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Report: Detroit had 161 "dirty air days" in 2015

Smokestacks spewing pollution
mdprovost ~ Prosper in 2011
Flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Detroit suffers from unhealthy levels of air pollution nearly half the year.

That’s according to new EPA data, and a national report from the group Environment America, including its Michigan chapter.

The report found that Detroit had 161 “dirty air days” in 2015, “increasing the risk of premature death, asthma attacks and other adverse health impacts.”

Detroit’s primary problem was soot pollution, but the city also had 60 days of “elevated smog pollution” in 2015. Preliminary data from 2016 are slightly worse.

Overall, Detroit ranked 28th nationally for soot pollution.

Environment Michigan is concerned about President Trump’s moves to roll back some federal clean pollution regulations, and cut the EPA’s budget by a proposed 31%.

State Rep. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, represents southwest Detroit and some downriver communities home to a large concentration of heavy industry. She says in Michigan, state policy doesn’t help heavily polluted areas much.

“We handle air pollution, when it comes to polluting sources, permit by permit, and we don’t actually look at things in a cumulative way,” Chang said. “Obviously, when someone’s breathing in air, they’re not just breathing in air from one source.”

The report says that in Michigan, Sault Saint Marie also experienced 50 days of “unhealthy” air in 2015, while Grand Rapids had 31.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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