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Issues Of The Environment: Air Quality Concerns In Washtenaw County And Southeast Michigan

Air Quality
Tony Webster

It has been a rather warm 2017 summer.  So far, there have been four Air Quality Alert, or Ozone Action Days, recorded.  These are days that pose heightened environmental and public health risks.  In this week’s “Issues of the Environment,” WEMU’s David Fair learns more about the region's air quality in a conversation with the Senior Meteorologist for the Michigan Departmentt of Environmental Quality - Air Quality Division, Jim Haywood


   ·  According to the Washtenaw Asthma Coalition, climate change is exacerbating the summer conditions that lead to poor air quality and health conditions like asthma.  Of the six outdoor air pollutants known to trigger asthma, ozone and particulate matter are most commonly linked with triggering asthma symptoms.

   ·  There were nine “Ozone Action Days" in the summer of 2016.

   ·  In 2016, the EPA revised the level of ozone that is considered acceptable for “Good” air quality, and under the new standards, all of our listening area (Washtenaw, Macomb, Oakland, Lenawee) was above the acceptable level for ozone.  In June 2017, Scott Pruitt, the Trump-appointed administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, delayed the enforcement of the standards by one year.  (Previously, October 2017 was the deadline, and now it is unclear if the new standards will stick.)

   ·  On July 1, 2017, Ann Arbor began enforcing an “anti-idling” ordinance with the stated goal of improving air quality.

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at

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