On Dec. 17, 2014, EPA published in the Federal Register its proposed revision to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone

The EPA is proposing to revise the primary ozone standard to a level within the range of 0.065 to 0.070 parts per million (ppm), and to revise the secondary standard to within the range of 0.065 to 0.070 ppm.

Written comments on this proposed rule must be received by March 17, 2015. Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA–HQ– OAR–2008–0699, to the EPA by one of the following methods: Continue reading “On Dec. 17, 2014, EPA published in the Federal Register its proposed revision to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone”

EPA Proposes Revised Ozone Standard

On Nov. 26, EPA proposed revising the ozone standards, recommending a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion (ppb) for both the primary and secondary standards. The current ozone standard is set at 75 ppb.

Ozone is the primary component of smog. It forms in the lower atmosphere when emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds “cook” in the sun.  Emissions from sources such as transportation, industry, power plants, and products such as solvents and paints are among the major man-made sources of ozone-forming pollutants.

Why did EPA release a new draft standard now?  Continue reading “EPA Proposes Revised Ozone Standard”

Kentucky Submits Comments to U.S. EPA on the Proposed 111(d) rule for Limiting Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet (EEC) today submitted its comments regarding the proposed federal 111(d) rule to the Environmental Protection Agency. Currently, the rule is scheduled to be published June 1, 2015. States will have a year from that date to develop a compliance plan.

To download the full comment document, go to http://eec.ky.gov/Pages/default.aspx. The following is a statement released today by EEC in regards to the comments it submitted. Continue reading “Kentucky Submits Comments to U.S. EPA on the Proposed 111(d) rule for Limiting Greenhouse Gas Emissions”

Getting the Most from your Wood Heating Appliance

Properly seasoned wood should contain less than 20 percent moisture. This wood is ready to burn.

Many of us turn to wood heat to stave off winter’s chill. But before you fire up that wood stove or fire place, make sure your wood is ready to burn. Burning wet or unseasoned wood can give you more smoke than heat, polluting the air for you and your neighbors. Burning wet wood can even damage your wood burning appliance or chimney by causing creosote build-up.

Wood smoke may smell good, but it’s not good for you.  Burning wood floods the air with fine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs.  Study after study link fine particle pollution to serious health problems including heart and lung disease.  Burning wood improperly also releases hazardous chemicals such as dioxins, formaldehyde, and arsenic. Inefficient burning – either because of poor air flow or burning wet wood – creates more pollution.  Continue reading “Getting the Most from your Wood Heating Appliance”

Yellow is the New Green in Crittenden County

School Board Welcomes More Propane School Buses

Wayne Winters shows off Crittenden County's new propane-fueled school bus.
Wayne Winters shows off Crittenden County’s new propane-fueled school bus.

It’s not every day you see someone eating popcorn beside a tailpipe, but that’s exactly what Crittenden County Schools lead vehicle mechanic, Wayne Winters, did to demonstrate how clean the propane autogas that fuels their new school buses is.  Compared to their diesel counterparts, the propane buses produce no particulate matter and have 98% less nitrogen oxides emissions – pollution that is linked to increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and respiratory problems.   Continue reading “Yellow is the New Green in Crittenden County”

The Kentucky Division of Air Quality’s 2014 Annual Report

The Kentucky Division for Air Quality (DAQ) is pleased to announce the release of the 2014 annual report, which details the division’s mission, function, and commitment to protecting human health and the environment.

Kentucky’s continued trend of air quality improvement is evident in the charts found in the Technical Services Branch section of this report.  These achievements are only obtained through:

  • developing effective regulations and control strategies by the Program Planning Branch;
  • issuing appropriate permits containing all applicable requirements by the Permit Review Branch; and
  • inspecting sources of air emissions and enforcing emission limitations by the Field Operations Branch.

Continue reading “The Kentucky Division of Air Quality’s 2014 Annual Report”

A Field Guide to Particle Pollution

Particulate matter (PM) is one of six criteria pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act.  Last week, we told you about how the Division for Air Quality monitors for PM2.5 .  You may recall that PM2.5 is a mixture of both solid particles and liquid droplets measuring 2.5 microns or smaller in size.  Fine particulates can be emitted directly from a source, or they may form in the atmosphere when pollutants chemically combine.

Naturally, if you want to control air pollution, it helps to know which sources contribute to it.  But particle pollution is tricky.  Often, half or more of the PM2.5 mass is comprised of secondarily formed species – in other words, particles that formed through chemical reactions between other pollutants.  This makes it difficult to figure out where those pollutants came from. Continue reading “A Field Guide to Particle Pollution”

The Nitty Gritty of Fine Particle Pollution

The Division for Air Quality (DAQ) uses air monitoring data to understand how clean the air is in Kentucky.  Air monitoring is essential in demonstrating compliance with National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).  Think of a NAAQS – pronounced “nacks” – as a sort of “legal limit” for an air pollutant, established to protect human health and the environment.

