2009 Oct. 8: WA Tacoma: on EPA non-attainment for particle pollution (24-hour)

Tacoma’s dirty air ranks among 31 most-polluted places in U.S.

BY ROB CARSON; The News Tribune
Last updated: October 9th, 2009 02:35 AM (PDT)

The Tacoma area on Thursday officially received a dirty air designation from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which branded it as one of 31 most polluted places in the country. The formal federal designation as a “non-attainment area” is new, but the data behind it are not. The EPA listing is based on air quality monitoring from 2006 to 2008.

“It just makes it official,” said Amy Warren, spokeswoman for the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. “Everybody’s been seeing this coming for more than a year.”

Inclusion on the list means the Tacoma area must develop a plan to reduce pollution by 2012 and demonstrate it is meeting federal standards by 2014, said David Kircher, manager of the Clean Air Agency’s Air Resources program.

The delay in the official designations for the non-attainment areas was because of the transition at the EPA from the Bush administration to the Obama administration, Warren said.

Specifically, the designation is for “PM2.5” pollution, scientific shorthand for particulate matter that is 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller – ultra fine particles found in smoke and haze.

The size of airborne particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. Health officials are concerned about particles 10 micrometers in diameter or smaller because they pass through the throat and nose and enter the lungs.

Once inhaled, they can affect the heart and lungs and cause serious health effects. Sources typically include fires, power plants, factories and motor vehicles. In Tacoma’s case, Warren said, the main culprits are inefficient wood stoves, fireplaces, diesel engines and local geography, which tends to trap polluted air in winter months.

Tacoma is the only city in the state on the list and one of five designated areas in the Pacific Northwest. Others in the region are parts of Fairbanks, Alaska; Franklin, Idaho; and Klamath Falls and Oakridge in Oregon.

Tacoma’s non-attainment area includes nearly all of the city (except for Point Defiance Park) and the suburbs to the south, east and west. McChord Air Force Base and Fort Lewis are not included.

In anticipation of the listing, several elements of a pollution control plan have been instituted in Tacoma. They include measures taken by the Port of Tacoma to reduce diesel exhaust, efforts by the city and Pierce County to move to less polluting vehicles, and programs intended to motivate consumers to weatherize their homes.

Rob Carson: 253-597-8693

rob.carson@thenewstribune.com

Originally published: October 8th, 2009 10:56 PM (PDT)

 

EPA says Tacoma must clean up its air Thursday, October 8, 2009
Last updated 1:06 p.m. PT
BY SCOTT SUNDE
SEATTLEPI.COM

Federal regulators said Thursday that the Tacoma area is violating air pollution standards and must clean up.
The area will have three years to come up with a plan to do that and two years after that to meet the standard.
The Tacoma area was one of 31 across the country on Thursday that the Environmental Protection Agency identified as not meeting the standard for fine particle air pollution such as dust, smoke and soot.
The pollution can come from such sources as car exhaust, but in Tacoma’s case a prime source is winter heating. In cold periods, use of fuel-oil furnaces and wood stoves increase often at a time of stagnant air.
The particles are less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. A human hair is 100 micrometers in diameter.
Particles this small can easily lodge within lungs.
If the density in the air of these particles exceed certain levels, that can increase the risk of respiratory problems — especially among the elderly and physically active children.
The standard for such pollution is less than 35 micrograms per cubic meter of air. EPA measures showed Tacoma at 44 micrograms per cubic meter of air.
The Tacoma area was already on notice that action was needed to meet the standard, though Thursday’s announcement had been delayed.
EPA officials have said local governments in the Tacoma area already are working on the problem.
Parts of Pierce County in and around Tacoma were the only locations in Washington to be identified as not meeting the standard for fine particle air pollution.
Also identified were a part of Fairbanks North Star Borough in Alaska, part of Franklin County in Idaho and parts of Klamath and Lane counties in Oregon.


Scott Sunde can be reached at 206-448-8331 or scottsunde@seattlepi.com
© 1998-2009 Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Tacoma officially makes EPA’s list of polluted places
Air: Four other cities in Northwest included
ROB CARSON; The News Tribune
Last updated: October 9th, 2009 09:13 AM (PDT)

The Tacoma area on Thursday officially received a dirty air designation from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which branded it as one of 31 most polluted places in the country. The formal federal designation as a “non-attainment area” is new, but the data behind it are not. The EPA listing is based on air quality monitoring from 2006 to 2008.
“It just makes it official,” said Amy Warren, spokeswoman for the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. “Everybody’s been seeing this coming for more than a year.”
Inclusion on the list means the Tacoma area must develop a plan to reduce pollution by 2012 and demonstrate it is meeting federal standards by 2014, said David Kircher, manager of the Clean Air Agency’s Air Resources program.
The delay in the official designations for the non-attainment areas was because of the transition at the EPA from the Bush administration to the Obama administration, Warren said.
Specifically, the designation is for “PM2.5” pollution, scientific shorthand for particulate matter that is 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller – ultra fine particles found in smoke and haze.
The size of airborne particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. Health officials are concerned about particles 10 micrometers in diameter or smaller because they pass through the throat and nose and enter the lungs.
Once inhaled, they can affect the heart and lungs and cause serious health effects.
Sources typically include fires, power plants, factories and motor vehicles. In Tacoma’s case, Warren said, the main culprits are inefficient wood stoves, fireplaces, diesel engines and local geography, which tends to trap polluted air in winter months.
Tacoma is the only city in Washington on the list and one of five designated areas in the Pacific Northwest. Others in the region are parts of Fairbanks, Alaska; Franklin, Idaho; and Klamath Falls and Oakridge in Oregon.
Tacoma’s non-attainment area includes nearly all of the city (except for Point Defiance Park) and the suburbs to the south, east and west.
McChord Air Force Base and Fort Lewis are not included.
In anticipation of the listing, several elements of an overall pollution control plan have been instituted in Tacoma.
They include measures taken by the Port of Tacoma to reduce diesel exhaust, efforts by the city and Pierce County to move to less polluting vehicles and programs intended to motivate consumers to weatherize their homes and improve the efficiency of heating systems.
On Sept. 25, the Clean Air Agency renewed a program that uses a $650,000 state grant to pay people to replace inefficient wood stoves and fireplace inserts.
Tacoma and Pierce County recently received a federal economic stimulus grant to establish a home heating and energy conservation program in five ZIP codes – 98408, 98444, 98445, 98446 in the Parkland/Spanaway area and 98373, excluding Puyallup.
Rob Carson: 253-597-8693
rob.carson@thenewstribune.com

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