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Six Common Air Pollutants

Designations

A designation is the term EPA uses to describe the air quality in a given area for any of six common air pollutants known as criteria pollutants. After EPA establishes or revises a primary and/or secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS), the Clean Air Act requires EPA to designate areas as “attainment” (meeting), “nonattainment” (not meeting), or “unclassifiable” (insufficient data) after monitoring data is collected by state, local and tribal governments. Once nonattainment designations take effect, the state and local governments have three years to develop implementation plans outlining how areas will attain and maintain the standards by reducing air pollutant emissions.

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