State officials have issued an advisory warning residents in Muscatine County that there’s smog in the area.
Air quality monitors in Muscatine County have recorded “fine particle pollution levels” above U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards. Sean Fitzsimmons of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says Muscatine County residents with respiratory or heart ailments should limit their time exercising or doing chores outside.
“We recorded high values at a monitor at Garfield School in Muscatine. There’s an east wind and there’s an industry in the community that’s directly east of the monitor,” he says. “And so we put out an advisory for Muscatine County to alert folks in the area so that they could take precautionary measures.”
An ethanol plant and other industries are near the air quality monitor at that elementary school in Muscatine. Light smog is reported in other parts of eastern Iowa today, but the “fine particle levels” in the air do not exceed E.P.A. health standards.
Last Friday, air quality monitors in eastern, central and western Iowa recorded smog levels above E.P.A. standards. Fitzsimmons says air quality in the Muscatine area will likely improve Wednesday morning when a winter storm passes through.
“With the advancing winter storm, we expect the wind velocities to increase and that should dilute the local emissions in the area and then the regional emissions should also go down for similar reasons,” Fitzsimmons says. “The situation we get in is when the winds are light the pollutants build up around the industries in the area and on a broader, regional scale the pollutants build up as well, so as the winds pick up, the pollutant levels should go down.”
On Friday, December 18, air quality monitors in Des Moines, Emmetsburg, Waterloo, Iowa City and at Viking Lake State Park recorded smog levels above E.P.A. standards. Find the federal government’s air quality map on-line at http://www.airnow.gov.