By Paul Kita, firstname.lastname@example.org
Levels of a dangerous pollutant have decreased during the past six
years in the Marietta area and are prompting state environmental
officials to ask for a better classification for the region.
averages for ozone levels around Parkersburg and Marietta dropped below
the upper limit of 85 parts per billion in the last two periods
monitored, said Laura Crowder, a technical analyst for the West
Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
The change is
prompting requests for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to
remove Wood and Washington counties from a list of regions that did not
attain the standard, according to Crowder and Bill Spires, manager of
the state implementation plan section of the Ohio EPA’s Division of Air
“It means the area is attaining the health-based standard for ozone,” Crowder said.
Spires said the state agencies are working together to make sure their numbers are consistent.
“U.S. EPA would like to be able to redesignate an entire metropolitan statistical area at the same time,” Spires said.
Wood and Washington counties have been cited in recent years as having some of the worst air in the nation.
which has three oxygen atoms instead of the two found in normal oxygen
molecules, is the main ingredient in smog and aggravates diseases such
as asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
It is formed by atmospheric reactions between different pollutants, with heat an important factor, Crowder said.
“It’s a summertime pollutant,” she said.
2001-03, the average ozone level in Wood County was 87 parts per
billion, Crowder said. From 2002-04, the level was 82 ppb, dropping to
78 ppb for the 2003-05 period.
In Washington County, the 2002-04 level was 83 ppb and the 2003-05 level was 81 ppb, according to West Virginia DEP documents.
Lower ozone levels are good news, said Barbara Stewart, member of Neighbors for Clean Air.
“It’s rare we hear of that,” Stewart said, later adding, “But I think we have a long way to go.”
said Neighbors for Clean Air is still concerned about the emission of
manganese, chromium dust and other chemicals in Marietta’s air.
Fitch, director of Marietta College’s environmental science program,
said he was not sure exactly what caused the reduction of ozone levels.
know some of the plants have put on some pollution controls that may
have marginally decreased the ozone levels, but nothing I am aware of
that could have caused such a jump,” Fitch said.
Valley’s coal and other petrochemical plants, combined with sunlight,
create ozone, but environmental variations can upset the balance and
decrease production, Fitch said.
Crowder said there were reductions on both sides of the Ohio River,
but the largest came from power plants in Ohio. A major contribution to
this was the EPA’s call to reduce levels of nitrogen oxide emitted by
power plants, she said.
American Electric Power’s Muskingum River
plant complied with the rule by installing a selective catalytic
reduction system that went online in the summer of 2005, AEP
spokeswoman Melissa McHenry said.
“The SCRs achieve upwards of
90 percent reduction,” she said. “It would have made a significant
reduction in NOx emissions last year.”
Spires said another major contributor was American Municipal Power of Ohio’s Gorsuch plant west of Belpre.
component in ozone is the amount of volatile organic compounds or
hydrocarbons. Those amounts decrease as people replace their older cars
with newer models that have lower emission standards, Spires said.
said he has not looked at the data, but the lower levels do not mean
the area will automatically be taken off the nonattainment list.
“They’re not just going to look at your numbers,” he said. “This is really, in a sense, the first car in a long train.”
Fitch said the EPA also will examine how the data was gathered and proposed plans for keeping the levels down.
know a lot of people who may not have the instrumentation but they
certainly have the experience to say air quality has not improved,” he
Public comments on the DEP’s request were being accepted
until last week, when a hearing was held Thursday at the Mid-Ohio
Valley Regional Council in Parkersburg. Data, including the request and
maintenance proposal, can be viewed online at www.wvdep.org, under the public notice and comment section on the Division of Air Quality’s page.
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