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DNR report: Wisconsin air quality improving

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The DNR's 2020 Air Quality Trends Report confirms decreasing concentrations of most pollutants across the state. / Photo Credit: Wisconsin DNR

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A new report from state environmental officials finds that Wisconsin’s air quality is improving and most people live in areas meeting all federal air quality standards.

The Department of Natural Resources released a report Friday that analyzes 15 years of air pollution data through 2019.

The report concludes that concentrations of most pollutants have decreased in the state and right now 95% of the population lives in areas meeting all federal air quality standards.

The Lake Michigan shoreline, which has been historically impacted by elevated ozone concentrations, have decreased 25% from 2001-2003 to 2017-2019 monitoring periods. This decrease in concentrations has put most lakeshore areas within federal ozone standards, including parts of Door and Sheboygan counties.

“State and federal air pollution control programs, as well as voluntary actions taken by companies and citizens, are responsible for the improvements in air quality in Wisconsin,” said DNR air program director Gail Good. “The Air Management Program will continue to work with our partners to study and resolve remaining air quality concerns.”

“And what these pollutants are uh ground level ozone, particle pollution, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, these are all called criteria pollutants and these are the ones that are regulated by the EPA,” said Craig, Czarnecki in an interview with News 9.

The report also includes an update on emission data, and shows a substantial decrease in air pollutant emissions from 2002-2017. The DNR highlights:

  • A 63% drop in emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and a 58% drop in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), the compounds that form ground-level ozone;
  • An 89% drop in sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions; and
  • A nearly 60% reduction in carbon monoxide emissions.

Click here to view the full report.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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