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Less pollution overall, but Michigan's air still exceeds EPA limits at times

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) monitors six different forms of air pollution at locations across the state. In its 112 page Air Quality Annual Report for 2020 it reports periodically some spots exceeded the standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

One pollutant is ozone which causes problems for the west side of the state.

“We have some counties and some areas that are not meeting the national ambient air quality standards for ozone," said Susan Kilmer is the supervisor of the Air Monitoring Unit.

Part of that ozone drifts across Lake Michigan from Chicago.

There’s also some areas in southeast Michigan which are also exceeding the ozone standard.

That area, which includes Detroit, also periodically exceeds standards for sulfur dioxide. That’s prompted an environmental group to sue the EPA to force Michigan to be in compliance.

Overall, though, Michigan’s air has been getting cleaner over the years.

“We’ve seen a decrease in things like ozone and fine particulate matter. And really it can be attributed to a lot of different factors, things such as cleaner burning vehicles and the public’s knowledge of what it takes to reduce air pollution,” Kilmer said.

There is one pollutant which spikes at one point each year. Particulate matter, soot, exceeds EPA standards every year right around July 4 because of fireworks.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Radio from 1998-2010.
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