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The air quality in 14 Illinois counties does not meet new pollution standards, a federal agency said Tuesday. Two counties are new to the list, sent in a letter to Gov. Rod Blagojevich from Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Lynn Buhl.

The air quality in 14 Illinois counties does not meet new pollution standards, a federal agency said Tuesday. Two counties are new to the list, sent in a letter to Gov. Rod Blagojevich from Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Lynn Buhl.

The EPA is seeking comments from Illinois before making its final designations. Being on the list makes it more difficult for counties to expand industry. A spokeswoman for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency did not immediately comment Tuesday.

The agency’s Region Five also has notified the governors of Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin about problem counties in those states. Minnesota got some good news: The entire state meets air quality standards for soot. Soot particles, one-thirtieth the diameter of a human hair, can cause health problems for people with asthma, and heart and lung disease.

The EPA strengthened the air quality standards for particle pollution in 2006. State and local governments have three years to develop plans to reduce emissions and attain the standards, said EPA environmental scientist John Summerhays. The EPA also plans a 30-day public comment period on its intended designations.

It intends to make final designation decisions by Dec. 18. In Illinois, the counties the EPA plans to name as not meeting the new standard for fine particles are Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, Will, Grundy, Kendall, Rock Island, Massac, Madison, Monroe, St. Clair and Randolph.

AP

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