2010 March 6: IA: DNR finds higher particulate levels in northeast Iowa, Johnson County

2010 March 6: IA: DNR finds higher particulate levels in northeast Iowa, Johnson County

By Thomas Geyer and Barb Ickes | Posted: Saturday, March 6, 2010 2:00 am | No Comments Posted

Elevated fine particulate pollution levels were recorded Friday in northeast Iowa and Johnson County, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Particulate levels in those regions of the state are expected to remain near health standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency until late this morning.
The threshold is 35 micrograms per cubic meter, according to the DNR.
Todd Russell, of the DNR, said long-lasting snow cover and warm upper air have created problems for much of the winter.
“It’s been a strange winter in Iowa,” he said. “With cold on the ground and warm air aloft, the warm air pushes things down and acts like a blanket. Everything gets trapped in that lower level.”
Pollutants have no way to escape and move on, he said.
Despite a season of air-quality alerts, Davenport has remained at the moderate level for fine-particle pollution.
“Davenport wasn’t included on this latest alert,” he said. “Conditions in Davenport are actually looking pretty good.”
He credited industrial impact with pollution alerts that have been issued in Muscatine — even as Davenport remains “right in the moderate category.”
Gena McCullough, planning director at the Bi-State Regional Commission, said one of the reasons the area is seeing more particulate matter alerts is because the EPA standard has been reduced.
“A few years ago, the standard was double what it is today,” she said.
Typically, there are two different seasons for fine particulate matter, McCullough said.
During the winter, it is caused by combustion, including home heating, wood-burning stoves, industries that rely on combustion as part of their manufacturing processes and transportation.
“It all adds up,” McCullough said, adding that reducing energy consumption will ease the pollution.
In the summer, she said, fine particulate matter alerts are related more to sulfur dioxide events and ozone events that take a chemical reaction that includes strong sunshine, the chemicals in the air that combine and react to the heating of the sun and very low wind speeds.
Generally, she said, monitoring for ozone events is done between May and the end of September.
Winter events generally occur when there is a warming trend, McCullough said. It creates a situation that is added to what is already being emitted by homes, vehicles and businesses.
Planting trees and plants in yards, using a manual push mower instead of a gasoline-powered mower, changing to compact florescent light bulbs, and of course, using a fuel-efficient passenger vehicle, walking or biking to destinations, and increasing the use of public transportation are just some ways people can help reduce bad emissions, she said.

Posted in Local on Saturday, March 6, 2010 2:00 am | Tags: Iowa Department Of Natural Resources, U.s. Environmental Protection Agency, Todd Russell, Gena Mccullough, B-state Regional Commission, Epa, Dnr

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