Air pollution can scatter and absorb light, limiting visibility
and obscuring color and clarity. When visibility is reduced
over large regions it is called Regional Haze. Haze makes the
outline of a skyline or a natural vista difficult to see. For
real-time pictures from New Jersey showing how haze obscures
the skyline check out the haze camera at www.hazecam.net.
In the eastern United States, the largest contributor to visibility
impairment is sulfates, accounting for over 70 to 80 % of the
visibility impairment on the worst days. Other pollutants that
affect visibility include oxides of nitrogen (NOx), light absorbing
carbon, organic carbon, soil, and course material. Most
of these are the same pollutants that comprise fine particulate
matter for which the urbanized areas of the State are in non-attainment
of the annual health standard.
The Federal Clean Air Act of 1990 authorizes the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect and improve
visibility in the 156 federally-designated Class I areas (national
parks and wilderness areas). New Jersey is home to one Class
I area: the Brigantine Wilderness Area of the Edwin B. Forsythe
National Wildlife Refuge, located in southern New Jersey. In
1999, the USEPA issued requirements for all states, including New
Jersey, to address haze caused by numerous sources over large
geographic areas and return visibility levels within all Class
I areas to their natural conditions by the year 2064. Since
enactment of this Regional Haze rule, New Jersey joined a consortium
of mid-Atlantic and northeastern States in the MANE-VU Regional
Planning Organization to address this issue locally and regionally. New
Jersey submitted its final State Implementation Plan revision to address
regional haze visibility impairment on July 28, 2009 to begin the process of
returning air quality within New Jersey’s Class I area
to natural conditions. For more details, click here.