KNOXVILLE - Local leaders are working on a way to deal with an upcoming announcement from federal authorities that is expected to label nine counties as polluted.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has told nine East Tennessee counties they will likely be out of compliance with tougher fine particle standards when the official list comes out in November.
The state has been given until Sept. 1 to respond. Counties on the list face losing federal money for highway construction and face restrictions on new industries.
Local county officials appear to be spoiling for a fight, especially since one three-year study period shows only Hamilton and Knox counties don't meet the new standard.
New standards focus on airborne particles such as soot that is smaller than 1/30th the diameter of a human hair. They are small enough to enter the bloodstream and cause heart problems - as well as irritating respiratory conditions like asthma.