The Air Quality Branch serves the state in transportation planning for areas designated as nonattainment for National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). This is accomplished through project assistance and funding through the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ). The goal of planning for air quality improvement is to meet national transportation conformity requirements.
The GDOT Air Quality Branch works with other state and local agencies to improve air quality in the state. We work with the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, Environmental Protection Division, Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, and Metropolitan Planning Organizations throughout the state to develop transportation plans in accordance with conformity requirements.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets national air quality standards and monitors each state’s air quality index. Once an area has been designated as in violation of the legal level of a specific pollutant monitored by EPA, certain restrictions apply to transportation construction or project types. Compliance with conformity requirements is linked to transportation funding from the federal level.
Cars, trucks, buses, and off-road vehicles emit different pollutants into the air. Of the six pollutants monitored by the EPA, two are of particular interest in Georgia – ozone and particulate matter. Ozone, which is created in the air by nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, is a primary component of smog. Particulate matter refers to microscopic pieces of debris in the air that irritate the respiratory system. Each pollutant has a level of violation associated with it. Georgia currently has 24 (2 partial) counties in nonattainment for ozone, and 27 (3 partial) in nonattainment for PM 2.5.
For more information on instituting a commute alternatives program in your workplace, contact the Georgia Commute Options.