QUALITY CONTROL: Two pollutants make up the bulk of the air quality monitoring oversight by the NC Department of Environmental Quality: ozone and fine particulates (PM2.5). From Bryson City to Lenoir, there are 11 ozone monitoring sites and five sites for PM2.5. The WNC Air Quality Agency conducts monitoring operations in Buncombe County, which also includes an urban air toxics monitor at A-B Tech. New this year is a sulfur dioxide monitor near the Duke Energy Progress plant in Skyland. Image from  Google, mapped by NCDEQ

Air apparent: monitoring air quality in the mountains

We all have to breathe to live, and the good news is that here in Western North Carolina, the quality of the air we all share is much better than it was just a few years ago. Across North Carolina, government employees are monitoring air quality and the associated health risks to make sure they stay within specified legal parameters. Meanwhile, citizen volunteers are also collecting data and working to make more information available to the public.

View across lake of Duke Energy's Lake Julian plant

UPDATE: Asheville City Council asks local agency to toughen SO2 standard on Duke Energy plant

At tonight’s meeting, April 28, Asheville City Council members may agree to ask the local air agency to “strengthen” proposed limits on sulphur dioxide emissions at Duke Energy’s local power plant. The move comes ahead of a Wednesday, April 29, public hearing that the Western North Carolina Regional Air Quality Agency will hold to consider renewing the air permit for the Duke Energy plant.

View across lake of Duke Energy's Lake Julian plant

New study cites increased sulphur dioxide emissions at Duke’s Asheville plant

Beyond Coal and the Sierra Club released a study today, Feb. 19, indicating that Duke Energy’s Asheville plant may be exceeding federally regulated levels of sulphur dioxide, a toxin that aggravates asthma and causes other health problems. “Somewhere in the Asheville area, that [federal] standard is being exceeded about once every three to four days,” said Howard Gebhart of Air […]

(photo by Cindy Kunst)

Asheville press conference­: Power-plant carbon rules will promote better health

Clean Air Carolina and its MAHA initiative (Medical Advocates for Healthy Air) held an Asheville press conference Wednesday. Sept. 17, to  highlight President Obama’s latest proposal to limit carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants — and the positive health impacts of the plan. Power plants are responsible for 52 percent of North Carolina’s carbon pollution. “Climate change […]

Downwind

Sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, mercury, ozone, acid deposition, ammonium nitrates, and an alphabet soup of acronyms. At times, the trial that began July 14 in U.S. District Court in Asheville sounded more like an environmental-chemistry class than a court session. After a two-year delay, the titanic lawsuit filed by the state of North […]