What Will Air Quality Zealots Complain About Now?

Headline: The air quality monitor in Liberty Boro is now in compliance with EPA guidelines based on the three year average reading from 2009-2011. Particulate matter of 2.5 microns or less is measured at 15 micrograms per liter, the current standard. Thus, the Liberty monitors, which have been the only ones in Allegheny County registering levels above the three year standard and have brought down the wrath of the American Lung Association and the Heinz Endowments on the County and region as not being in compliance with EPA guidelines will have to be replaced by some other air quality villain.

The County and the Southwest Pennsylvania region have been wrongfully and scurrilously labeled as a poor air quality region because of a couple of monitors that detected particulate matter concentrations above the EPA standard. No matter that the rest of the region was in compliance and that several counties with no monitors were caught in that smear despite the absence of any evidence of their air quality being out of compliance.

One call which will certainly arise is that the guidelines need to be lowered. The current 15 microgram per liter standard will not be low enough to ensure respiratory health. Ironically, even if the guideline were cut to 12 micrograms, only Liberty would be out of compliance. And, as a result, the region would once again be labeled as having poor air quality despite the obvious massive improvements in air cleanliness. Some will not be happy until we have pre-colonial levels of particulates in the air even though we cannot be sure what they might have been. One can liken this to the cries for more forest land although forested acreage has been stable over a century.