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Entries in acid rain (2)

Wednesday
Sep242014

Michigan Utility To Reduce Emissions From Its Coal Burning Plants As Part of Federal Settlement

The Michigan utility Consumers Energy agreed to a proposed settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Justice Department to reduce emission including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter at its coal-fired plants, which were found to exceed allowable levels under the Clean Air Act.

Consumers Energy Coal Fired Power Plant near Bay City, Michigan. Photo courtesy of MLive Media Group.

The agreement will affect the company’s five Michigan coal-fired plants located in West Olive, Essexville, Muskegon, and Luna Pier. Each plant has several coal burning operating units, comprising a total of 12 units for the company as a whole.

As part of the agreement, the company said that it will shut down its seven oldest coal-fired units. These will encompass three units at the J.R. Whiting Generating Complex near Luna Pier; two at the B.C Cobb Generating Plant in Muskegon; and two at the Karn/Weadock Generating Complex near Bay City bordering Essexville.

Consumers Energy said that, “These units will comply with new interim emissions limits until their retirement in April 2016.” In the meantime the settlement agreement will require the company to continue operating existing pollution controls as well as install new pollution control technologies onto these and all of the remaining units to meet current Clean Air Act emissions standards.

The EPA says that sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide are the two predominant pollutants emitted from the power plants. The agency adds that these pollutants can be converted into fine particulate matter once in the air, which can then be “breathed in and lodged deep in the lungs, leading to a variety of health problems and even premature death.”

The EPA explains that high concentrations of sulfur dioxide can effect breathing and aggravate existing respiratory and cardiovascular disease. Those most at risk include asthmatics, individuals with bronchitis or emphysema, children, and the elderly. Sulfur dioxide is also a primary contributor to acid rain.

Nitrogen oxide is also a contributor to acid rain deteriorating water quality, as well as contributing to ground-level ozone (smog) and global warming. The EPA adds that children, people with lung problems such as asthma, and people who either work or exercise outside are also susceptible to adverse effects such as lung tissue damage.

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Monday
Apr192010

Icelandic Eruption to Have Far Reaching Health Consequences

Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano has now been erupting for nearly a month - intensifying over the last week, with no end in sight. As the ash plume continues to spread across Europe, those affected will go far beyond the airlines and travelers.

The ash plume will also affect all those that breath the air it saturates - people and animals alike, especially if it falls as acid rain. The World Health Organization says that “as long as the ash remains in the upper atmosphere, there will not likely be an increased risk of health effects, but people with chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma, emphysema, or bronchitis may be more susceptible to irritation if the ash is in the lower atmosphere in high concentrations.”

“If people are outside and notice irritation in their lungs, a runny nose, or itchy eyes, they should return indoors and limit their outdoor activities,” said Dr. Maria Neira, director of the public health and environment department at WHO.

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