Residents can breathe easy: Michigan is meeting federal standards for small and large airborne particles.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notified Gov. Rick Snyder earlier this year that the state is attaining the most recently revised National Ambient Air Quality Standards, or NAAQS, for small particle pollution, commonly known as PM 2.5. In fact, the air meets all of the health-based standards for both small and large particles and for short- and long-term exposure.
The federal Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set NAAQS for six air pollutants: particle pollution, ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and lead. The NAAQS are reexamined frequently to ensure the best, most recent science is used to set levels protective of public health and welfare, especially of “sensitive populations” such as asthmatics, children and the elderly.
Exposure to high concentrations of PM 2.5 emissions can affect breathing, aggravate existing respiratory and cardiovascular ailments, and has been linked with heart and lung disease. PM 2.5 emissions come from sources like power plants, incinerators, industrial metal processing, wood burning and motor vehicles. PM 2.5 can be emitted directly or can form in the atmosphere from a mixture of gases such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ammonia, organic and elemental carbons, and volatile organic compounds.
The DEQ’s Air Quality Division is responsible for developing plans and implementing programs to meet and maintain all of the NAAQS. Ambient air monitoring systems, like the ones shown here at the Allen Park monitoring site in southeast Michigan, are an important part of the nation’s air quality management program infrastructure. The monitors collect data to indicate whether areas are meeting the NAAQS.
Through the years, Michigan has seen a dramatic improvement in PM 2.5 levels due to the efforts of both industry and the residents. Power plants, steel mills and diesel engines have all contributed to reducing PM 2.5 emissions. PM 2.5 levels in our atmosphere improve every year as reduction efforts continue and advances in technology are utilized.
This designation is a breath of fresh air for Michigan.
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