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Knoxville Now Meets Smog Standards

ATLANTA -- Today, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the Knoxville area meets the 1997 federal ozone standard. The Knoxville area includes the following counties: Anderson, Blount, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, and Sevier Counties in their entireties, and the portion of Cocke County that falls within the boundary of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

"We commend local and state officials, as well as the residents of the Knoxville area, who have been working collaboratively with us to reach this milestone," said EPA Regional Administrator Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming. "This accomplishment signifies that the citizens of Knoxville are breathing cleaner air and leading healthier lives. I look forward to our continuing to work together on a regional and local basis to keep the air clean."

EPA's decision to redesignate the area to attainment is based on air quality monitoring data through the ozone season. The Knoxville area has made significant progress in improving air quality and has reached an important clean air milestone. Air in the Knoxville area is meeting the health based standard set in 1997, and the area has in place measures and a plan to ensure the area continues to meet this standard. This progress is a result of hard work and great cooperation among local, state and federal agencies, private partners and approximately a million Tennesseans who live and work in the Knoxville area.

Ground level ozone is a primary component of smog. Smog is formed when a mixture of air pollutants, primarily nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, are baked in the hot summer sun. These pollutants are released from cars and factories. Ozone can cause wheezing, shortness of breath and chest pain. Asthmatics, children and older adults are especially at risk. However, even healthy people may suffer adverse health effects when ozone concentrations are high.

For more information on the Knoxville area redesignation, visit

Published March 3, 2011

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