EPA targets Dane County over bad air quality

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

From an article by Anita Weier in The Capital Times:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to declare Dane County out of compliance with air quality standards for fine particle pollution on Thursday, according to Dave Merritt of the Dane County Clean Air Coalition.

The designation means that the county could lose federal funding for road projects and face strict pollution controls for new or expanded businesses, but Merritt is hopeful that the decision can be reversed before it actually goes into effect in April.

Fine particles are extremely tiny pollutants — about one-30th the diameter of a human hair — that can easily be inhaled and accumulate in the lungs, where they can worsen breathing and heart problems.

The particles, which typically consist of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, are produced by coal-burning power plants, some industrial processes, motor vehicles and wood burning.

The designation was based on three years of pollution data, from 2005 through 2007, but Merritt says the EPA now plans to consider data from 2006 through 2008, when Dane County had a much better record.

"Because we have had relatively clean air for fine particle pollution in 2008, we are hopeful that we will be in compliance," he said.