DETROIT (WWJ) – For the second straight year, air quality in Southeast Michigan has improved, according to data collected at air monitoring stations throughout the region.
SEMCOG, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, notes that fine particulate levels are now well within the national standards for this pollutant.
Fine particulates are too small to be seen by the naked eye, but can pass through the nose and be absorbed into the lungs, causing respiratory problems and aggravating certain medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease.
The main sources of fine particulates are fuel combustion by cars, trucks, trains, power plants, wood burning and certain industrial processes.
Improvements are largely due to the cost-effective pollutant control strategy that was developed and implemented by the state and local stakeholders over the last five years, and to recent national controls of vehicle and power plant emissions. Changes in the region’s economy, including reductions in manufacturing activity, have also played a role in these emissions reductions.
Based on air-monitoring data for 2001-2007, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had designated Southeast Michigan as a “nonattainment area” for fine particulate standards.
Pollution levels have been reduced 40 percent over the last eight years, putting the region well below the national standard.
This is especially significant because the region has also shown improvement in pollution levels of other air pollutants, most notable ozone.
SEMCOG is working with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality on a request to EPA to officially redesignate Southeast Michigan as an “attainment” area for this pollutant. Attainment status removes certain restrictions that could constrain economic growth in the region.