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National Air Quality Improving, EPA Says




Indoor air quality can be adversely affected by outdoor air quality, if intake air is not or cannot be sufficiently filtered to remove airborne pollutants. A recent report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows that the burden of cleaning incoming air might be easing slightly, as national green house gas emissions have declined by 10 percent since 2010.

The EPA's Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program collects data on the carbon pollution emissions from over 8,000 facilities in the most polluting industries, including power plants, oil and gas production and refining, iron and steel mills, and landfills. The program also tracks the usage of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

Since reporting began two years ago, EPA is reporting a 10 percent drop in emissions from power plants as these have begun to switch from coal to natural gas. A slight decrease in electricity production also contributed to lower emissions, EPA says.

The total direct emissions reported in 2012 totaled 3.14 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent from 7,809 facilities, which equals half the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions total. Facilities reported direct emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases.

The five areas in the country with the highest concentration of air polluting industries are Houston-Galveston and Ft. Worth-Dallas in Texas, Long Beach-Bakersfield in California, Baton Rouge-New Orleans in Louisiana, and New York City, according to an article in Grist reporting on the EPA's findings.

Greenhouse gases have been found to contribute to climate change and worsen ground level ozone, which leads to respiratory and cardiovascular health problems.

Find the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program data at http://www.epa.gov/ghgreporting/ghgdata/index.html

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