EPA sets new standards for monitoring

Posted: 1/27/2010

From Post-Tribune of Northwest Indiana: Northwest Indiana asthma sufferers will have a better idea in the coming years which geographical areas to avoid for health reasons.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday that it has set a new one-hour standard for nitrogen dioxide, a leading cause of smog. The new standard should ultimately reduce people's exposure to peak levels of nitrogen dioxide, especially near roads.

Exposure has been linked to asthma, especially in children, and reduces people's ability to fight off respiratory infections.

Studies published within the last few months also show nitrogen dioxide hinders the effectiveness of the medicine in asthma rescue inhalers and elevates senior citizens' risk of developing pneumonia, said Brian Urbaszewski, director of environmental health programs with the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago.

Nitrogen dioxide is created by vehicle emissions and industrial emissions.

EPA created a new standard of 100 parts per billion per hour. The agency is asking for 40 new monitors nationwide to be placed near roadways and in large urban areas that are vulnerable to elevated levels.

Based on monitoring results from 2006 to 2008, Cook County, Ill., is the only county in the nation that would have violated a 100 parts-per-billion standard. The county measured 116 parts per billion.

Urbaszewski said the existing monitoring network has been in place since the 1970s but is set up in communities, not near roads.

The greater Chicago area, which reaches into Northwest Indiana and Wisconsin, has nearly 9.6 million residents. Two monitors are required near roads and one in the community. Monitoring is already taking place.

EPA spokeswoman Phillippa Cannon said she didn't know whether Northwest Indiana would get new monitors as a result of the new standard.

"There'll be some changes. They'll revamp where the monitors are placed," she said.

EPA hopes the new standard will ultimately lead to fewer emergency room visits and hospital admissions.

It's the new first nitrogen dioxide rule in 35 years.

EPA expects to identify areas that do not meet the new standard, based on the existing community-wide monitoring network, by January 2012. New monitors must begin operating by Jan. 1, 2013. When three years of air quality data are available from the new monitoring network, EPA will determine which areas meet the standard.


Original here. View Respiratory Health Association's press release and media advisory.