West Virginia has reported the air in Cabell and Wayne counties now meets U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards to reduce levels of harmful ozone.

Federal officials in 1987 ruled the region a "nonattainment area" because of high ozone levels and the designation was later downgraded to "moderate" in 1990.The area was supposed to have been redesignated to "attainment" on Oct. 21, but an EPA official said the redesignation would be held up until the agency could address the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition's concerns.

Ground-level ozone, along with exhaust and dirty air, produces smog and causes respiratory problems as well as irritation of the eyes and mucous membranes.

Friday's change in status may have a positive economic impact because major emissions sanctions against new or expanding businesses will be lifted, said Brian Farkas, spokesman for the state Division of Environmental Protection.

Salt Lake-based Huntsman Chemical is looking at Neal in Wayne County as a possible site for a $100 million styrene monomer plant.

Huntsman said it will build a $50 million ethylbenzene plant at the Neal site. That smaller plant would employ 10 to 15 people and would produce components for the larger styrene facility, which would have about 90 employees.