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Monthly Archives: January 2013

  • Air quality advocates in Utah reach out to local leaders

    In Utah, activists are asking local administrators to dedicate resources toward improving the state's air quality levels. According to the Deseret News, a group of air quality advocates met on January 26, 2013, to discuss possible ways for Utah officials to address air pollution throughout the state

    "I feel frustrated and I feel angry at our political leaders for not taking action on what [residents] consider to be one of the most important issues," Cherise Udell, founder of Utah Moms for Clean Air, told the news source.

    Udell noted that air quality activists are creating a pledge that lawmakers could sign to show their support for eliminating air pollution. Additionally, the Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, which represents medical professionals across the state, recently sent a petition to Governor Gary Herbert to urge state officials to find solutions to various air quality issues. 

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  • Missouri leaders discuss concerns about ozone levels

    Missouri officials are evaluating ozone levels in the southern part of the state due to data that shows high levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and oxides of nitrogen. According to the Southeast Missourian, members of the Southeast Missouri Regional Planning and Economic Development Commission's Air Quality Committee recently discussed air pollution readings and possible solutions to various air quality problems in the area. 

    David Grimes, deputy director of the planning commission in Perryville, Missouri, provided commission representatives with information from a "Path Forward" awareness plan. The strategy is designed to reduce air pollution and expand the state's voluntary compliance options in regards to federal standards.

    However, Grimes noted that fully recognizing the data's value is critical to improve air quality throughout the region. 

    "We need to make sure we understand the numbers," Grimes told the news source.

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  • California officials consider increasing number of no-burn days to reduce air pollution

    Business operators and homeowners in California's San Joaquin Valley could be affected by local officials' desire to meet federal air quality regulations by 2019. According to The Bakersfield Californian, local officials are considering an increase in the number of no-burn days - periods when administrators would limit activities such as residential wood burning and commercial cooking emissions - to control air pollution throughout the region. 

    San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District staff members noted that 90 percent of area residents live in portions of the region that will be in compliance with federal rules by 2017. However, specific areas of the valley are significantly impacted by air pollution, and these sections will need extra time to meet national requirements. Local Air Pollution Control District Executive Director Seyed Sadredin said that the plan has been comprehensively evaluated to ensure that the valley can meet the federal deadline. 

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  • Illinois county officials review air quality levels

    In Cook County, Illinois, local administrators are closely examining air quality levels after collecting data about particles, smog and toxic chemicals. According to Medill Reports, Cook County Environmental Control officials want to determine if air quality has improved throughout the region since 2011. 

    "A lot of this data is actually coming from our work and we're very proud of that," county Environmental Control representative Deborah Stone told the news source. 

    Stone noted that the information could significantly affect the county's future air quality policies. In fact, research showed that there was an 8 percent decrease in toxic air pollutants in Cook County in 2011, thanks in part to area officials' dedication to complying with Clean Air Act regulations. 

    Additionally, county Environmental Control officials are working with members of various departments to ensure that they put pollution limits on heavy-emission diesel vehicles that are commonly used by construction and maintenance companies. With new regulations in place, Cook County administrators could further enhance air quality levels across the area. 

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  • Federal officials want to reduce air pollution around Grand Canyon

    The Grand Canyon is a national landmark celebrated by thousands of visitors every year, and federal legislators are evaluating ways to reduce air pollution surrounding the area. According to the Arizona Republic, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggested the installation of a catalytic converter at a nearby coal-fired power plant to eliminate haze around the canyon.

    EPA officials noted that the Navajo Generating Station near Page, Arizona, is among the primary contributors to haziness at the landmark. Additionally, the station's emissions of nitrogen oxide affects all five southern Utah national parks and Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado.

    With the catalytic converter in place, federal administrators stated that the device could significantly lower nitrogen oxide emissions and potentially reduce visible Grand Canyon haze by roughly one-third. EPA leaders noted that they would like to use the best technology available to enhance air quality in the region.

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  • Air quality in Montana county exceeds federal limits

    Officials in Missoula County, Montana, have issued warnings for residents about air quality concerns throughout the area. According to the Missoulian, state administrators reported that air quality levels exceeded national limits due to particulate matter on January 18, 2013.

    Sarah Coefield, an air quality specialist, noted that she does not expect the county's air quality levels to improve soon.

    "The high pressure ridge parked over the Missoula Valley is unlikely to leave in the next several days," Coefield told the news source. "The high pressure ridge coupled with strong inversions means conditions will likely continue to deteriorate."

    Residents in Missoula County are encouraged to avoid nonessential driving and use public transportation if possible. Coefield stated that people with heart or lung disease, smokers, children and the elderly should limit prolonged exertion until air quality levels improve in the area.

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  • EPA invests in air pollution strategies in New Jersey and New York

    The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will spend $2.7 million to reduce air pollution from diesel engines in New Jersey and New York. EPA officials are targeting solutions to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter and improve air quality in both states.

    By helping two organizations replace several diesel engines, EPA administrators could eliminate the emissions of pollutants that are linked to health problems such as asthma and heart disease. While diesel engines are durable, older models predate stricter air pollution standards. However, the EPA's investment may reduce air pollution from some of the more than 11 million older diesel engines that are still in use.

    "Older diesel engines generate significant amounts of air pollution that can make people sick," EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck said. "Replacing old polluting diesel engines reduces asthma attacks and other respiratory ailments."

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  • Air quality in Alabama is improving

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that air quality is getting better in Birmingham, Alabama. According to The Associated Press, EPA officials noted that air conditions in Birmingham and its surrounding areas are improving, thanks in part to state administrators' increased focus on eliminating pollution concerns.

    Several Alabama departments were required to enhance air quality that was compromised due to pollution issues that have affected local citizens for the past 30 years. The news source states that car exhaust, industrial emissions and soot from coal-fired power plants were among the problems that added particulate matter to the air. However, state officials have improved emissions and pollution enforcement to ensure that the area fully complies with federal regulations.

    EPA representatives said that three Alabama counties now meet various primary air quality standards. State administrators noted that they anticipate air quality levels will continue to improve as they search for new ways to lower pollution levels throughout the area.

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  • Colorado officials to evaluate air pollution from gas and oil companies

    In January 2013, Colorado administrators announced that they will launch a three-year evaluation of air pollution from local gas and oil activity. According to the Denver Business Journal, the study will examine the health effects of air pollution from gas and oil companies across the state, especially firms located on the northern Front Range.

    Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said that the state will spend $1.3 million to complete the study. Additionally, government officials noted that some of the evaluation resources would come from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Environmental Response Fund, which is managed by the gas and oil industry.

    Dr. Chris Urbina, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, stated that the study could significantly help business owners and residents throughout the state.

    "We are working with all stakeholders to find the careful balance that protects the public and addresses legitimate concerns while ensuring that the oil and gas resources necessary to our economy can be safely developed," Urbina told the news source.

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  • Minnesota company penalized for emitting hazardous pollutants

    Superior Industries, a Minnesota company that specializes in the development and manufacturing of conveyor systems and components, received $20,000 in fines due to several pollution issues. According to the Star Tribune, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency penalized the company for hazardous pollution emissions between 2001 and 2011

    The business consistently exceeded the amount of dangerous organic compounds it was allowed to produce under its permit. Company officials told the agency about its hazardous pollution emissions in December 2010, but continued their actions through January 2011.

    Agency officials found that many of the compounds produced by Superior Industries were carcinogens that could cause serious health problems. Additionally, agency leaders discovered that the firm had an emergency generator that was not listed on its inventory, and control equipment had not been properly installed on sandblasting machines.

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