EPA is proposing to set maximum limits on the amount of benzene, a known human carcinogen, in conventional gasoline and cleaner-burning reformulated gasoline.
The proposed standards would require refiners to maintain their average 1998 to 1999 benzene levels.
As a result of EPA''s clean air programs that have produced cleaner cars and cleaner burning gasoline, benzene levels nationwide in urban areas decreased 39 percent between 1993 and 1998.
Some cities that use cleaner burning gasoline have seen even greater reductions.
For example, benzene levels in Milwaukee, Houston and Los Angeles decreased between 44 and 52 percent.
"This proposal will ensure that the positive steps we have already taken to reduce benzene levels continue and at negligible cost," said an EPA statement.
Because motor vehicles emit a variety of pollutants such as benzene that can cause cancer and other adverse health effects, EPA plans to continue to evaluate emissions of these pollutants to ensure adequate protection of public health and the environment.
There will be a public hearing on the proposal in Detroit, Mich., on Aug. 21 followed by a 30 day public comment period.
For more information on this proposal and other transportation and air quality issues, go to www.epa.gov/otaq/toxics.htm.
by Virginia Sutcliffe