Iowa could see more instances where its air is rated as poor quality as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has changed the standard for measuring pollution. Iowa Department of Natural Resources senior environmental specialist, Sean Fitzsimmons, says the E-P-A has decided to cut in half the number of fine particles of pollution that can be in the air.
Fitzsimmons says some areas of Iowa would be over the new limit based on past readings. Fitzsimmons says one area in Clinton and one in Muscatine are over the standard based on three years of data. The standard is 35 and Iowa City is just under 35, Cedar Rapids is at 33 and Davenport is at 32, so he says all of eastern Iowa is close to the standard.
Fitzsimmons says the areas that would be over the new limits have some time to clean things up. He says the new standards don’t have to be met until 2015 — although the state will be basing it’s air quality warnings on the new standard. Fitzsimmons says the E-P-A is working on some initiatives that the agency expects will make it easier for cities to meet the new standards.
Fitzsimmons says one of the things the E-P-A is doing is reducing the sulfur in diesel fuel, which results in a decrease in fine particulate levels. He says there’s also a change in the emissions of sulfur dioxide from power plants. Fitzsimmons says there’s a lot of things that produce the fine particles that get into the air and make it dirty. He says motor vehicles, power plants put out sulfur, animal feed operations put out suffer.
While you might think hot muggy days would create the most dirty air problems, Fitzsimmons says that’s not the case. Fitzsimmons says Iowa has a “nitrate issue” in the cold weather that keeps some chemicals from evaporating, so there’s more problems in the colder time of the year. An analysis of the data the past seven years shows an average of three days each year where monitored levels exceeded the old health threshold, versus seven days a year under the new threshold. Fitzsimmons says you can keep track of air quality issues by logging onto the E-P-A’s website: www.airnow.gov.
Related web sites:
E-P-A air quality readings