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Indoor Air Quality Ordinance

Chapter 3 of the Montgomery County Code is the Air Quality Control Ordinance. The ordinance authorizes DEP to protect ambient (outdoor) air quality and indoor air quality in the County. It also prohibits air pollution from crossing property lines or leaseholds.

 

Key Provisions of the Air Quality Ordinance:

  • Establishes control and prohibition of indoor air pollution.

  • The ordinance authorizes DEP to protect ambient (outdoor) air quality and indoor air quality in the County. It prohibits air pollution from crossing property lines or leaseholds.

  • Indoor air pollutants include dust, odor, smoke, gas, radon, asbestos, and biological substances like viruses, bacteria, fungi, and molds.

  • A person must not allow the emission of indoor air pollution beyond the person's property line.

 

Enforcement of the Air Quality Ordinance:

The Department of Environmental Protection may cite a person in violation of the Air Quality Ordinance if we:

  • witness a violation; or

  • receive complaints from at least two individuals who have personal knowledge of the indoor air pollution.

Enforcement actions consist of warning letters, Notices of Violation, and Civil Citations. Civil Citations are subject to a penalty of up to $500, increasing to $750 for repeat offenders.

 

Exemptions to the Indoor Air Quality Ordinance:

  • The residential use of personal hygiene products

  • Smoking in a private home

  • Residential cooking odors

 

How Do I File an Indoor Air Quality Complaint?

To report indoor air quality violations, use 311 online form, call 311, or email DEP at askdep@montgomerycountymd.gov.

 

Montgomery County Indoor Air Quality Ordinance

The following is an excerpt from the full Air Quality Ordinance. It is the portion of the law that relates to indoor air pollution.  Sections 3-1 through 3-9 specifically relate to outdoor air quality.  The Air Quality Ordinance is Chapter 3 of the Montgomery County Code.  

For definitions, the purpose of the ordinance and outdoor air quality restrictions, view the full Air Quality Ordinance. (PDF, 600KB)

 

Sec. 3-10. Control and prohibition of indoor air pollution.

(a) A person must not cause or allow the emission of indoor air pollutants beyond the person’s property line in a manner that creates indoor air pollution.

(b) Subsection (a) does not apply to:

(1) the residential use of personal hygiene products;

(2) smoking in a private home; or

(3) residential cooking odors.

(c) In this Section, “property line” means the boundary of a residential or non-residential area that a person legally uses or owns. For a property divided into more than one legal unit, such as multi-family housing or a multi-tenant commercial property, “property line” also includes any boundary between a unit and a common area or between units.

(d) The Director may issue a citation for violating this Section if the Director:

(1) witnesses the violation; or

(2) receives complaints from at least 2 individuals who have personal knowledge of the indoor air pollution. (2002 L.M.C., ch. 6, § 1.)

Editor’s note—2002 L.M.C., ch. 6, § 2, states: Transition. Until superseded, an Executive Regulation issued under Chapter 3 before the effective date of this Act [April 11, 2002] remains in effect to the extent the regulation is consistent with this Act. This Act does not apply to a violation of Chapter 3 that occurred before this Act took effect [April 11, 2002]. 2002 L.M.C., ch. 6, § 1, repealed former § 3-10, “Abatement orders,” which was derived from 1975, L.M.C., ch. 17, § 1.

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Sec. 3-11. Determining compliance.

(a) Compliance methods. The Director may conduct testing or require a property owner to conduct testing to determine compliance with this Chapter in response to a complaint.

(b) Manner of testing. A property owner must conduct all tests in a manner, and before the deadline, set by the Director and submit a detailed report of all test results to the Director within 15 days after the testing is complete unless the Director grants an extension. Each test must be performed by a person qualified to conduct the test, as determined by the Director. (2002 L.M.C., ch. 6, § 1.)

Editor’s note—2002 L.M.C., ch. 6, § 2, states: Transition. Until superseded, an Executive Regulation issued under Chapter 3 before the effective date of this Act [April 11, 2002] remains in effect to the extent the regulation is consistent with this Act. This Act does not apply to a violation of Chapter 3 that occurred before this Act took effect [April 11, 2002]. 2002 L.M.C., ch. 6, § 1, repealed former § 3-11 “Revocation of permit,” which was derived from 1975, L.M.C., ch. 17, § 1.

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Sec. 3-12. Emergency provisions.

(a) Notwithstanding this Chapter or any other law, if the Director finds that a person is causing or contributing to air pollution and that the pollution creates an emergency that requires immediate action to protect the public health or safety, the Director must order the person to immediately reduce or stop the air pollution. That person must immediately comply with the Director’s order.

(b) If the Governor or the Secretary of the Maryland Department of the Environment declares an air pollution episode, the Director may take any action authorized under State law to protect the public health or safety. (1975 L.M.C., ch. 17, § 1; 2002 L.M.C., ch. 6, § 1.)

Editor’s note—2002 L.M.C., ch. 6, § 2, states: Transition. Until superseded, an Executive Regulation issued under Chapter 3 before the effective date of this Act [April 11, 2002] remains in effect to the extent the regulation is consistent with this Act. This Act does not apply to a violation of Chapter 3 that occurred before this Act took effect [April 11, 2002]. Former § 3-14, “Emergency provisions,” was repealed, reenacted with amendments, and renumbered § 3- 12, pursuant to 2002 L.M.C., ch. 6, § 1 2002 L.M.C., ch. 6, § 1, repealed former § 3-12, “Testing and monitoring,” which was derived from 1975 L.M.C., ch. 17, § 1.

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Sec. 3-13. Enforcement and penalties.

