Air quality is a complex issue requiring cooperation among many entities, two speakers said during a recent conference on health topics.
Montie Keller of the state Bureau of Air Quality and Constance Lundberg, from Rocky Mountain Industrial and Environmental Engineering Inc. and a representative of Geneva Steel, discussed air-quality goals during the Utah Conference on Health Care.Keller said three pollutants are of concern in Utah: fine particulates, carbon monoxide and ozone. During certain times of the year all of these pollutants exceed allowable levels in some Utah locations.
In June, the Bureau of Air Quality will submit a draft state implementation plan to the Environmental Protection Agency outlining its strategy for bringing areas of Utah that exceed the fine-particulate, or PM10, standard into compliance.
Preliminary studies by the bureau say Geneva Steel may contribute more than 60 percent of the PM10 problem in Utah County. Other contributors of fine-particulate pollution are wood-burning stoves, open burning, road dust and diesel and fuel oil.
"The bureau will conduct meetings during the next couple of months with Geneva and other agencies to agree on amounts and methods to be used in controlling PM10 standards," Keller said.
In preparation for PM10 negotiations, Geneva Steel has contracted Nuclear Environmental Analysis of Beaverton, Ore., to quantify fine-particulate emissions from the various steel mill operations. The company also plans to test the open hearth, rolling mill and coke combustion stacks this year to quantify emissions from these sources.
Keller said the bureau is conducting a carbon monoxide tracer study in Utah County to determine whether Geneva Steel and Pacific States Cast Iron Pipe Co. contribute to carbon monoxide problems in Provo. Also, traffic-flow changes are being implemented in downtown Provo in an attempt to reduce carbon monoxide problems.
Lundberg said industries face difficulties in complying with air pollution standards in that technology for some aspects of control have not been invented.
"The cinder plant emits gases that turn into dust in the atmosphere," Lundberg said. "How do you take dust out of the gas stream when it isn't dust yet?"
Lundberg also said tight schedules required by EPA for compliance are a problem. She said that once EPA identifies a pollutant as posing a national health threat, health agencies in areas where the pollutant exceeds an allowable level have nine months to draft a plan outlining how they will control the pollutant.
"Utah is one of the most advanced states in its schedule of complying," Lundberg said. "Yet, it has taken the state 14 months to draft its plan."
And, EPA's approval of implementation plans, which is supposed to take four months, has taken as long as 10 years in some cases, Lundberg said.
"The difficulty is pinpointing what is causing the pollution and figuring out how to reduce it," Lundberg said. "That is what the state has to do. Industry has to identify what pollution control system will work. We are working to identify which sources contribute the most, and which can be controlled most easily. I've got the easy job. Industry is a lot easier to control than communities."