2013 Air Quality Report

A Message from the Director

The mission of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is to safeguard environmental quality, consistent with the social and economic needs of the State, so as to protect health, welfare, property and the quality of life. One of our primary program goals to meet this mission is to provide leadership to chart a new course for clean air which is responsive to relevant needs in Illinois and complies with priority aspects of the Clean Air Act Amendments.

The 43rd Annual Air Quality Report is presented to provide data for the 2013 calendar year. Overall, Illinois air quality continues to show improving trends. Illinois air pollution control programs and regulations at both the national and state level have had a significant impact on bringing the State’s air quality to the levels we experience today. While some portions of Illinois do fall short of a few of the current National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), these areas have achieved compliance with the previous standards and are much closer to achieving compliance with the newly tightened standards than they were twenty, or even ten years ago.

Like the weather, an air quality forecast is provided for each day of the year. Daily air quality is assigned a category with a corresponding color. Those categories are Good (green), Moderate (yellow), Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (orange), Unhealthy (red), Very Unhealthy (purple), and Hazardous (maroon). The Illinois EPA provides a daily air quality forecast for fourteen sectors throughout the State. Those forecasts require the examination of current air quality levels, as well as meteorological conditions across the state. Air quality can change significantly as a result of several factors that include temperature, atmospheric pressure, precipitation, wind speed and even wind direction. Agency meteorologists review all of these factors along with modeling data to accurately provide the daily air quality forecasts. At times, representatives from multiple states within our region will consult with one another to determine forecasts.

Illinois schools and businesses have a new opportunity to be more informed of the local air quality by joining the Illinois Air Quality Flag Program (highlighted on the cover). The purpose of the program is to create public awareness of outdoor air quality conditions. This program was first launched in schools in 2013 and expanded to businesses in 2014.

The 2013 Annual Air Quality Report reflects relatively typical weather conditions compared to the extraordinary weather experienced in 2012. As explained in the executive summary, ozone levels in 2013 never reached the “Unhealthy” (red) category, compared to 11 in 2012. The number of days at the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” (orange) category had a significant drop from 40 in 2012 to just 13 in 2013. As a result, the 10-year air quality trends continue to show progress and improvements in overall air quality.

The Illinois EPA strives to provide residents with accurate and current air quality information. Individuals can view daily air quality data through the Agency’s website. For additional question and/or comments regarding this report or other air pollution control programs, please contact the Illinois EPA.

Lisa Bonnett, Director

Executive Summary

This report presents a summary of air quality data collected throughout the State of Illinois during the calendar year 2013. Data is presented for the six criteria pollutants (those for which air quality standards have been developed - particulate matter (PM 10 and PM 2.5), ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and lead) along with some heavy metals, nitrates, sulfates, volatile organic and toxic compounds. Monitoring was conducted at 73 different site locations collecting data from more than 165 instruments.

In terms of the Air Quality Index (AQI) air quality during 2013 was either good (green) or moderate (yellow) 96 percent of the time throughout Illinois. The most significant change in air quality from 2012 to 2013 was the decrease in unhealthy (red) days according to the Air Quality Index. There were zero days when air quality in some part of Illinois was considered unhealthy. This compares with 11 unhealthy days in 2012. There were 13 days (11 for 8-hour ozone and 2 for PM 2.5) when air quality in some part of Illinois was considered unhealthy for sensitive groups (orange). This compares with 40 Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups days reported in 2012. Air quality trends for the criteria pollutants are continuing to show downward or stable trends well below the level of the standards. Percentage changes over the ten year period 2004 – 2013 are as follows. 24-hour Particulate Matter (PM 10) 5 percent decrease, annual Particulate Matter (PM 2.5) 22 percent decrease, 1-hour Sulfur Dioxide 55 percent decrease, annual Nitrogen Dioxide 27 percent decrease, 8-hour Carbon Monoxide 59 percent decrease, and 8-hour Ozone 3 percent decrease.

Stationary point source emission data has again been included. The data in the report reflects information contained in the Emission Inventory System (EIS) as of December 31, 2013. Emission estimates are for the calendar year 2013 and are for the pollutants: particulate matter, volatile organic material, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide. Emission trends of these pollutants have been given for the years 1998 to the present. Emissions reported with the Annual Emissions Report have been provided starting with 1998 and are currently available through 2012. There has been a trend toward decreasing emissions over this time period.