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Mississippi Named Among the Toxic 20 for Air Quality

By Daniel Cherry | Published 14 Aug 2012 07:26pm | comments
Mississippians might be breathing in more toxic air than many think, according to a recent study released by a national environmental watchdog group. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how Mississippi made this year's list of states known as the Toxic 20.
 
On the list of states with the worst air quality, Mississippi came in at 17th...with one being the worst. The study is released by the Natural Resources Defense Council. John Walke is the council's clean air director, and he says the state's toxic emissions from power plants, including mercury, hydrochloric acid, and sulfuric acid increased nearly 100 percent from 2009 to 2010.
 
"That is frankly astonishing, and not matched by any other state in the inventory that we looked at. There's clearly something going on."
 
Maya Rao is Chief of the Air Division with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. She says the problem with the list is, they only look at one year at a time.
 
"If you just take a snapshot it's really hard. What we like to do in air quality is we like to see what the trends are over many years at a time."
 
Rao points out, 2009 was abnormally low for emissions, and 2010 was about average and emissions fluctuate based on what type of fuels power plants burn. Gailen Marshal is Director of the Division of Clinical Immunology and Allergy at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He believes overall, Mississippi isn't facing an air quality crisis, but those who live near industrial, urban, or areas with heavy agriculture spraying are always at higher risk for lung problems.
 
"Now you're constantly bombarded and even healthy individuals now we know are at risk to become diseased from pulmonary lung problems because of that exposure."
 
Air quality officials point out, Mississippi meets all national air quality standards for breathable air.

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