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Air Quality in Indiana

Air Quality in Indiana > Air Quality 101 > May 2014: Environmental Halloween? May 2014: Environmental Halloween?

April 30 arrived and we were greeted with the American Lung Association (ALA) report State of the Air - 2014. It is certainly meant to raise public awareness, but some grades are frightening. Should you believe the ALA report? This article explains why the ALA report does not represent the way that national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) work and how it overestimates the air quality readings in many counties.

Ozone

The following table shows ozone levels in Indiana for the period 2010 to 2012. Levels are shown consistent with the methods used in IDEM’s report, States’ View of the Air, (average values within a county) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) method (highest design value within a county). These are then given ratings based upon the grading system used by IDEM. Also shown is the ALA grade. It is based upon a weighting system involving how many days exceed the ozone standard. If a county has more than one monitor, the ALA sums all exceedance days to arrive at its rating. The standard is to be met monitor by monitor, so this is not at all in line with how the NAAQS are to be applied.

Ozone Levels in Indiana - 2010 to 2012
County 2012 Population Design Values Rating
IDEM U.S. EPA IDEM U.S. EPA ALA
Allen 360,412 0.070 0.071 C C D
Boone 92,944 0.074 0.074 C C F
Carroll 20,095 0.071 0.071 C C C
Clark 111,951 0.081 0.081 D D F
Delaware 117,364 0.070 0.070 C C C
Elkhart 99,619 0.070 0.070 C C C
Floyd 75,283 0.079 0.079 D D F
Greene 32,940 0.078 0.078 D D F
Hamilton 289,495 0.073 0.073 C C C
Hancock 70,933 0.067 0.067 B B A
Hendricks 150,434 0.068 0.068 C C C
Huntington 36,987 0.066 0.066 B B B
Jackson 43,083 0.067 0.067 B B B
Johnson 143,191 0.070 0.070 C C B
Lake 493,618 0.071 0.073 C C F
La Porte 111,246 0.077 0.083 D F F
Madison 130,348 0.070 0.070 C C B
Marion 917,077 0.072 0.074 C C F
Morgan 69,356 0.069 0.069 C C B
Perry 19,462 0.075 0.075 C C F
Porter 165,682 0.067 0.072 B C F
Posey 25,599 0.071 0.071 C C C
St. Joseph 266,344 0.068 0.071 C C F
Shelby 44,471 0.075 0.075 C C F
Vanderburgh 180,858 0.073 0.073 C C C
Vigo 108,428 0.067 0.068 B C C
Warrick 60,463 0.073 0.074 C C F
24-Hour PM-2.5

The following table shows similar data for the daily PM-2.5 (fine particle) standard for the time period 2010 to 2012. Once again the ALA has developed its own grading system, which is not consistent with the NAAQS.

Daily PM-2.5 (Fine Particle) Standard in Indiana - 2010 to 2012
County 2012 Population Design Values Rating
IDEM U.S. EPA IDEM U.S. EPA ALA
Allen 360,412 26 26 A A D
Clark 111,951 25 27 A A B
Delaware 117,364 27 27 A A B
Dubois 42,071 26 26 A A B
Elkhart 199,619 31 31 B B C
Floyd 175,273 25 25 A A D
Henry 49,345 25 25 A A B
Lake 493,518 29 30 B B F
La Porte 111,246 26 26 A A A
Madison 130,348 25 25 A A B
Marion 918M977 28 30 B B F
Monroe 141,019 23 23 A A A
Porter 165,682 26 26 B B D
St. Joseph 266,344 29 29 B B F
Spencer 20,837 26 26 A A A
Tippecanoe 177,513 25 25 A A C
Vanderburgh 180,358 27 27 A A B
Vigo 108,428 27 27 A A C
Whitley 33,342 27 27 A A B
Annual PM-2.5

The following table shows annual PM-2.5 levels for Indiana for the time period 2010 to 2012. The ALA has applied the wrong standard to the data. The annual PM-2.5 standard of 12.0 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3) was not effective until March 18, 2013. Therefore it would not apply to data for the period 2010 to 2012. The correct standard is 15.0 ug/m3. This explains why the ALA has so many counties failing this standard.

Annual PM2.5 (Fine Particle) Levels in Indiana - 2010 to 2012
County 2012 Population Design Values Rating
IDEM U.S. EPA ALA IDEM U.S. EPA ALA
Allen 360,412 10.7 10.7 10.7 A A Pass
Clark 111,951 11.0 11.0 13.2 A A Fail
Delaware 117,364 11.3 11.3 11.3 A A Pass
Dubois 42,071 12.4 12.4 12.4 B B Fail
Elkhart 199,619 11.2 11.2 11.2 A A Pass
Floyd 175,273 11.8 11.8 11.8 B B Pass
Henry 49,345 10.5 10.5 10.5 A A Pass
Lake 493,518 11.6 12.2 12.2 A B Fail
La Porte 111,246 10.1 10.1 10.1 A A Pass
Madison 130,348 10.7 10.7 NA A A N/A
Marion 918M977 12.4 12.7 12.7 B B Fail
Monroe 141,019 10.4 10.4 10.4 A A Pass
Porter 165,682 10.7 10.7 10.7 A B Pass
St. Joseph 266,344 10.6 10.6 10.6 A A Pass
Spencer 20,837 12.0 12.0 12.0 B B Pass
Tippecanoe 177,513 10.7 10.7 10.6 A A Pass
Vanderburgh 180,358 12.0 12.2 12.2 B B Fail
Vigo 108,428 11.9 11.9 11.9 B B Pass
Whitley 33,342 10.1 10.1 NA A A N/A

It is important to explain what the individual ratings actually mean. The IDEM values are the best estimate of how many people are exposed to certain levels of pollution. This is because the average value is used. The EPA approach is used to determine which counties are considered nonattainment. EPA uses the highest design value within a county. This does not mean that every person in a county is exposed to that level. The ALA values do not relate to the NAAQS. ALA overestimates the number of people that are exposed to levels that exceed the standard.

Comments can be sent to me at kbaugues@idem.in.gov.