Contact: Mark Sulzbach, (651) 296-7768
Saint Paul, Minn. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the entire state of Minnesota is meeting its new, health-based outdoor air-quality standard for fine particles (soot). The EPA announced the news yesterday in letters to governors of all states in Region 5, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Minnesota.
The other states in Region 5 did not fare as well as Minnesota. According to the EPA, 76 counties do not meet the new standard for fine particulates, enacted in 2006: 14 counties in Illinois, 19 in Indiana, nine in Michigan, 28 in Ohio, and six in Wisconsin.
Minnesota had no counties that violated the 24-hour fine particulate standards. Compliance with the EPA's 24-hour standard is based on a three-year average from data collected by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) for the years 2005 through 2007.
"The MPCA is pleased with the findings and knows that, by most measures, Minnesota air quality is improving, said MPCA Assistant Commissioner David Thornton. "However, Minnesota will continue to have air pollution alerts from time to time, especially when we have temperature inversions with stagnant air that allows pollutants to build instead of disperse."
Fine particle pollution is microscopic solids and liquids that are 2.5 microns and smaller, usually emitted from power plants, vehicles, industry, small gasoline engines, and wood smoke. At elevated levels, fine particles can irritate the eyes, nose and throat and trigger serious respiratory problems, such as asthma or chronic bronchitis attacks. Fine particles can also trigger heart and cardiovascular events in people who have existing problems.
Minnesotans can help reduce fine particle pollution by decreasing electricity use, unnecessary driving and idling, and wood fires, especially during air pollution health alerts.
To see current air-quality readings or to sign up for air quality forecasts go to http://aqi.pca.state.mn.us/ on the Internet.