Air is one of our most forgotten resources. While we can see the effects of deforestation or polluted rivers, we cannot tell when our air is being degraded until it becomes a potential health risk. Most of us can smell polluted air in high levels, but some chemicals have no odor or are undetectable once they have dissipated into the air. We may not realize it, but the air we breathe everyday can be impaired. Sources of air pollution are numerous - car traffic, coal-fired power plants, incinerators, large factory farms, outdoor wood boilers, industry. Air quality advisories are common across Wisconsin and air quality violations occur in our state every year.
There are federal Clean Air Act and corresponding state regulations for the six most common pollutants: ground level ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, and lead. Other chemicals are regulated through state permits. Short term exposure to these and other air-borne chemicals can cause mild headaches and irritation. Long term exposures, or exposure to high levels of the chemicals, can lead to an increased risk of cancer, aggravated asthma, and neurological problems.
Wisconsin’s air pollution control regulations begin with the minimum requirements established by the Clean Air Act. Some stricter regulations have been established, such as the Wisconsin Fugitive Dust law. Other laws include nondegredation regulations, where new facilities cannot lower existing air quality standards. To some extent, local governments are allowed to adopt their own ordinances to regulate pollution sources not covered by the state, like the regulation of outdoor wood boilers.
Air pollution is difficult to monitor, difficult to regulate and difficult to enforce. Midwest Environmental Advocates works to uphold state and federal air quality standards, but also uses the law in strategic ways to keep polluters from dirtying our air.
More Clean Air News from MEA
January 25, 2017 PM2.5 Clean Air Act Compliance Petition to EPA (Wisconsin Proppants, LLC) - On behalf of the Ho-Chunk Nation and the Sierra Club – John Muir Chapter, Midwest Environmental Advocates filed a petition with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requesting formal objection by the federal agency to an air pollution permit approved by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for Superior Silica Sands' expanding frac sand mining operations. Read more on our action page.
October 25, 2016 PM2.5 Clean Air Act Compliance Petition to EPA (Superior Silica Sands) - On behalf of the Ho-Chunk Nation and the Sierra Club – John Muir Chapter, Midwest Environmental Advocates filed a petition with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requesting formal objection by the federal agency to an air pollution permit approved by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for Superior Silica Sands' expanding frac sand mining operations. Read more on our action page.
Resources Related to this Issue
CAFO Toolkit: Protecting Your Community From Existing and Proposed Concentrated Animal Feeding Opera
When an industrial animal farm proposes to locate or expand in your community, know the basics of water and air regulations and your property rights. This toolkit covers how to stay informed and participate in CAFO permitting processes.
This is a basic, easy-to-follow guide on how to organize your neighbors to take action regarding a problem in your community.