Air pollution | St. Louis Public Radio

Air pollution

A school bus.
Vipal | Flickr

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources proposes spending the $41 million it received from the Volkswagen settlement last year on replacing school buses and other heavy-duty vehicles. 

The German automaker agreed to spend billions of dollars to settle allegations of cheating emissions standards. Missouri is among the states that received some of those funds to address nitrogen dioxide emissions. Nitrogen dioxide is a component of ozone pollution, which can cause respiratory health issues, such as asthma. 

Heavy-duty vehicles are a major contributor to nitrogen dioxide emissions.

An image of the Rush Island Power Plant in an article about its use of the Powder River Basin coal.
Rush Island Energy Center, Ameren Corp.

A U.S. district court judge has ruled that Ameren Missouri violated the Clean Air Act when it made upgrades to its Rush Island Power Plant in Festus in the late 2000's. 

In 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency filed a lawsuit against Ameren, alleging that the utility illegally installed boiler equipment that raised emissions of sulfur dioxide, a toxic gas that can cause asthma and worsen respiratory conditions. On Monday, Judge Rodney Sippel ruled in favor of the EPA, and wrote that Ameren should have applied for special permits and installed pollution control equipment when plant made the upgrades.

Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

There's good ozone and there's bad ozone. The good kind sits up high up in the stratosphere, protecting us from the sun's ultraviolet rays. The bad kind is formed by burning fossil fuels and is found in the smog in Los Angeles and China. 

Bad ozone can cause health problems for children, for the elderly and people with lung diseases like asthma. It can also harm other living things, like plants. But like other greenhouse gases, it is invisible. So it's hard for scientists to show people the effects of bad ozone, which contributes to climate change, said Jack Fishman, professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at Saint Louis University. 

To get the message across, in recent years, Fishman and other researchers at SLU set up special gardens funded by NASA to demonstrate how ozone levels affect living organisms. Their work is expanding now that they've received a $91,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to exhibit such plants year-round in "ozone chambers."

Ameren's power plant in Labadie is the largest in the state.
Art Chimes

Updated 5:00 p.m., Sept. 24 with vote result - The Missouri Air Conservation Commission has voted to designate parts of Franklin and St. Charles counties as "unclassifiable" for sulfur dioxide pollution.

Thursday's vote follows a recommendation by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources earlier this week.

Flares at the Bridgeton Landfill are used to burn off smelly underground gases.
File Photo | Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

The Saint Louis County Department of Health is launching a survey to assess the health of people living near the Bridgeton Landfill.

An underground fire has been smoldering at the Bridgeton Landfill since 2010, causing odors emanating from the landfill to increase.

Air pollution from coal-fired power plants, industrial activities, and cars contributes to asthma and other health problems in the St. Louis area.
Syracuse University News Services

Cutting carbon dioxide emissions from power plants would also reduce other types of air pollution, both here in Missouri and nationally.

That's according to a recent analysis by researchers at Harvard and Syracuse Universities.

Along with carbon dioxide, coal-fired power plants emit other pollutants, like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. Those in turn can contribute to forming particle pollution, ozone, and smog.

ozone air pollution St. Louis
Missouri Department of Natural Resources

A new report by the American Lung Association finds that the St. Louis metro area still

has high levels of ozone pollution, the main ingredient in smog.

The annual State of the Air report ranked St. Louis 13th out of 217 metro areas in the country for ozone pollution. That’s worse than St. Louis performed in last year’s report, although the trend over recent decades has been gradual improvement.

Saint Louis University | Provided

It’s a stretch to think about summer now. 

But close your eyes and imagine.

The sun is shining; bees are buzzing; your arms move through warm air; you even have to mop a thin veil of perspiration from your brow. And on the news in the morning, Geri Mitchell intones the familiar admonition: “It’s a red air quality day. Sensitive groups should avoid exercising outdoors.”

Sierra Club Alleges Thousands Of Air Quality Violations At Ameren's St. Louis-Area Plants

Dec 12, 2013
Sarah Skiold-Hanlin, St. Louis Public Radio & The Beacon

Updated Thursday 10:15 p.m.

The Sierra Club says Ameren has been routinely violating air quality standards at its St. Louis-area power plants.

In a Notice of Intent to Sue delivered to Ameren on Wednesday afternoon, the Sierra Club alleges the company's Labadie, Meramec, and Rush Island plants have exceeded air pollution limits almost 10,000 times since 2008.

via NASA

A new report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council warns that smoke from wildfires poses health risks to people living far from the actual blaze.

The study used data from 2011, an especially bad year for wildfires in the US, to rank states with the greatest number of residents affected by wildfire smoke for longer than a week.

Illinois and Missouri were ranked second and fourth respectively, despite having no wildfires of their own.

SLU Students Help NASA Ozone Study Soar Over Saint Louis

Aug 19, 2013
(Art Chimes)

If you happen to be near the Saint Louis Science Center planetarium at around 2 o’clock in the afternoon, look up. You might see a weather balloon.

Students at Saint Louis University are launching them as part of a study sponsored by the U.S. space agency NASA.

The mission aims to improve our understanding of air pollution and global climate.

Missouri Department of Natural Resources

A report released today by the American Lung Association shows that air pollution in the St. Louis region has recently increased.

The annual report ranks the St. Louis area 12th worst among U.S. metropolitan regions for particulate pollution and 25th for ground-level ozone, the main component of smog.

Susannah Fuchs is the Senior Director of Environmental Health for the American Lung Association’s Plains-Gulf Region, which includes Missouri.

Bridgeton Landfill
Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

The company that owns the Bridgeton Landfill is gearing up for the next phase of an effort to control an underground fire that has been burning at the site for more than two years.

Starting on Monday, Republic Services will begin excavating sections of the landfill to remove underground concrete pipes.

Advocacy Groups Warn Of Landfill Fire Risks In Bridgeton

Mar 15, 2013
Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

A coalition of environmental and worker rights organizations held a meeting today to lobby government officials about the risks posed by an underground fire at the Bridgeton landfill.

Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio (left) and Art Chimes (right)

 

(EPA.gov website)

Updated 4 p.m.

A federal appeals court has vacated an EPA rule that would have limited the amount of power plant pollution that drifts across state lines. The impact of the ruling by the three-judge panel will be felt in Missouri.

The EPA passed the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule last summer.

Ameren's coal-fired power plant in Labadie
Véronique LaCapra / St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 6:30 p.m. to add information on mercury pollution.

A new report released today puts both Missouri and Illinois among the top 20 states with the most toxic air pollution from power plants.

The Natural Resources Defense Council report ranked Missouri 15th and Illinois 16th nationwide, based on 2010 data from the Environmental Protection Agency, the most recent data available.

Holcim U.S. Inc.

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed to extend the deadline for cement manufacturers to comply with federal air pollution standards.

The extension could impact some local companies.

The EPA proposal would extend the deadline by two years, giving cement manufacturers until September 2015 to comply with the standards.

US Senate upholds limits on power plant air pollution

Jun 20, 2012
Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:50 p.m. to add comments from Senator Roy Blunt.

The U.S. Senate has rejected a bill that would have done away with new federal limits on mercury and other toxic air pollutants from power plants.

The resolution introduced by Republican Senator James Inhofe would have eliminated the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency in December.

Missouri’s senators were divided on the issue.

Missouri Department of Natural Resources

Warming temperatures may have you wanting to spend more time outdoors. But warm weather can mean more unhealthy air.

Susannah Fuchs of the American Lung Association says our region’s sunny, hot, nearly windless summer weather creates the perfect conditions for the formation of ozone – the main component of smog.

Pages