Air Quality Index: 51
Air Quality: Moderate
Highest Pollutant: Ozone
Burning Allowed: Yes
Air Quality Index
Air Quality
Highest Pollutant
Burning Allowed


In Hamilton County, the Air Pollution Control Board and the EPA have primary enforcement authority for air pollution regulations.  We have been granted a Certificate of Exemption, which means that the State of Tennessee has relinquished its primary authority to enforce air pollution regulations within Hamilton County and its included municipalities.

Air Pollution Control Regulations

To receive and maintain a Certificate of Exemption from the State, which is renewable every two years, local governments must establish and enforce air pollution regulations that are at least as stringent as state regulations. Local programs are regularly audited by both the state and the EPA to ensure that air pollution regulations are being adequately enforced.  In Tennessee, the metropolitan areas surrounding the cities of Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis also have Certificates of Exemption from state supervision.  The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) enforces air pollution regulations in the remaining 91 counties.

The Air Pollution Control Board and Bureau enforce air pollution regulations, but they do not make the laws. The Board recommends policies and regulations to local governments.  Then, Hamilton County, the City of Chattanooga and each municipality within Hamilton County decide whether to adopt recommended air pollution control regulations.

Citizen Involvement

Citizens and industries are given the opportunity to comment on proposed changes in local air pollution regulations.  Citizens who wish to become involved in the process are encouraged to get involved with their local governments and to talk with their city and county representatives about their views.  Interested citizens are also invited to attend Air Pollution Control Board meetings.  Board meetings are usually held on the first Monday of the month at 5:00 p.m.  A meeting notice is published in the “Legal Notice” section of local newspapers during the week before each Board meeting.


The Bureau responds to all complaints received concerning possible visible emissions from area companies, burning, odors and suspected asbestos materials.  Complaints within Bureau jurisdiction are investigated, while those that are outside of our jurisdiction are referred to the appropriate agency or group. A copy of the written report resulting from our investigation is provided to all complainants who request one. 

Local Ordinance

For local regulations please see the Chattanooga Air Pollution Control Ordinance, which serves as the basis of all air pollution control regulations.  Similar regulations have been adopted by Hamilton County and the included municipalities.  The following table cross references the Chattanooga Air Pollution Control Ordinance with those in Hamilton County and the cities of Collegedale, East Ridge, Lakesite, Lookout Mountain, Red Bank, Ridgeside, Signal Mountain, Soddy Daisy and Walden.  There may be slight variation from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.  One should refer to the actual ordinances for precise wording. 

Section Topic

ChattanoogaHamilton County,  Lookout Mt., Ridgeside, Signal Mt., WaldenCollegedale, LakesiteEast RidgeRed BankSoddy Daisy
Purpose & Title


Test Methods & Rules Cumulative4-3314-3038-70320-1038-103
Board Powers4-7714-3078-70720-1078-107
Permits, Including Asbestos D&R4-8814-3088-70820-1088-108
Charges for Reports4-9914-3098-70920-1098-109
Duty to Keep Records4-101014-3108-71020-1108-110
Certificate of Alternate Control4-131314-3138-71320-1138-113
Two Applicable Standards4-141414.3148-71420-1148-114
Suit to Abate4-151514-3158-71520-1158-115
Right of Entry4-161614-3168-71620-1168-116
Appeals/Hearings/ Judicial Reviews4-181814-3188-71820-1188-118
Reserved4-22 thru 4-4022 thru 4014-322 thru 14-3408-722 thru 8-74020-122 thru 20-1408-122 thru 8-140
Rules – Section4-414114-3418-74120-1418-141
Nitrogen Oxides222222
Visible Emissions333333
Hand-fired Fuel Equipment555555
Open Burning6

*Signal Mountain Ordinance Title 7, Chapter 2

Fuel-burning Equipment888888
Internal Combustion Engine Visible Emissions999999
Process Emissions101010101010
Transport (Open Air)111111111111
Sulfur Oxides131313131313
New Source (NSPS)151515151515
NESHAPS & MACT161616161616
Asbestos Emissions Standard171717171717
Prevention of Significant Deterioration181818181818
Infectious Waste Incinerators202020202020
Ambient Standards212121212121
Stack Heights222222222222
Process Gaseous Emissions232323232323
VOC’s (New: LAER or BACT)252525252525
Particulate Matter RACT2626 (Hamilton County Only)n/an/an/an/a
Particulate Matter BACT272727272727
Sulfuric Acid Mfg. Plants and Oleum Mfg. Plants282828282828
Oleum Transfers292929292929
Part 70 Sources4-50 thru 4-6750 thru 6714-350 thru 14-3678-750 thru 8-76520-150 thru 20-1658-150 thru 8-165
General Incorporation by Reference4-686814-3688-76820-1688-168


The Bureau monitors industrial air pollution sources through engineering reviews of plant operations, scheduled and unannounced inspections, patrols by Bureau investigators, citizen complaints and self-reporting by the industries.


