Media Room

Date: 7/13/2015

EPA Approves Redesignation of Knoxville Area to Attainment for the 2008 8-Hour Ozone Standard

Contact Information: Jason McDonald, 404-562-9203,

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it is taking final action to approve the state of Tennessee’s request to redesignate the Knoxville area to attainment for the 2008 8-hour ozone standard. This action is based on air quality monitoring data for the three-year period of 2011, 2012, and 2013 that meets the standard. The area continues to attain this standard. On July 13, 2015, EPA took final action on the Knoxville Area.

“We commend the Knoxville area for the effort it has undertaken towards improving air quality and reaching this accomplishment,” said EPA Regional Administrator Heather McTeer Toney. “This progress represents a commitment to hard work by the local, state and federal agencies, private partners and the many citizens of Tennessee who live and work in the Knoxville area.”

For over 20 years, the Knoxville Metropolitan Statistical Area (KMSA) has worked collaboratively with EPA and other stakeholders to develop strategies for achieving attainment standards for ozone. The areas of Knox, Blount and a portion of Anderson counties have reached a significant milestone by attaining the 2008 8-Hour Ozone Standard in the midst of significant population growth.

“This is something that I and my staff, along with Sen. Lamar Alexander and other state and local officials have worked on for several years, and I’m happy to see our area reach attainment of EPA air quality standards,” said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. “Being in attainment will not only have a positive impact on the environment and public health, it also will encourage economic development by sending a signal to businesses that Knox County and East Tennessee are open for business.”

Ground level or "bad" ozone is not emitted directly into the air, but is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the presence of sunlight. Emissions from industrial facilities and electric utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents are some of the major sources of NOx and VOC. Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation, and congestion. It can worsen bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma. Ground level ozone also can reduce lung function and inflame the linings of the lungs. Repeated exposure may permanently scar lung tissue.
For more information on the Knoxville area final 2008 8-hour ozone redesignation, visit docket number EPA-R04-OAR-2014-0870 at