February 13, 12014- by John Blair, valleywatch.net editor.
For several days now, Evansville air quality has suffered significantly from high levels of fine particles. Today, they reached levels considered “unhealthy” exceeding the current 24 hour federal standard of 35µg/m3 for several hours at the time this was written. See screen shot of the data from the near real time website (http://idem.tx.sutron.com/cgi-bin/daily_summary.pl) operated by IDEM below.
I have been following this development for several days, now. It seems the first time the level exceeded the 24 hour standard for a single hour was at midnight on Sunday, February 9. From a personal standpoint, that date was significant to me because that was the day that my wife came down with a respiratory problem which was diagnosed yesterday as pneumonia. Of course, no one can say with certainty that a single diagnosis was directly caused by a single air pollution event.
However, the problem here is that here we are in the fifth day of significant pollution problems and as been the case in the past, neither IDEM or the local air pollution agency has issued any sort of alert. Now, as I write this the data clearly shows unhealthy levels but still no alert has been issued at this hour (just after 11 AM).
While the closure of several coal plants in the region is currently in the works, it is clear we have a long way to go before the air in Evansville can be considered safe. Valley Watch encourages people who have noticed breathing or respiratory irritation over the last few days to contact their elected and bureaucratic officials at EVERY level to complain that you are tired of being treated as second class citizens and forced to breathe foul, unhealthy air.