Meeting Air Quality Standards

Effective July 1, 2020, Santa Barbara County is designated as attainment for the State ozone standards. This change was initiated by the California Air Resources Board at their December 2019 public hearing and it was later approved by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL).  View the District’s submitted comment letter.

To view exceedances of standards, see Days Exceeding Ozone and Particulate Standards.

Air quality standards define clean air. They tell us how much of a substance can be in the air without causing harm, based on proven scientific and medical research. Both the federal and state governments set air quality standards. In most cases, California’s standards are more protective of health. The Attainment Designation tells us whether our air meets these health standards.

Federal standards have been established for seven pollutants:

  1. ozone,
  2. nitrogen dioxide,
  3. sulfur dioxide,
  4. carbon monoxide,
  5. respirable particulate matter less than 10 microns in diameter (PM10),
  6. fine particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5), and
  7. lead.

California state standards exist for all of these, plus four more:

  1. sulfates,
  2. hydrogen sulfide,
  3. vinyl chloride (chloroethene), and
  4. visibility reducing particles.

These are the only pollutants – out of hundreds in our air – for which standards have been set. There is not enough known about the health effects of other pollutants to set air quality standards. View the State and Federal Ambient Air Quality Standards.

Santa Barbara County was designated unclassifiable/attainment for the 2015 revised federal 8-hour ozone standard on April 30, 2018 and attainment for the state ozone standard. The County is also unclassifiable/attainment for the federal PM2.5 standard and unclassified for the state PM2.5 standard. However, the County is currently in nonattainment for the state PM10 standard. 

To view historical statistics on ozone and particle pollution levels in Santa Barbara County and other areas of the state, visit the California Air Resources Board air quality data base.

Santa Barbara County Attainment/Nonattainment Classification Summary

Pollutant Averaging Time California Standards National Standards
Concentration Attainment Status Concentration Attainment Status
8 hour 0.070 ppm A 0.070 ppm U/A
1 hour 0.09 ppm
(180 µg/m3)
Carbon Monoxide
8 hour 9.0 ppm
(10 mg/m3)
A 9.0 ppm
(10 m/m3)
1 hour 20.0 ppm
(23 mg/m3)
A 35.0 ppm
(40 µg/m3)
Nitrogen Dioxide
annual average 0.030 ppm
(56 µg/m3)
A 53 ppb U/A
1 hour 0.18 ppm
(338 µg/m3)
A 100 ppb U/A
Sulfur Dioxide
annual average Revoked
24 hour 0.04 ppm
(105 µg/m3)
A Revoked
1 hour 0.25 ppm
(655 µg/m3)
A 75 ppb *

Particulate Matter (PM10)

annual arithmetic mean 20 µg/m3 N Revoked A
24 hour 50 µg/m3 N 150 µg/m3 A

Particulate Matter – Fine (PM2.5)

annual arithmetic mean 12µg/m3 U 12.0 µg/m3 U/A
24 hour 35 µg/m3 U/A
24 hour 25 µg/m3 A
calendar quarter 1.5 µg/m3 A
30 day average 1.5 µg/m3 A
Rolling 3-month Average 0.15 µg/m3 U
Hydrogen Sulfide
1 hour 0.03 ppm
(42 µg/m3)
Vinyl Chloride (chloroethene)
24 hour 0.010 ppm
(26 µg/m3)
Visibility Reducing Particles
8 hour
(1000 to 1800 PST)

A = Attainment;  N = Nonattainment;  U = Unclassified;  U/A = Unclassifiable/Attainment;   — = No Standard

   mg/m3 = milligrams per cubic meter;  µg/m3 = micrograms per cubic meter;  ppm = parts per million;  ppb = parts per billion; 


*  EPA has not yet made final designations on attainment status.  For more information, see EPA’s website.