Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Air Quality Testing

I got this email and I think it's an interesting topic to discuss.

Hello Jen,

A friend brought this article to my attention today. I'm hoping it gets plenty of coverage here. The second link is for a map showing the locatons of schools likely to have very bad outdoor air quality; there's a great big red dot right over Peoria. At the very least it would be nice to see some actual air quality testing.


The specific schools listed: Blaine-Sumner, Franklin-Edison, Garfield, Irving, Kingman, Peoria Alternative, Peoria High, Roosevelt Magnet, St. Mark's, Valeska Hinton, White, and Whittier.

What do you think about this? Should your city be testing the air quality standards-especially around your child's school? Would you be willing to pay more taxes to see this happen?

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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3 comments:

SallyN said...

No.
At least, I don't think we should be narrowing the scope to the extent of 'only' looking at air quality near schools. But instead, attention (and of course, the associated $$) should be directed at making sure any air pollutant source is operating within code/statute/law.
I heard a rumor that the emissions from Aventine down in Pekin exceeds allowable limits, but the continual fine is cheaper than the retrofitting to fix the solution.

LisaO said...

I understand what you're saying, SallyN, and I agree. But the value of focusing on the schools is that while people are free (to some extent, however limited) to move to improve their situation, children are required to be in school a certain number of hours per day. And so they may actually be legally required to be in a toxic environment, because (as the article points out) there are no standards for air quality safety in schools (though there are for workplaces).

I agree that we need to know whether companies are complying with the regulations, and I fail to see how we can know that when (as the article again points out) polluters only have to estimate their emissions rather than actually measure them. I also think we need to take a good look at whether the regulations are really protective of people's health.

I think if USA Today could afford to actually measure the pollutants in the air at dozens of places around the country as they did for this article, it's certainly reasonable for companies to be required to actually measure their emissions--or better yet, pay for a trustworthy independent third party to do so.

I would also like to point out that you can look up any school in the nation on the search widget on the map (click the link in the post). The chart with the map shows the twelve worst in Peoria, but none of the area schools is particularly good. It will also tell you what pollutants are likely to be in the air, and what the sources are. Very interesting!

Michele said...

I agree that all of this is horrible!! my children go to one of these schools. But Aventine as far as I know (or at least my husband told me, who works there) doesn't have to pay fines because they are "grandfathered" in to using Illinois coal which was banned because of it's high sulfur content. Newer built companies can not use it. I do also know that Aventine is retrofitting certain parts of their plant to reduce emissions. I am in no way saying that Aventine is emission free. I am just stating what I know.

 
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