Wisconsin air pollution levels lowest in 30 years

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - A new report from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the state as a whole has its lowest particle pollution in 30 years.

“There have been a lot of reductions across the country in what we've observed in fine particulates and ozone,” UW Eau Claire assistant professor of chemistry Patricia Cleary said.

She said better air quality can reduce the number of heart attacks, cancer and other diseases.

“If the particulates are really solid, then they're making little cuts in your lungs. You're just breathing something in that's going to be like sandpaper for your lungs,” Cleary said.

“The fact that there are less fine particulates going deep into people's means less people are dying.” “Some of this, it may relate to a loss of manufacturing. The more manufacturing we have, the more possibility we have for extra emissions and so some of that is a loss of manufacturing capabilities so that's an interesting side note to better air quality.”

Cleary said people can improve air quality by using low volatile organic compound paints with fewer solvents, not topping off gas tanks at the pump and not using a fireplace.

The DNR said efforts from the transportation industry have also had a positive effect.

“There's the companies manufacturing the vehicles they're you know, striving to get better fuel economy out of it...Better fuel economy less pollutants in the air,” Tom Behling, the service manager with Mid-State International Trucks said.

Regulation changes in trucking like using ultra low sulfur diesel fuel and changing exhaust systems have brought on worthwhile challenges, he said.

“It's an expensive route to be on and it's costing a lot of money to get there but in the long run it will be worth it.”

Cleary said another concern for air quality in the area is sand mining, but that she hasn't seen any definite proof of its effects on people.

Eau Claire utilities administrator Jeff Pippenger said water quality in the city has greatly improved compared to what it was in the 1970s.

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