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Re: E-M:/ More on PM in Michigan

Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <ajs@sagady.com>

At 02:02 PM 7/10/2002 -0400, you wrote:
>Enviro-Mich message from Barbara Jean Madsen <bjmadsen@umich.edu>
>         For those of us who are not as conversant as perhaps we should be
>with air-quality standards and regulations, could you translate this into
>plain English and explain why it's such a "sentinel event?"  Thanks!
>         --Barb Madsen

Most air pollution regulators used to measure emissions, test the ambient air
and conduct air  pollution regulatory programs for "total suspended particulate
matter."   Originally, primary, health-related standards and secondary welfare
related standards were written for total suspended particulate matter.

This notice in the federal register is now deleting all mention of total 
particulate matter in Michigan's State Implementation Plan under the
Clean Air Act.

To appreciate that this is a sentinel event requires a discussion of some
of the history of air pollution in Michigan.....and I'll also add some personal
history as well.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s when I was growing up, I can remember the
entire sky being pink with iron oxide air pollution all around Dearborn
and downriver Wayne County around Zug Island, all pushed into Windsor
by prevailing winds.   Around this time, many areas of Michigan exceeded 
recommended health-related standards for particulate matter by a factor of 
up to 2-3 times for short term (24 hour) standards and violations of annual 
particulate health standards were common.

I can remember trips on the way up north on US-10 with my family when my 
father would announce that it was time to roll up all of the windows on the 
car because we were going to be driving by Dow Chemical in 
Midland----literally about 3-4 miles of air pollution/toxic hellatiousness 
during the 1950s....I still can picture in my mind what that was like when 
I observed it as a 7 year old child.

Our family also used to go on outings in the summer to Point Pelee in 
Canada and it was apparent that many of the freightors didn't control their 
emissions with the long plumes of black smoke on the horizon line.

As a young child, I would often visit my grandmother's home on South and
Green Avenues in the Delray section of Detroit, about 2-3 blocks from 
Solvay Chemical (later Detroit Coke).    My grandmother had respiratory 
disease and had to
stay inside all of the time because of the air pollution.

My father, who was a mechanical engineer at GM, also played string base and 
Hungarian cymbolom in 5 different ethnic musical bands in the 50s and the 60s.
I was often drafted to be the "trogea" (? spelling).....Hungarian for the
assisting cymbolom hauler.    On these jaunts I would visit the homes of
some of the gypsy musicians in the Delray district near East Jefferson that 
co-musicians with my father in these ethnic musical bands.   I can remember
all of the black pollution plumes from zug island and the nausiating odors
that made you want to throw up right out there on Jefferson avenue and I
always wondered as a teenager how people could ever live under these conditions
of extraordinarily heavy air pollution.   My parents, as second generation 
Americans, grew up in Delray, but they got out after they married.

By the time I got professionally involved in this stuff in 1973, as I 
recall reports of
ambient air quality monitoring for particulate matter showed very serious
health-related air quality standard violations in Detroit, Dearborn, New 
Midland, Muskegon, Lansing, Albion, Alpena, Bay City, Saginaw, Benton Harbor,
Marquette-area, Sault St. Marie, Ludington, Flint, Port Huron-area and others.

Many of the power plants operated by Consumers Power and Detroit Edison didn't
have adequate air pollution control for particulate matter.  Serious 
pollution problems existed in basic metals and foundry industries.   Up in
Negaunee, they had problems with the curtains turning pink from iron oxide air
pollution from taconite plants.    In Dearborn and on Zug Island, coke oven 
emissions released large clouds of particles that looked like explosions 
going off.
Serious particulate air pollution problems from municipal waste and sewage 
incinerators were common.   In Alpena, National Cement coated the entire 
town of
Alpena in cement dust because no modern air pollution controls were in place.

With the advent of the Clean Air Act of 1970 and the 1977 amendments, 
nearly all
of these serious particulate problems were corrected by enforcement orders 
and installation of modern pollution controls.   Industry would have never 
done the
right thing in cleaning up all of these problems unless they were forced to.

Perhaps the only remaining indication of such severe PM problems has been
heavy particulate air pollution blowing off of the White Pine mine tailings
basins near Ontanagon (9 square miles....visible from outer space), 
observed in recent years with heavy impacts on the local community at the 
town of White Pine (don't know what's been happening there in  the last 

So you see, from both a personal and professional perspective, I look at 
official environmental agencies ceasing concern about total suspended 
particulate matter enough to even take words out of Michigan's air 
pollution control plans
as a  "sentinel event".....

I would invite other senior environmentalists and baby boomers to
describe environmental conditions in Michigan in the 50s and 60s
as part of the continuing education of all of the young enviros on the 
.....especially to ensure that they don't listen to the siren song of 
Engler/Posthumus/Harding/Nash and all of the industry types seeking 
"voluntary controls" and "flexibility" and that they "keep the faith" on 
defense of
environmental law and regulation....

Alex J. Sagady & Associates  http://my.voyager.net/~ajs/sagady.pdf

Environmental Enforcement, Technical Review, Public Policy and
Communications on Air, Water and Waste/Community Environmental Protection

PO Box 39,  East Lansing, MI  48826-0039
(517) 332-6971; (517) 332-8987 (fax); ajs@sagady.com

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