In the 1940s, the City of Asheville established a “Smoke Abatement Program” to address the blanket of black smoke that engulfed the city during particularly stagnant weather conditions. The local air quality agency is an extension of that program. Originally, the agency served four counties, and from 1970 to 2000, the Agency served two counties (Buncombe and Haywood). In 2000, the Western North Carolina Regional Air Quality Agency (WNCRAQA) was re-formed through an interlocal agreement between Buncombe County and the City of Asheville. The purpose of this agreement was to establish, administer, and enforce a local air quality program for the City of Asheville and Buncombe County in accordance with the provisions of North Carolina General Statutes Section 143-215.112.
The mission of the Agency is to monitor and regulate the air quality of the City of Asheville and Buncombe County to safeguard public health and the environment, while preserving the quality of life and economic vitality of the area. The Agency is responsible for implementing and enforcing the provisions of the federal Clean Air Act and all additional state and local air quality regulations in Buncombe County. We operate an air pollution monitoring network that is used to determine whether our area is in compliance with the national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS). Our program ensures that industrial facilities, gas stations, dry cleaners, grading contractors, and asbestos removal activities comply with all applicable air quality regulations that are put in place to protect the public health and welfare. We enforce the open burning regulations and respond to air quality related complaints and emergencies, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We offer compliance assistance, education and outreach services, and we are available to do presentations on air quality at the request of schools, civic groups, and other community organizations. We also maintain an indoor air quality hotline for citizen inquiries and have partnered with other agencies to distribute free radon test kits.
The WNCRAQA is governed by a five-member board. Three members are appointed by the Buncombe County Commissioners, and two members are appointed by the Asheville City Council. The Agency is also served by an advisory committee made up of community members from a wide range of backgrounds.
For the complete 2013 WNCRAQA Annual Summary Report, see attached below.