The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced this week it won’t penalize communities for bad air caused by volcanoes, forest fires and dust blowing in from out of the area.
That’s good news for Spokane, which gets a healthy heaping of dust from the Columbia Basin.
States with significant episodes of blowing dust will be required to develop a “natural events action plan” which includes strategies to control the problem.
The strategies include reducing loose soil at construction sites, unpaved parking lots and agricultural land.
Spokane has been a “non-attainment” area for small particles known as PM 10.
EPA considers PM 10 a health hazard. Tiny particles of dust far smaller than the width of a human hair can go deep into the lungs, where they aggravate lung disease. They’ve been linked to death and chronic bronchitis in children and adults.
Local business leaders have long argued for the policy announced Friday.
So has the Western Governors’ Association. It urged EPA to be more flexible because of arid, dusty conditions throughout much of the West.
“It’s good news,” said Rich Hadley, president of the Spokane Area Chamber of Commerce. “It means we can address the problems without being penalized.”