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Iowa's natural resources plates include the state bird and flower, pheasant, eagle, buck and a Brook trout. Support conservation in Iowa by buying a natural resource plate for your vehicle.
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This section is devoted to sources of pollution in your neighborhoods. Seven out of 100 children have asthma. Other air pollution-sensitive groups include the elderly, those with compromised heart or lungs, athletes and outdoor workers who perform strenuous activities.
Idling your car in the driveway needlessly, burning leaves, using inefficient wood burning stoves or fireplaces, or burning trash in a backyard barrel could send a person living across the street, next door, cattycorner or someone in your household to the doctor or emergency room. Do your part to care for those in your neighborhood. Reduce unnecessary air pollution.
To report an environmental concern you must contact
your local Iowa DNR field office.
While you play your part in clearing the air in Iowa, large industries have improved air quality dramatically—decreasing pollution emissions from six common air pollutants by 41 percent since 1990. While individual companies may increase emissions as they expand, they must continue to meet state and federal air quality standards. Over the last 25 years, Iowa companies added more efficient equipment and switched to less polluting energy sources—improving Iowa’s air quality while continuing to grow our economy.
Even better news, two air pollutants that contribute to ground‐level ozone and airborne particles—the pollutants that pose the greatest threat to human health—have decreased signiﬁcantly. Sulfur dioxide emissions are down 60 percent and nitrogen oxides are down 43 percent. At the same time, Iowa’s gross domestic product soared (up by 210 percent), energy consumption increased by 59 percent, vehicle miles traveled climbed by 43 percent and population gained by 12 percent. Attaining good air quality protects public health, allows existing facilities to expand and attracts new industry to Iowa.
Why should communities plan for air quality in a state that has experienced relatively few exceedances of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency health standards?
Because health standards are being strengthened due to mounting evidence that humans and the environment are impacted by pollution more than previously believed. Every voluntary action to reduce pollution keeps our communities’ air cleaner, which in turn contributes to a healthier place to live, both economically and environmentally.
The objectives are to:
There’s no doubt that community leaders influence citizens. If they model good environment protection planning and practices, residents and businesses will follow their lead.
Corn burners are an alternative safe and reliable heat source, but DNR officials caution against burning chemically treated seed corn, which can release toxic chemicals when burned.
Burning treated seed corn can emit low levels of hydrochloric acids and thiophosgene, also known as mustard gas. The highest emissions can occur at start up and shutdown, when combustion temperatures are lower, or if the unit is damped down.
Many corn burner manufacturers warn consumers against using chemically treated seed corn that is pink or red in color and contains Captan and other pesticides that can emit toxins when burned.
Burning regular corn can be a clean, excellent source of heat using renewable, Iowa grown energy. Just avoid chemically treated seed corn, often provided free by companies trying to get rid of old supplies.
For more information contact Christine Paulson at 515-725-9510.
Fireworks displays are a spectacular and traditional method of celebrating some national and cultural traditions such as Independence Day on the 4th of July.
On July 4th, 2008 a fine particulate monitor in Davenport measured a 24-hour fine particulate concentration of 62.3 ug/m^3 (micrograms per cubic meter), nearly twice the EPA health threshold of 35.5 ug/m^3. This was the highest value measured at the site since the monitor was installed in January, 1999.
As this event demonstrated, under the right meteorological conditions, the emissions from fireworks displays can be trapped near the ground and build up to unhealthful levels. The DNR recommends that members of the public take reasonable precautions to minimize exposures to emissions from fireworks displays, including avoiding areas of dense smoke near the launch areas of fireworks displays.
Asthmatics and those with respiratory difficulties, as well as the elderly and children, are the groups most likely to experience adverse health effects associated with elevated levels of fine particles. The DNR suggests that people who are susceptible to the impacts of high particulate levels view these displays from a safe distance and from a vantage point upwind of the fireworks. EPA advises that individuals limit prolonged outdoor exertion when particulate levels are elevated.
Concern over chemicals contained in fireworks smoke (including perchlorate and colorant metals) has lead to the development of a new variety of cleaner burning fireworks based on nitrogen-rich compounds. These fireworks do not require the use of perchlorate as an oxidizer, and because they produce less smoke, require smaller amounts of potentially toxic metal colorants. The Disney Corporation has pioneered the use of compressed air (instead of black powder) as a propellant at its fireworks displays. The DNR recommends that communities consider these “low- smoke” alternatives to conventional fireworks when planning their displays.
Idling is wasteful. It costs drivers money, consumes non‐renewable resources, and contributes to local air pollution, while the vehicle does not move an inch.
The air quality impacts of engine idling are considerable. An idling engine burns fuel at a lower temperature than an engine operating at driving speed. Since the vehicle is not moving, it is sitting in its own exhaust, further impeding fuel combustion and releasing more hydrocarbons than a moving vehicle.
While restarting a vehicle does increase use of the battery, alternator, and starter motor, it reduces wear and tear on the engine when compared to idling. A vehicle that is running will sustain wear and tear on the engine, spark plugs, alternator, and exhaust system. The EPA recommends idling for no more than 30 seconds at a time to control maintenance costs, fuel costs, and pollution.
When picking up children from school, turn off the engines in front of schools. Children are especially impacted by air pollution because their lungs are still growing.
When dropping off or picking up dry cleaning, using bank services, and picking up food at a fast food restaurant, park the car and use counter service. You’ll be more easily understood by the person serving you, and you’ll lessen vehicle exhaust for the individuals who live and work in the area.
The fluctuating costs of petroleum-based fuels for home heating has many Iowans looking at wood burning as a source of home heating.
EPA’s Strategies for Reducing Residential Woodsmoke website will help you “learn before you burn,” and assists consumers in making informed decisions about wood heating. Here are some facts to consider about residential wood burning.
Additional information about residential wood burning is available at
EPA’s Burnwise website.
Vehicle exhaust is a leading contributor to air quality concerns. Vehicles and other mobile sources create over half of Iowa’s air pollution! Much of this pollution comes from a small population of poorly maintained vehicles – the easiest ones to spot have visible smoke emissions. One smoking vehicle creates as much pollution as up to 30 properly functioning cars.
The tiny particles and other pollutants in vehicle exhaust contribute to respiratory problems and to cancer-risk. Everyone can be affected, but sensitive populations including children, the elderly, and those with respiratory illness are especially at risk. Cleaning up smoking vehicles will improve air quality to help Iowans breathe easier.
Excessive exhaust is a clue something is not working properly. Since smoke can be unburned fuel, repairs can yield savings of up to 13% at the gas pumps! Other benefits include enhanced engine performance, higher resale value, reduced emissions, longer engine life, and improved air quality.
Visible tailpipe smoke can vary in color to indicate different engine problems. Use the chart below to help diagnose problems. This is a guide, and not a substitute for consulting an auto technician: