TDEC Pulls the Plug - Air Monitors

By Pat Hunter

"The ambient air is the air surrounding us. Ambient air quality standards determine the level of air quality in which we will live, and should be used as tools in achieving cleaner air, not as a permit to unnecessarily degrade air quality. Polluted air can be a menace to all forms of life and, therefore, the disposal of wastes into the atmosphere must be controlled.  Ambient air quality standards are further intended to promote the maximum use of property. When the problems involved are aesthetic in nature, an equitable economic balance must be achieved. When a health hazard is involved, there can be no compromise." SOURCE: TDEC “Tennessee Air Quality Act”


Air Monitor Jimmie Pope - Webb Dr., (l)        Air Monitor Ft. Loudon Middle-Loudon Elem. School (r)

Pictures by Pat Hunter

Loudon County does not meet federal Clean Air Act standards for ozone and particulates. Its not only the cars and diesel trucks and power plants; at least two industries have been issued Notice of Violations (NOV) by TDEC over the years for emission and particulate issues.

At Thursday's Loudon County Board of Education meeting, school board member Van Shaver made a motion to send letters requesting that the air monitors stay in Loudon County and that TDEC resume collecting data samples of emissions. The motion was seconded by school board member Lisa Russell. The school board voted unanimously to send the letters. Loudon County Commission voted to send a letter on Nov. 2.

At the previous BOE workshop meeting, I made a request that the school board please consider sending a letter to Governor Bredesen, Tennessee Air Pollution Control Board and Lisa Jackson, EPA administrator about the ambient air monitors, which TDEC proposed removing by the end of the year. Last Thursday, I learned that TDEC ceased collecting data samples of emissions. This is very troublesome given that TDEC did not inform the community before taking this action!

One of the air monitors is located at the Ft. Loudon Middle School and Loudon Elementary School campus. The two schools house nearly 1,000 people, which include students Pre-K to eighth grades, teachers, assistants, cafeteria workers, administrative and secretaries. I would like to thank Van Shaver and Lisa Russell and school board for taking quick action.   



TDEC cuts monitoring air in Loudon

Some residents upset; source of detected chemical unknow

Hugh G. Willett,

Posted November 14, 2009 at midnight

Some Loudon County residents are not pleased to learn that the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has recently ceased collecting certain data from air monitors in the county.

"I am very concerned that they would do this without notifying the community," said Loudon County resident and air quality activist Pat Hunter.

At a school board meeting Thursday night, Hunter asked the board to write a letter to the governor, TDEC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to request that monitoring continue. The Loudon County Commission also recently asked TDEC to continue the monitoring.

Loudon Air Quality Task Force chair Mike Crosby, in an e-mail dated Nov. 12, said he was disappointed to learn that TDEC ceased the data-collection effort in October. He could not be reached for comment Friday.

TDEC has in the past few years collected a wealth of data from the Loudon County monitors and produced a report on the air quality, according to Jackie Waynick, manager of technical services with TDEC. Only the air toxin monitoring will be discontinued, he said.

The news that toxin data will not be collected from the two monitors comes after a recent TDEC study on Loudon air quality found much higher than average levels of acrolein in the air. Crosby told the task force last month that levels of acrolein in the local atmosphere are about 40 times normal and reaching levels that the EPA considers harmful for long-term exposure.

Acrolein is a potentially deadly chemical created by burning different substances including wood, paper and gasoline, Crosby said. The EPA has identified high levels of acrolein as a problem nationwide.

Waynick said he is aware of the acrolein problem in Loudon County. Acrolein is a problem across the country, he said. The effort to solve the acrolein problem will continue even though the monitoring of data has ceased, he said.

One of the monitors is located at the Fort Loudon Middle School; the other is housed in a small white trailer located on the property of Loudon resident Jimmie Pope, a board member of the Breathing Clean Air Action Team."They need to continue to monitor the data until they find where the acrolein is coming from," Pope said.

Hugh Willett is a freelance contributor to the News Sentinel.