Managing Air Quality - Multi-Pollutant Planning and Control
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Multi-pollutant control programs can save money and time, and achieve significant health, environmental and economic benefits, while reducing costs and burdens on sources of air pollution.
Many pollution sources (e.g., industrial facilities) emit several different pollutants that directly cause health and environmental impacts or react in the environment to form other harmful pollutants. Some control technologies can reduce emissions of multiple pollutants. It can be more efficient to develop integrated control strategies that address multiple pollutants rather than separate strategies for each pollutant individually.
Air quality managers can consider multiple policy goals in developing an air pollution management plan. Policy goals that could be considered in such a program include: reducing concentrations of ozone, particulate matter, and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) such as mercury; planning to address transportation and energy needs; mitigating and adapting to climate change.
EPA and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) created a toolkit for developing historical emission inventories and estimating the health, climate and agricultural benefits of scenarios for mitigation of short-lived climate pollutants, like black carbon and methane.
The LEAP-IBC tool builds upon SEI's existing Long-range Energy Alternatives Planning (LEAP) system by adding the Integrated Benefits Calculator (IBC) - a simplified benefits estimation tool. It is intended for use by countries where data on local air quality may be incomplete.
The toolkit also includes a customized health benefit and economic valuation tool, the Environmental Benefits Mapping and Analysis Program - Community Edition (BenMAP-CE).
Many sources of air pollutants also are sources of greenhouse gases. Control strategies exist that can both reduce air pollution and the impacts of climate change.
For example, controls for organic compounds will reduce emissions of pollutants that form ground-level ozone and also emissions of methane, a pollutant that has global warming potential. Also, measures that lessen the demand for energy (e.g., using more energy efficient products) reduce associated air pollution and carbon emissions from power plants.
Black carbon is a component of fine particulate matter that has climate warming properties. Sources of emissions include diesel engines, brick kilns and burning of biomass (including burning wood for heating). Because fine particle pollution has harmful health effects, controlling emissions of black carbon from these and other sources can have positive impacts on both health and climate.
Resources at the nexus of climate change and air quality:
- Report to Congress on Black Carbon includes basic information on black carbon, its effects, and mitigation approaches
- Air quality and climate change research
- Burn Wise has information on best wood-burning practices
- Controlling air pollution from the oil and natural gas industry
- Transportation, air pollution and climate change
- Global methane initiative
- Arctic Council Expert Group on Black Carbon and Methane: Summary of progress and recommendations 2017
EPA’s Clean Air Act Advisory Committee (CAAAC) recommended that EPA allow states to integrate planning requirements and other air quality goals into a comprehensive plan. The recommended plan would demonstrate attainment and maintenance of multiple national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS), accomplish sector-based reductions, realize risk reductions of HAPs and make improvements in visibility. It could also be structured to integrate programs addressing land use, transportation, energy and climate.
EPA has encouraged states to take a multi-pollutant approach to managing air quality. North Carolina, New York and the City of St. Louis (involving both Missouri and Illinois) participated in an EPA-led pilot effort to develop multi-pollutant air quality management plans. For information about this pilot effort, type in "Air and Radiation AQMP" in the search area of EPA web archives. Search EPA Archive
EPA continues to work with interested state and local agencies on multi-pollutant risk-based analyses. More on these efforts and other examples:
- Phase II Recommendations by the Air Quality Management Subcommittee to the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee
- A multi–pollutant, risk–based approach to air quality management: Case study for Detroit
- Encouragement for states to take a multi-pollutant planning approach in implementing the 2008 ozone NAAQS is noted at page 12295 of the Federal Register, March 6, 2015 , and in implementing the fine particulate matter NAAQS on page 58135 of the Federal Register, August 24, 2016
- Multi-Pollutant, Risk-Based Air Quality Management Analysis for Upstate South Carolina (PDF) (104 pp, 3 MB, May 26, 2016)
- California Bay Area plans and climate, including a multi-pollutant air quality plan