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AIR QUALITY REPORT 1-18-17 LMS

On a scale where the number one is the worst, this winter’s local air quality has scored a five which equals an “F” according to representatives from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

Rensay Owen of the department’s Air Quality Monitoring Compliance division and Ryan Rossi, Regional DEQ Air Quality Monitoring Coordinator announced the most recent statistics to the Salmon City Council at its January 18 meeting.

Owen explained the Particulate Materials readings are recorded on an hourly and daily basis. He said the American Lung Association’s 2016 State of the Air Report gave Lemhi County its air quality “F” and has ranked the county 18th worst in the nation on its grading scale. That was according to the 24 hour Particulate Matter 2.5 standard. Rossi said the most recent air quality values show readings of 100 micrograms which are in the unhealthy range. He said the highest values generally occur at midnight and/or early morning followed by elevated levels throughout the day. He said it is interesting that particulate readings on the coldest days were sometimes lower, possibly because the wood stoves were burning hotter and cleaner. He acknowledged that weather conditions can also be a factor.

Owen commented that this area is fortunate in that it has received $1,000 rebate per change-out of old wood burners from the Department of Energy’s (DOE) efforts towards providing more efficient wood burning stoves. He said that rebate sum is higher than what is offered in most communities. Owen said the DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory has been paying penalties for being out of compliance with the Clean Air Act and he doesn’t know how much longer the wood stove change-out program will last.

The city of Salmon has joined DEQ’s Advance Program Team and will be officially forming an Air Shed Advisory Group, hopefully next month. Owen said they have received a good list of volunteers from the public health sector and would like to see more recommendations plus some involvement from local officials.

The first Advisory Group’s task will be to develop a Communication Plan document outlining the intended program. The document will then be sent to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Mayor Leo Marshall thanked the DEQ representatives for the report.


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