September 25, 2013 – The Clean Air Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for pollutants considered harmful to public health and the environment. The Clean Air Act identifies air quality standards to protect public health including protecting the health of "sensitive" populations such as asthmatics, children, and the elderly. EPA has set NAAQS for six principal pollutants, which are called "criteria" pollutants.
They are carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, PM 2.5, PM10, and sulfur dioxide. The three criteria pollutants of most concern to the Bi-State Region are ozone, PM2.5, and sulfur dioxide.

Good news for Scott and Rock Island Counties, there have been noair quality exceedences to date in 2013. Note: there are no monitors for NAAQS in Henry and Mercer Counties. Exceedences of sulfur dioxide and fine particulates have persisted in the Muscatine County area. In 2010, a new standard for sulfur dioxide was put in place that has contributed to the high number of poor air quality readings in Muscatine. As a result, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) in cooperation with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IADNR) held outreach meetings in Muscatine. A non-attainment designation for sulfur dioxide in Muscatine was announced earlier this year. IADNR is working with Kent Foods Corporation (GPC), Muscatine Power and Water, and Union Tank Car to implement stationary source emission reduction measures to address the sulfur dioxide non-attainment designation. The cost of improvements implemented by the businesses will total over $100 million. These improvements should also reduce the level of fine particles in the air.

As a result of the continuing changes in the regulations, education and outreach remain important. Bi- State continues to conduct outreach including publication of newspaper tabs, press releases, and other media outreach.

The USEPA thru the IADNR and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (ILEPA) are required by law to reduce exposure to hazardous air pollutants. EPA has issued over 120 National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants. Some of these standards apply to both major and area sources of hazardous air pollution, and some apply just to one or the other.

Major sources are those with facility-wide potential or actual emissions of 10 tons per year, or more of any single hazardous air pollutant or 25 tons per year or more of a combination of hazardous air pollutants. These are named Title V facilities and are randomly inspected.

Area sources are those with potential and actual emissions below the major source thresholds. Businesses may need an air permit if any operations or equipment release air emissions (dust, vapors, fumes, etc.). Air permits may be required if equipment or processes:

  • Include a stack, vent, or dust collector
  • Use solvent, paints, inks, or adhesives
  • Burn fuel
  • Cause smoke, dust, or odors

Any activity that emits or can reasonably be expected to emit an air pollutant would need to have appropriate permits from the IADNR or the ILEPA. Permits are issued prior to beginning construction or modification unless exempted pursuant to a rule or statute. Examples of businesses that typically need permits are large industry, body shop repair establishments, dry cleaners, gasoline stations, and plating and polishing operations, among others.