Muscatine, Council Bluffs cited for dirty air

Photo by Mike Willis.

Oooh, that smell. Can’t you smell that smell? Last week residents in Muscatine and across the state in Council Bluffs may have caught a whiff of something because both cities were cited for exceeding EPA air pollution limits.

Muscatine had too much sulfur dioxide wafting through its air, and Council Bluffs had too much lead.

Those unconcerned with air quality may contend that the true problems in these cases are associated with more stringent regulation. Last August the EPA’s allowance of sulfur dioxide grew stricter and in October 2008 strictness for the lead standard increased tenfold.

But both forms of pollution are regulated for a reason. Short-term exposure to sulfur dioxide can increase the likelihood of contracting asthma, bronchitis, emphysema or other lung and heart disease. And it can worsen the symptoms of those who already have such conditions.Ingesting lead adversely affects with the nervous system.

Muscatine is hardly immune to air quality problems. In fact, it has violated sulfur dioxide standards more than 30 times in the past year, according to the Muscatine Journal.

Muscatine ranks in the worst ten percent of US counties in cancer risk due to air and water releases and the highest average pollution level of fine-particulate matter in the state.

As the Des Moines Register reported, and Greg Carmichael, air quality expert and co-director at CGRER confirms, fine particulate matter can cause serious health problems, including respiratory problems and death.

Muscatine is home to Grain Processing Corp. – the key to the local economy, but primary source of the air quality problems. It emits huge amounts of particulate matter and sulfur dioxide. The company says it has worked and will continue to work at reducing emissions, but the company has constantly exceeded emissions standards over the past three years. In 2006 GPC was fined $538,000 for air quality infractions.



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