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Exceptional Event Demonstration for 2020 Ozone Levels

On August 20, 2021, the Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) has posted a notice providing the opportunity to comment on a demonstration that ozone data from March 16, 2020 to December 31, 2020 qualified as an exceptional event.  DOEE intends to submit this demonstration to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as an exceptional event for ambient ozone air quality data in the District during 2020 while the Covid-19 health emergency was in effect from March 16 to December 31.  Once the District has completed its procedures, the proposed exceptional event demonstration will be submitted to EPA for approval.

The EPA designated the District as a Marginal Nonattainment Area for the 2015 8-hour Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) after promulgation of the revised standards established at 0.070 parts per million (ppm) effective on August 3, 2018 (83 Fed. Reg. 25776, June 4, 2018).  This value is based on the three-year average of the fourth highest daily maximum ozone averaged in 8-hour increments. It is required to determine compliance based on dates set forth in the Clean Air Act by August 3, 2021.  In order to do so, DOEE must rely on ozone data from 2018 to 2020. 

Ozone has been found to increase the frequency of asthma attacks, make the lungs more susceptible to infection, and aggravate lung diseases such as asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis among others.  Wards 8 and 7 have the highest asthma rates in the District, respectively. A regional analysis using BenMap found that between 2015 and 2019 excess mortality would have been reduced by 10 persons, there would have been 20 fewer hospital admissions, and there would have been 26,000 fewer asthma exacerbations, on average, which results in an $82 million dollar dis-benefit to the District of Columbia in terms of health outcomes on average.

Recent Preliminary 2021 ozone season data has shown a fourth highest day of 0.071 ppm implying that ozone levels are returning to pre-pandemic levels, though the very clean air experienced in 2020 depresses the three-year average design value, further warranting this request for data exclusion.

Year

4th High Daily Max 8-Hour Ozone (ppm)

Design Value (ppm)

2013

0.066

0.079

2014

0.068

0.073

2015

0.072

0.068

2016

0.072

0.070

2017

0.071

0.071

2018

0.073

0.072

2019

0.071

0.071

2020

0.063

0.069

2021 (preliminary)

0.071

0.068

DOEE is seeking public comments on this exceptional event demonstration.  Two documents are provided. 

Interested parties wishing to testify at this hearing should submit, in writing, their name, address, telephone number and affiliation to Air Quality Division (AQD), Department of Energy and Environment at the address: 1200 First Street, NE, Fifth Floor, Washington, DC 20002, or email Mr. Joseph Jakuta at [email protected] by 4:00 p.m. on September 20, 2021.  Interested parties may also submit written comments to AQD’s Air Quality Planning Branch at the same address or by email to Mr. Joseph Jakuta at [email protected]. Questions can be directed to Mr. Joseph Jakuta at [email protected] or by phone at 202-669-5817.  No comments will be accepted after September 20, 2021.

The public hearing will be held on Monday, September 20, 2021, at 5:30 p.m.  The public hearing will be held using teleconferencing, which allows for both a video and voice over internet protocol (VOIP) connection

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