(a) The Director may enter a non-residential site during normal business hours or at any other reasonable time to inspect, investigate, or monitor activities subject to this Chapter. If the person in charge of the site does not consent to an entry by the Director, the Director must obtain an administrative search warrant from a court by satisfying reasonable statutory or administrative standards for conducting an inspection.

(b) The Director may, with the consent of the owner or occupant, enter a private dwelling at any reasonable time to inspect, investigate, or monitor activities subject to this Chapter. If the owner or occupant of the residence does not consent to an entry by the Director, the Director may obtain an administrative search warrant from a court by showing that reasonable legislative or administrative standards for conducting an area inspection have been satisfied.

(c) A person must not hinder, prevent, or unreasonably refuse to permit a lawful inspection, investigation, or monitoring under this Chapter.

(d) The Director, the Fire Administrator, or the Administrator’s designee may issue a notice of violation, corrective order, stop-work order, or civil citation to any person who causes or allows a violation of this Chapter.

(e) A person who causes or allows a violation of this Chapter must submit a plan for compliance if required under a notice of violation or corrective order. The plan must include a schedule to correct the violation. The Director must approve or disapprove the plan and any amendment to an approved plan.

(f) The Director may issue a stop-work order to any person who violates this Chapter in connection with an activity conducted under a building permit issued under Chapter 8 or a sediment control permit issued under Chapter 19.

(g) Any violation of this Chapter is a Class A violation. Each day a violation continues is a separate offense.

(h) In addition to any other remedy allowed by law, the Department may seek injunctive or other appropriate judicial relief to prevent or stop a violation of this Chapter. (2002 L.M.C., ch. 6, § 1.)

Editor’s note—2002 L.M.C., ch. 6, § 2, states: Transition. Until superseded, an Executive Regulation issued under Chapter 3 before the effective date of this Act [April 11, 2002] remains in effect to the extent the regulation is consistent with this Act. This Act does not apply to a violation of Chapter 3 that occurred before this Act took effect [April 11, 2002]. 2002 L.M.C., ch. 6, § 1, repealed former § 3-13, “Circumvention and right of entry,” which was derived from 1975 L.M.C., ch. 17, § 1.

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Sec. 3-14. Appeals.

(a) A person aggrieved by an action taken or an order issued under this Chapter may seek reconsideration by filing a written request with the Director within 10 days after the action or order. The request must state the date and nature of the action or order, the remedy requested, and why the Director should grant the request. Within 10 days after receiving the request, the Director must:

(1) issue a written decision on the request for reconsideration if the Director finds no material facts in dispute; or

(2) notify the person in writing of any material facts in dispute and:

(A) establish a deadline of not more than 30 additional days for the Department to resolve the dispute and the Director to issue a written decision on the request for reconsideration; or

(B) refer the matter to a hearing officer under Article I of Chapter 2A.

(b) A request for consideration does not stay the action or order unless the Director grants a stay. The Director’s decision on a request for reconsideration is a final decision.

(c) A person aggrieved by a final decision of the Director under this Chapter may appeal the action or order under Section 2A-11. (1975 L.M.C., ch. 17, § 1; 1993 L.M.C., ch. 20, § 1; 2002 L.M.C., ch. 6, § 1.)

Editor’s note—2002 L.M.C., ch. 6, § 2, states: Transition. Until superseded, an Executive Regulation issued under Chapter 3 before the effective date of this Act [April 11, 2002] remains in effect to the extent the regulation is consistent with this Act. This Act does not apply to a violation of Chapter 3 that occurred before this Act took effect [April 11, 2002]. Former § 3-16, “Appeals,” was repealed, reenacted with amendments, and renumbered § 3-14, pursuant to 2002 L.M.C., ch. 6, § 1. Former § 3-14, “Emergency provisions,” was repealed, reenacted with amendments, and renumbered § 3-12, pursuant to 2002 L.M.C., ch. 6, § 1. Editor’s note—2002 L.M.C., ch. 6, § 1, repealed former § 3-15, “Prima facie evidence of unlawful emissions,” which was derived from 1975 L.M.C., ch. 17, § 1.

Editor’s note—Former § 3-16, “Appeals,” was repealed, reenacted with amendments, and renumbered § 3-14, pursuant to 2002 L.M.C., ch. 6, § 1.

Editor’s note—2002 L.M.C., ch. 6, § 1, repealed former § 3-17, “Violations, penalties and liabilities,” which was derived from 1975 L.M.C., ch. 17, § 1; 1983 L.M.C., ch. 22, § 5.)

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Sec. 3-15. Prima facie evidence of unlawful emissions.

In any hearing of the district court for the county or any court of competent jurisdiction, the fact of operation without a valid permit, together with testimony as to ownership or responsibility from the records of the department shall be prima facie evidence of unlawful emissions and that the equipment for which the permit is not in effect is being operated in violation of the provisions of this chapter and regulations enacted pursuant thereto. (1975 L.M.C., ch. 17, § 1.)

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Sec. 3-16. Appeals.

Any person aggrieved by an order issued under this Chapter may appeal within 10 days from such order to the County Board of Appeals under Section 2-112(a). Such appeal does not stay execution of the order more than 10 days, unless the Board of Appeals grants a stay upon application of the person filing the appeal. (1975 L.M.C., ch. 17, § 1; 1993 L.M.C., ch. 20, § 1.) Sec. 3-17. Violations, penalties and liabilities. Failure to comply with any provision of this chapter shall constitute a class A violation as set forth in section 1-19 of chapter 1 of the County Code. (1975 L.M.C., ch. 17, § 1; 1983 L.M.C., ch. 22, § 5.) Notes

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