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Comments Sought on EPA Nonattainment Recommendation for Muscatine County
Posted: 02/14/2013
WINDSOR HEIGHTS – The Iowa DNR is asking for comments from residents and businesses on a federal recommendation that Muscatine County be designated in “nonattainment” of national air quality standards for sulfur dioxide.

The recommendation comes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency after considering monitoring data from Musser Park in Muscatine. Data were collected for one-hour periods from 2008 through 2010, and more recently from 2009 through 2011. Analysis of the measurements show that the one-hour sulfur dioxide limit established under the national ambient air quality standard was violated.

The one-hour sulfur dioxide standard is set at 75 parts per billion, a level designed to protect against short-term exposures. Science indicates that short-term exposures to sulfur dioxide are of greater concern than previously believed. Those most sensitive are individuals with asthma, bronchitis, emphysema or other lung and heart diseases, as well as children and the elderly.

Existing sources in the nonattainment area that emit sulfur dioxide may be required to reduce their emissions. New sources that emit sulfur dioxide above certain levels in the nonattainment area will be required to be constructed with air pollution controls that result in the lowest sulfur dioxide emissions technically feasible.  

The EPA has given the DNR until April 8 this year to provide additional information to EPA before EPA finalizes the nonattainment recommendation.

The DNR asks county residents and businesses to send comments and technical input on the recommendation to DNR by March 15. The technical input should inform and provide support for comments and possible alternative nonattainment area recommendations provided to the DNR. DNR will consider the comments before submitting a response to EPA.

Comments can be sent to Jim McGraw at the DNR Air Quality Building, 7900 Hickman Road, Suite 1, Windsor Heights, IA 50324, or, by email to Call 515-242-5167 for more information.

The EPA is also seeking comments on the preliminary recommendation and plans to publish a notice in the Federal Register to announce a 30-day comment period. The DNR encourages county residents and businesses to send comments to both agencies.

EPA plans to finalize the nonattainment designation by June 2013, after extending the deadline for one year because the agency lacked sufficient information to make the designation.

The EPA strengthened the health-based or primary standard for sulfur dioxide one-hour average concentrations to 75 parts per billion on June 3, 2010. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA has two years to complete the initial designations process after launching a new or revised standard.

Find additional technical background regarding EPA’s recommendation: