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May 2004

Pollution Blown Away in Minnesota

A recent report on ozone pollution from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) listed Minnesota as one of only 19 U.S. states with every county recording an acceptable level of ozone. It is important to note that the report was issued only because the American Lung Association sued the EPA to begin implementing its own health-based air pollution standards.

Ground-level ozone is a primary component of smog, and ozone is also a known lung irritant and threat to human health. While geography and weather patterns often are key factors in areas where ozone is a problem, Minnesota has clearly taken some steps to reduce outdoor air pollution. It is the only state to develop a strong biofuels program, reducing its gasoline consumption by more than 10 percent by using ethanol fuel for public and privately owned vehicles. It has taken the first steps toward biodiesel, another promising alternative fuel, and Minnesota is the nation's third largest producer of clean wind-generated electricity.

Minnesota is also a national leader in reducing indoor air pollution. The American Lung Association Health House program, a national educational program for homeowners and construction professionals aimed at creating healthier indoor environments, began 10 years ago. A new Health House national demonstration site will soon be completed in Richfield, and another home is under construction in Rochester. New homes and developments built to the tough Health House guidelines are also underway in Colorado, Tennessee, Wisconsin and New York.

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