When violations are discovered, the Bureau proceeds with enforcement actions as deemed appropriate.  Enforcement action usually begins with a Notice of Violation (NOV) being issued to the alleged violator.  The NOV is ordinarily followed by a Director’s Conference, at which the Bureau staff and the Director discuss the problem with the person or business involved to learn how and why the incident occurred.

During the Director’s Conference, the Director will determine whether a violation of the law has occurred.  At that time, the Director determines what action needs to be taken.  On occasion, the allegations may be dismissed.  As a condition of dismissing the allegations, the Director may issue a Director’s Order, requiring the alleged violator to take action to prevent future violations.

If the Director decides that the matter is serious enough to warrant recommending civil penalties and possible remedial action, the matter will be presented to the Air Pollution Control Board.  In most cases, a proposed agreement, called a Consent Order, between the alleged violator and the Board will be drafted. The Consent Order will state the violation, provide for civil penalties, and may include a plan to bring the violator into compliance. If the Bureau and the alleged violator agree upon the terms of the proposed Consent Order, it is presented to the Board. The Board then decides whether to accept the terms of the tentative settlement.

If the Bureau and the alleged violator cannot reach an agreement, the Bureau has the option of bringing the case before the Board in a contested hearing or taking the matter to court. In that event, the Board or the court will hear the evidence and arguments, determine whether a violation has occurred, and decide if any penalties and corrective actions will be required.  If the alleged violator does not agree with the Board’s or court’s decision, further judicial review is available.

At any time during the enforcement process, the Bureau and Board may refer a matter to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The EPA has the authority to enforce environmental laws and assists local and state programs in their enforcement efforts.  Also, if the EPA decides that local enforcement has been inadequate in a particular case, or if it has targeted a particular type of industry, it can over-file and enforce federally-approved limitations.

All enforcement cases are a matter of public record.  Interested citizens may view these files during normal business hours at the Air Pollution Control Bureau’s offices at 6125 Preservation Drive, Ste. 140, Chattanooga, TN 37416-3740.

State and Federal

The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Air Pollution Control Bureau is one of four counties in Tennessee with a local air pollution control program.  These four counties are Davidson (Nashville), Hamilton (Chattanooga), Knox (Knoxville) and Shelby (Memphis).  The remaining 91 counties are served by the state’s Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC).

The Bureau works with the state of Tennessee and the federal government to determine national standards for various air pollutants.  Then, communities measure to see if they meet those standards and develop pollution reduction plans for those pollutants that fail.  Upon review, these plans are presented by the state governor to the federal government as part of the state’s overall pollution reduction proposal, known as the State Implementation Plan (SIP), to achieve acceptable air qualities throughout the state.  The federal government then accepts the SIP or returns it for revamping.

The federal government agency involved is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which was created by an executive order from President Nixon.  Following its formulation, the EPA eventually singled out several pollutants as most urgently needing attention: hydrocarbons, lead, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, particulate and ozone.  For those “criteria” pollutants the EPA set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).

Hydrocarbons were dropped from the criteria pollutant list because controlling for ozone would also control hydrocarbons (the precursor to ozone).  Lead pollution has never appeared to be a problem in Hamilton County.

State Regulations: Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation 

As stated on The Division of Air Pollution Control’s page:

The Division of Air Pollution Control is directed to maintain the purity of the air resources of the State of Tennessee consistent with the protection of normal health, general welfare, and physical property of the people while preserving maximum employment and enhancing the industrial development of the State.

The Division directly serves 91 counties within the state and oversees and assists in the actions of Davidson, Hamilton, Knox, and Shelby counties, which have their own local air pollution control programs.

The Division establishes emission standards and procedure requirements to monitor industries in the State through the issuance of construction and operating permits.  Established to carry out control and abatement of air pollution, the Tennessee Air Pollution Control Board adopts regulations, holds hearings, and initiates court actions to enforce regulations.  Division staff function as the administrative agency of the Board.  Other duties include conducting source visits and compliance inspections, developing enforcement cases on violations of the regulations, maintaining surveillance of the state’s ambient air sampling stations, performing and observing stack tests, certifying persons as Visible Emissions Readers, and collecting and disseminating information relative to the control of air pollution. 

Federal Regulations: Environmental Protection Agency

EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation (OAR) works to improve air quality under the Clean Air Act.  They develop national programs, technical policies, and regulations for controlling air pollution and radiation exposure.  OAR is concerned with energy conservation and pollution prevention, indoor and outdoor air quality, industrial air pollution, pollution from vehicles and engines, radon, acid rain, stratospheric ozone depletion, and radiation protection.