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NV conservation group supports FERC's transmission planning rule; Memorial Day weekend includes Tornadoes and record-high temperatures; A focus on the Farm Bill for Latino Advocacy Week in D.C; and Southeast Alaska is heating homes with its rainfall.

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U.S. Supreme Court allows South Carolina gerrymander that dilutes Black voters, Sen. Ted Cruz refuses to say if he'll accept 2024 election results, and Trump calls Mar-a-Lago search an attempt to have him assassinated.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

New EPA clean air rules to help strengthen air monitoring in KY

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Wednesday, March 13, 2024   

Groups working to improve air quality in Appalachia are applauding the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to strengthen ambient air quality standards.

Federal regulations set rules for the number and amount of air pollutants people can be exposed to, nationwide. The amount of fine particulate matter has been set at 12 micrograms per cubic meter as an annual average for the past decade.

Willie Dodson, central Appalachian field coordinator for Appalachian Voices, explained the new rules lower this standard from 12 to nine micrograms per cubic meter. He believes the change will save lives.

"These are communities in Eastern Kentucky that are impacted by 'fugitive' coal mine dust coming off of coal trucks and surface mines," Dodson pointed out. "In Winchester and in Covington, they're impacted by other industries."

So-called "fugitive dust," industrial soot and vehicle exhaust each contain a cocktail of chemicals but they all contribute to levels of fine particulate matter, or PM 2.5, in the air. Through the Upper South and Appalachia Citizen Air Monitoring Project, Kentucky volunteers are using fine particulate matter monitors to track levels in their communities.

Dodson emphasized Appalachian Voices will analyze the local data and produce quarterly reports for each participating community. He added local air monitoring can be used to help ensure the new regulations are being met and fill in gaps in data collection in rural regions lacking EPA air monitors.

"What we're hoping to do is raise a red flag, to compel the EPA to then place one of its air monitors in these sorts of communities," Dodson stressed.

Research shows prolonged exposure to air pollution can aggravate asthma, decrease lung function, worsen respiratory symptoms like irritation of the airways, coughing or difficulty breathing, and cause premature death.

Disclosure: Appalachian Voices contributes to our fund for reporting on Energy Policy, Environment, and Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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