WASHINGTON (CN) - In Los Angeles, Calif., Tampa, Fla., and 14 points in between, the quantity of airborne lead exceeds 2008 National Ambient Air Quality Standards, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The 16 "nonattainment" designations issued mean that those states containing nonattainment zones - Alabama, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas - must develop State Implementation Plans by the end of 2012 to bring particulate lead levels within national standards by 2015.
The level of lead in the air has decreased by 94 percent since the major source of particulate lead contamination, leaded automobile fuel, was phased out in the 1990s, according to the EPA. Most particulate lead emissions are from industrial metal smelters, non-jet aviation fuel exhaust and lead battery manufacturing.
Lead persists in soil, water, plants and the flesh of animals that eat, or breathe the contaminant and is known to cause neurological damage in humans.
The EPA expects to designate more nonattainment areas across the United States in 2011 when a second round of evaluations of areas, including tribal lands is completed.
The 16 nonattainment areas are: Troy, Ala.; Los Angeles County South Coast Air Basin, California; Tampa, Fla.; Granite City, Ill.; Muncie, Ind.; Eagan, Minn.; Iron, Miss.; Jefferson County, Missouri; Bellafontaine, Cleveland and Delta, Ohio; Lower Beaver Valley, Pennsylvania; Lyons, Penn.; North Reading, Pennsylvania; Bristol, Tenn.; and Frisco, Texas.
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