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Iowa city targets air quality improvements

In November 2012, sulfur dioxide (SO2) levels in Muscatine, Iowa, exceeded the standards established by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources' Ambient Air Monitoring Group. According to the Muscatine Journal, the city had 308.8 parts per billion for SO2, which equates to roughly an air quality index of more than 200, during a measurement on November 10.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that sulfur dioxide in the air comes primarily from activities associated with the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil at power plants or from copper smelting. SO2 can cause numerous health problems, including breathing, nose and throat issues, and Muscatine officials intend to improve the city's air quality.

Jessica Brackett, executive director of Clean Air Muscatine, said that city officials are working with the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to resolve the higher-than-average SO2 levels in the area. The EPA established a February 2013 deadline for the state's Department of Natural Resources to develop a strategy for reducing air pollution in Iowa.

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