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Emissions are down—Get outdoors to enjoy improved air

  • 5/5/2022 2:56:00 PM
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It’s spring. That time of year when temperatures warm, mushrooms pop up and the outdoors beckons. 

So run. Hike or bike. Hunt for mushrooms. Take photos. Visit our parks. And count on better air quality. Over the last 18 years, Iowa industries have significantly reduced six major air pollutants, along with total hazardous air pollutants, while growing our economy.

“Air quality has improved dramatically,” said Kayla Lyon, DNR director. “Iowa industries have stepped up—replacing aging equipment with newer, better technologies and processes. Their efforts have paid off to help Iowans breathe easier.” 

Air pollutants are down, according to Iowa DNR’s emissions inventories. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide have decreased the most—down by nearly 90 and more than 70 percent. For example, sulfur dioxide decreased from 183,780 tons in 2002 to 24,083 tons in 2020.

DNR is looking out for Iowans’ health. The annual emissions inventory tallies reports from facilities that emit pollutants. Tracking air pollutants helps DNR ensure Iowa companies comply with pollution regulations designed to protect public health and the environment.

Predictive modeling and two types of monitoring also help DNR evaluate air quality. Computer modeling predicts the quantity of pollutants in the air we breathe. The models forecast how pollutants spread out from a source. This tool helps DNR determine if pollution from industrial facilities will meet federal standards. DNR also monitors air quality. At the source, emissions monitoring shows if an industrial facility meets specific pollutant limits included in its air permits. In our communities, air monitors collect and evaluate pollutants in the air we breathe.

Air pollution can make breathing difficult, harm people’s respiratory systems or trigger asthma and other illnesses. Modeling and monitoring air pollution helps protect Iowans. 

If you want to dig into the data, emission reports, and modeling and monitoring data are available on the air quality webpages. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency summarizes long-term air quality data across the U.S. And, just published, the American Lung Association’s State of the Air report shows Iowa has clean air. Find out more about air quality trends in Iowa and your neighborhood. Or, explore a few ways you can help keep Iowa’s air healthy

Air quality awareness week is May 2 – 6.