WBEZ | fine particulate matter http://www.wbez.org/tags/fine-particulate-matter Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Cook County's air quality gets an 'F' from the American Lung Association http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/cook-countys-air-quality-gets-f-american-lung-association-106828 <p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/yooperann/5098058893/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chicago%20air.jpg" style="height: 458px; width: 610px;" title="(Courtesy Ann Fisher via Flickr)" /></a><br />Spring weather can be a breath of fresh air for many Chicagoans, but a foul forecast for air quality in Cook County is a reminder that high pollution and asthma rates persist in many of the nation&rsquo;s large urban areas.</p><p>The American Lung Association released its annual &ldquo;State of the Air&rdquo; report Wednesday, and while our air is cleaner than it was a decade ago, Cook County <a href="http://www.stateoftheair.org/2013/states/illinois/cook-17031.html">received Fs across the board</a>.</p><p>Compiling data from states, tribes and federal agencies, the ALA report ranked the nation&rsquo;s cities and counties according to their levels of ozone, year-round particle pollution and short-term particle pollution.</p><p>Chicago ranked 16&nbsp;in the nation for short-term particle pollution. Central and Southern Californian metros dominated the <a href="http://www.stateoftheair.org/2013/city-rankings/most-polluted-cities.html">report&rsquo;s &ldquo;Most Polluted Cities&rdquo; rankings across all three categories</a>.</p><p><a href="http://www.stateoftheair.org/2013/states/illinois/lake-17097.html">Lake County also failed</a>, but the ALA gave Bs to Kane, DuPage, McHenry and Will counties.</p><p>Four in 10 Americans (131.8 million people) live in counties that had unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution between 2009 and 2011.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/qa-kim-wasserman-little-villages-coal-crusader-106742">As the city shuts down coal plants</a> and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/does-electricity-aggregation-do-enough-renewable-energy-106760">cuts coal from its power supply</a>, future reports could give Cook County a sunnier outlook. But the region&rsquo;s high poverty rate means a minority of its residents shoulder a greater share of the burden.</p><p>&ldquo;No one should be surprised by the grade Cook Country was given, but we ought to be alarmed,&rdquo; said Matthew Siemer, program and development manager for <a href="http://mobilecarechicago.org/">the Mobile C.A.R.E. foundation</a>.</p><p>His&nbsp;group runs&nbsp;a mobile asthma clinic that treats poor and uninsured patients with respiratory problems.</p><p>&ldquo;Respiratory illnesses like asthma and COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease], which have been linked to poor air quality, affect 25 percent of low-income residents. These diseases are costly, debilitating, and can even fatal when they aren&rsquo;t regularly treated.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s not the first time the area has flunked an ALA examination. In January the organization said <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/politics/study-gives-illinois-fs-tobacco-prevention-and-support-quitting-smoking-104978">Illinois needed to invest more to reduce tobacco consumption</a>. They gave the state Fs for tobacco prevention and support for smokers trying to quit. Cook County <a href="http://chicagoist.com/2012/04/26/cook_county_air_quality_gets_an_f.php">received an F in last year&#39;s &quot;State of the Air&quot; report, too</a>.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cook-air-quality.jpg" title="The number of high-ozone days in Chicago has fallen over the years, but still exceeds safety standards. (Courtesy American Lung Association)" /></div></p> Wed, 24 Apr 2013 16:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/cook-countys-air-quality-gets-f-american-lung-association-106828 Power-plant emissions bill dead, but not for long http://www.wbez.org/story/power-plant-emissions-bill-dead-not-long-85522 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-21/hardhats.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A proposal for Chicago to regulate exhaust from coal-fired power plants may be dying. But the bill’s sponsor, Ald. Joe Moore, 49th Ward, says it will come back to life soon.</p><p>Moore’s legislation is stuck in a joint City Council committee chaired by Alds. Virginia Rugai, 19th, and James Balcer, 11th — close allies of Mayor Richard M. Daley, who opposes the bill. But Moore says he will introduce a similar version after Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel takes office next month and a new City Council convenes.</p><p>The proposal targets fine particulate matter, known as soot, that many health experts blame for respiratory diseases. It would also impose one of the nation’s first limits on emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.</p><p>California-based Edison International, which owns coal-fired generators in two mostly Latino neighborhoods of Chicago, dispatched a top Latino executive to a Chicago City Council hearing Thursday. Pedro Pizarro, president of a company arm called Edison Mission Group, warned that the regulations would force the plants offline.</p><p>“If we take on, unilaterally, costs that our competitors don’t, we can’t compete,” Pizarro told WBEZ after the hearing. “We don’t protect the jobs for employees. We don’t end up serving our customers.”</p><p>The company’s Fisk and Crawford plants, which stand in Chicago’s Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods, together employ about 185 workers. The company sells the electricity in the wholesale market.</p><p>Moore accused Pizarro of crying wolf. “Business and industry always claim we’re going to drive them out of business,” the alderman said. “And you know what? If you push them hard enough, they’ll do what they need to do. We have a cleaner environment and a stronger economy as a result.”</p><p>Spectators packed the council chambers for the hearing. Edison’s local unit, Midwest Generation, bused in about 300 employees. Many wore hard hats and blue work shirts. Outside the hearing, they chanted, “Save our jobs!”</p><p>A similar number of environmentalists and neighborhood activists attended to urge the bill’s passage. They tried to hijack the workers’ chant, changing it to, “Save our lives!”</p></p> Fri, 22 Apr 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/power-plant-emissions-bill-dead-not-long-85522