2014 Air Quality Report

A Message from the Director

This Air Quality Report includes data for calendar year 2014. The data was generated by Illinois EPA’s monitoring network that consists of 154 monitors at 65 sites. As part of the overall monitoring program, Illinois EPA issues a daily air quality forecast for fourteen sectors in Illinois. Each sector receives a daily air quality forecast that is assigned a category with a corresponding color: Good (green), Moderate (yellow), Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (orange), Unhealthy (red), Very Unhealthy (purple), and Hazardous (maroon).

The daily air quality forecasts are developed by Agency meteorologists, who examine current air quality levels and meteorological conditions across the state. Meteorological conditions can have a significant impact on air quality. Changes in temperature, atmospheric pressure, precipitation, wind speed and wind direction are all factors used in developing the air quality forecasts. When necessary, Illinois EPA will consult with other regional states to aid in developing the forecasts. Illinois EPA encourages citizens to stay informed of the changes in air quality. The Agency offers several tools for obtaining the daily air quality. Illinois EnviroFlash ( http://illinois.enviroflash.info) provides users with a free daily email which includes the air quality forecast for the region and helpful tips. Illinois EPA also provides the daily air quality forecast on the Agency’s website and through Twitter (@ILEPA).

Illinois EPA notes that overall, air quality improved over what was experienced in 2013. For the second consecutive year, ozone levels never reached the “Unhealthy” (red) category. Ten-year air quality trends continue to show progress and improvements in Illinois’ air quality.

The Agency’s air pollution control programs aid in achieving our mission 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. While Illinois continues to see improved air quality, National Ambient Air Quality Standards are periodically reviewed and often made more stringent to offer further health protections. Air quality improvements in Illinois have met a majority of current and previous federal standards; however, some areas of the State must achieve further improvements. Illinois EPA renews its commitment to bring all areas of the state into compliance with current and newly-finalized air quality standards.

The Illinois EPA presents this report in an effort to provide accurate and current air quality data. Individuals can find more information about air quality through the Agency’s website at http://www.epa.illinois.gov/citizens/air-quality/index. For questions 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 calendar year 2014. 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 compounds, and toxic compounds. Monitoring was conducted at 65 different site locations collecting data from more than 150 instruments.

In terms of the Air Quality Index (AQI) air quality during 2014 was either good or moderate 98 percent of the time throughout Illinois. There were zero days when air quality in any part of Illinois was considered unhealthy (category red). This compares with zero unhealthy days in 2013 as well. There were seven days (five for 8-hour ozone and two for PM 2.5 ) when air quality in some part of Illinois was considered Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (category orange). This compares with 13 Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups days reported in 2013. 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 2005 – 2014 are as follows:  24-hour Particulate Matter (PM 10) 7 percent increase, annual Particulate Matter (PM 2.5) 25 percent decrease, 1-hour Sulfur Dioxide 61 percent decrease, annual Nitrogen Dioxide 27 percent decrease, 8-hour Carbon Monoxide 68 percent decrease, and 8-hour Ozone 7 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, 2014. Emission estimates are for the calendar year 2014 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 2013. There has been a trend toward decreasing emissions over this time period.