EPA says Iowa must address Muscatine-area air quality

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gave Iowa officials 18 months to come up with a plan to lower the levels of sulfur dioxide in the air around the city of Muscatine.

Air quality monitoring from 2009 through 2011 showed air quality in part of Muscatine County exceeded EPA limits for sulfur dioxide.  The area affected is bordered by County Road F70 on the north, the Mississippi River on the south, the city of Fairport on the east and the junction of highways 92 and 61 on the west.

Iowa is one of 16 states that have areas the EPA has declared in nonattainment for sulfur dioxide.  Areas around Pekin and Lemont in Illinois have also received similar designations.

The Muscatine County declaration was issued July 25, 2013; and the state has 18 months from that date to submit a plan for meeting the EPA’s sulfur dioxide standard within five years.  The EPA standard is 75 parts per billion measured in any one-hour time period.

When sulfur dioxide levels are higher, it can cause health problems including narrowing of the airways which can cause trouble breathing and increase asthma symptoms.  Children, the elderly and people with lung problems are most susceptible.