The Clean Air Act establishes NAAQS for six major pollutants: lead, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, ozone, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter.  Particulate matter is further subdivided into two categories: coarse particles measuring 10 microns or less in diameter (PM10), and fine particles that measure 2.5 microns or less in diameter (PM2.5).

Last week we told you how the division monitors for PM10.  But that’s only half the picture.  PM2.5 is of special concern because it has the ability to penetrate into the deepest parts of the lungs.  Once there, these microscopic particles can cause chronic respiratory problems and lead to premature death.  PM2.5 pollution affects everyone, but children, the elderly, and those with existing health problems are most at risk.

How is PM2.5 Monitored?

DAQ environmental inspector Jennifer Brown points to a cylindrical magazine that holds sample filters inside a PM2.5 monitor in Somerset, KY.
DAQ environmental inspector Jennifer Brown points to a cylindrical magazine that holds sample filters inside a PM2.5 monitor in Somerset, KY.

PM2.5 is actually a mixture of both solid particles and liquid droplets measuring 2.5 microns or smaller in size.  Fine particulates can be emitted directly from a source, or they may form in the atmosphere when pollutants chemically combine.  Sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds are all examples of pollutants that can transform by chemical reactions.

To determine compliance with the NAAQS, the division uses manual intermittent samplers, which collect an air sample over a 24-hour run cycle, typically once every three days (although some samplers operate every sixth or twelfth day.)  These samplers operate by drawing a measured volume of air through a pre-weighed filter.  Before reaching the filter, the air passes through an impaction chamber where larger particles fall out of the air stream, while particles 2.5 microns and smaller pass on to the sample filter where they are collected.

Once the sample run is completed, filters are bagged and transported on ice to DAQ’s weigh lab in Frankfort.
Once the sample run is completed, filters are bagged and transported on ice to DAQ’s weigh lab in Frankfort.

 

After completion of the sample run, the filter is removed from the sampler and re-weighed to determine the mass of the particulates collected.

 

Once inside the climate-controlled weigh lab, PM2.5 sample filters rest in trays for a minimum of 24 hours to acclimate to environmental conditions before weighing.
Once inside the climate-controlled weigh lab, PM2.5 sample filters rest in trays for a minimum of 24 hours to acclimate to environmental conditions before weighing.

 

 

All filters are weighed gravimetrically (or by mass) both before and after sampling in the division’s particulate matter weigh lab to determine the amount of mass gained during the sample run.  Prior to weighing, the filters must first be allowed time to acclimate to the environmental conditions of the laboratory.

This filter is ready to be weighed.  Notice the unique UPC code that tags all data associated with this filter.
This filter is ready to be weighed. Notice the unique UPC code that tags all data associated with this filter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAQ environmental technologist Ashley Bedel loads the filter into the autohandler for weighing.  The actual weigh chamber can be seen in the background under the protective white draft shield.
DAQ environmental technologist Ashley Bedel loads the filter into the autohandler for weighing. The actual weigh chamber can be seen in the background under the protective white draft shield.

The weigh lab is operated by an analyst,who works with an automated weighing system called an autohandler.  Think of the autohandler as a “robot” that enables multiple filters to be assessed within a single weigh session.  Each filter is analyzed in accordance with EPA-approved methods and regulatory requirements.  The temperature and humidity within the weigh-laboratory are monitored with National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) traceable equipment to document environmental compliance.

Air Monitoring 101

Air monitoring is the key to understanding how clean the air is in a particular area.  In order to do this, each state must operate a network of monitoring stations.

Since July 1967, the Division for Air Quality (DAQ) has operated an air quality monitoring network in Kentucky. The 2014 network includes 34 monitoring stations in 26 counties; this total includes monitors operated by the Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District (LMAPCD) and the National Park Service (NPS) at Mammoth Cave.  In total, the network consists of 142 instruments including 16 meteorological stations. Continue reading “Air Monitoring 101”

Cleaner School Buses Coming to Crittenden County

Governor Beshear Announces Clean Diesel Funding

Governor Steve Beshear announced today that the Kentucky Division for Air Quality (DAQ) has awarded Crittenden County Board of Education approximately $95,000 in Kentucky clean diesel grant funding to reduce diesel emissions from its school bus fleet. The funds were available as a result of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Diesel Emission Reduction Act.

“Crittenden County continues to lead the way toward a cleaner, greener school bus fleet,” said Gov. Beshear.  “Everyone benefits when we reduce diesel emissions in our communities – especially our children.” Continue reading “Cleaner School Buses Coming to Crittenden County”