Pollution monitoring

Monday, August 4, 2008

Under a federal mandate, Missouri's Department of Natural Resources has been monitoring ozone pollution around the state. It must report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by next March which counties should be designated as "nonattainment" counties, meeting they have exceeded federal pollution standards. The St. Louis metropolitan area already is listed as a nonattainment area, which includes requirements for vehicle-emissions testing and stricter rules for industries seeking pollution permits.

Ozone pollution in the area that includes Cape Girardeau, Perry, Bolinger and Ste. Genevieve counties is measured at a monitoring station at Farrar, Mo., in Perry County. In the two-year period of 2005 to 2007, the federal standards were exceeded a total of 36 days. So far in 2008, the standards have not been exceeded.

There appears to be some good news in the monitoring results. In the two full years of measurements, ozone pollution in the four counties has topped federal standards 5 percent of the time and not at all during 2008.

But the fact that the limits are exceeded at any time is of concern. In particular, state and federal officials would like to be able to pinpoint the source of the pollution in an attempt to see if it can be stopped. Because the counties in question are so rural, officials say that may be hard to do.

City and county officials have been invited to a meeting Tuesday in Perryville to discuss the monitoring and to collect information about possible sources of the pollution. A frank exchange of information could mean cleaner air for the four counties involved.

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