,  links have been established to find out more information for each pollutant, planning boundary maps and designations. Locations of air monitoring stations can be found on the Air Monitoring page.

​Pollutant National Standard​ ​Federal Designation  and Classification 
(attainment date)
​California Standard ​State Designation1
​Ozone ​ ​ ​ 8-hr Std
(2015 NAAQS)
0.070 ppm
​8-hr Std4
0.07 ppm ​ ​ ​ ​
​Nonattainment ​ ​ ​ ​
8-hr Std
(2008 NAAQS)
0.075 ppm
8-hr Std
(1997 NAAQS)
0.08 ppm
1-hr Std (1979 NAAQS)
0.12 ppb
1-hr Std
0.09 ppm
Particulate Matter 2.5 microns (PM2.5)24-hr Std
(2012 NAAAQS)
35 µg/m3
Annual arithmetic
(2012 NAAQS)
​12 µg/m3
AttainmentAnnual Arithmetic
12 µg/m3
Particulate Matter 10 microns (PM10) ​24-hr std (1987 NAAQS) 150 µg/m3 ​Attainment - Maintenance
24-hour Std
50 µg/m3
Annual arithmetic mean
20 µg/m3
Carbon Monoxide ​1-hr Std 
(2011 NAAQS)
35 ppm6
1-hr Std
20 ppm​
8-hr Std
(2011 NAAQS)
9 ppm​6
​8-hr Std
9 ppm
Lead ​3-month rolling
(2008 NAAQS)
0.15  µg/m3
30-day average
1.5 µg/m3
​Sulfur Dioxide ​ ​1-hr Std
(2010 NAAQS)
75 ppb ​
​1-Hr Std
0.25 ppm
24-hr avg Std
0.04 ppm​
Nitrogen Dioxide ​1-hr Std (2010 NAAQS)  0.100 ppm Unclassifiable/
1-hr Std
0.18 ppm​
​Annual Arithmetic Mean
(2010 NAAQS)9
0.053 ppm
Annual arithmetic mean
0.030 ppm

1 Summary of Historical Designations for State air quality Standards can be found here. A list of pollutants for which California Ambient Air Quality Standards were established and more information on the health and environmental effects specific to each pollutant can be found here.

2 EPA issued Determination of Attainment on 05/10/2017 (82 FR 21711) but the Sacramento Federal PM2.5 Nonattainment Area has not yet been redesignated to Attainment.

3 EPA is currently processing Air Districts' reclassification request from Serious to Severe-15.

4 In 04/2005, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved a new 8-hour standard of 70 ppb and retained the 1-hour standard of 90 ppb.

5 EPA issued Determination of Attainment on 10/18/2012 (77 FR 64036) but the Sacramento Federal Ozone Nonattainment Area has not yet been redesignated to Attainment.

6 The original NAAQS was established in 1971.  EPA reviewed both the 1-hour and 8-hour standards and decided to retain these standards in 2011.

7 Attainment /Unclassifiable designation was made as part of EPA's Air Quality Designations for the 2010 Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) Primary NAAQS - Round 3 designation in 12/2017.

8 EPA designates areas as "unclassifiable/attainment" if they met the standard or are expected to meet the standard despite a lack of monitoring data.

9 The original NAAQS were established in 1971. EPA reviewed and decided to retain the annual arithmetic mean standard in 2010.

Other California Standards
​California has also set standards for four pollutants (Hydrogen Sulfide, Sulfates, Visibility-Reducing Particles and Vinyl Chloride) that do not have a federal standard.
​Parameter ​California Standard ​State Designation
​Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) ​1-hr Std
30 ppb
​Sulfates ​24-hour std
25 µg/m3
​Visibility-Reducing Particles ​Statewide - 0.23 per km10
Lake Tahoe Air Basin - 0.07 per km11
​Vinyl Chloride ​24-hour
10 ppb

10 The statewide standard, the extinction of 0.23 per km, is equivalent to the standard adopted by CARB in 1969, defined as particles "in sufficient amount to reduce the visibility to less than ten miles when the relative humidity is less than 70 percent.

11 The Lake Tahoe Air Basin standard, the extinction of 0.07 per kilometer, is equivalent to the standard adopted by CARB in 1976, defined as particles "in sufficient amount to reduce the prevailing visibility to less than 30 miles when relative humidity is less than 70 percent.

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