Air Mail Newsletter for May 2018

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In this issue


Beta meteorology air modeling tool goes live

Screen shot of meteorological site selection tool

The MPCA recently released a new meteorological site selection tool (MSST) to help facilities undergoing regulatory air dispersion modeling select representative weather data. This online tool requires no GIS experience, and in five minutes or less produces information on meteorological sites that could otherwise take facilities days of work and an expensive ArcGIS license to produce.  The tool considers proximity, terrain, and surface characteristics such as surface roughness, snow cover climatology, and urban/rural considerations to select representative weather data for a given facility. The technical support document posted with the tool describes how it considers each parameter in selecting a meteorological site, as well as additional data regarding wind patterns across Minnesota. The tool also includes a user’s guide that shows how to run it, and the various options to retrieve information from the online interface. Even though the tool objectively selects a meteorological site, it also provides information on other considered sites that can be used to support alternate selections. Try the MSST on the MPCA’s meteorological data webpage.  We encourage users to provide feedback to the air modeling inbox at


Nearby Source Tool updated for modelers

The GIS Nearby Source Tool, which helps select potential nearby sources to include in air modeling demonstrations, has been updated. The tool now offers emission inventories from 2014-2016 so facilities have the latest information on actual emissions in their area. The tool, supporting files, and instructions can be downloaded from the MPCA’s dispersion modeling tools webpage.


Air permit online submission service updates

As of May 1, 2018, all applications for individual air permit administrative amendments must be completed through the MPCA’s online service (e-Service). MPCA no longer accepts paper applications for administrative amendments.  This spring, the MPCA plans to launch a new e-Service that will allow facilities to submit applications for individual air permit reissuance online.

Online submission makes permitting reviews faster by streamlining processes and decreasing data entry by populating forms with permitting data, thereby reducing the time required to issue air quality permits.

Getting started
First-time users of air quality e-Services should go to the MPCA’s Air permit forms and online submittals webpage for help getting started. The forms page has links to all available air e-Services, instructions on setting up an account and getting facility access, and a list of information needed for each page in the e-Service. Additional information will be added for the new service prior to its launch. Once in the e-Service, users will have access to help files for every page and field. If the help pages do not have the information you need, contact the MPCA at

An e-Services account can be created before the new e-Service goes live. Existing users can use the same account they already created for individual air administrative amendment applications to submit individual permit reissuance applications.


Mercury Reduction Plan submittal form - proposed changes

The MPCA is proposing to make changes to the Mercury Reduction Plan submittal form that is used by facilities to submit their reduction plans. The purpose of the proposed changes is to clarify information needed to support an alternative plan based on the requirements of the Mercury Emission Reduction Plan Rule (Minn. R. 7007.0502, subp. 5(A)(2)). This content is currently addressed by the existing form in section 5.

The MPCA involved the Mercury TMDL Implementation Oversight Group and interested stakeholders as part of making these changes. Based on the input we received, we created a version of the form specific to the ferrous mining and processing sector, in addition to the generic form. This version of the form makes the information requested in the plan submittal consistent with statements made in the mercury reduction rule record related to the Mercury TMDL Implementation Plan.

The MPCA is requesting additional input on the proposed revisions from the Mercury TMDL Implementation Oversight Group and interested stakeholders by May 16, 2018. Please contact Hassan Bouchareb ( for further information and to receive a copy of the proposed revisions to the Mercury Reduction Plan submittal form. The existing form can be found on the MPCA’s website.


New and improved air quality and health webpages

Be air aware. Know what you’re breathing.  Have you wondered about how air quality affects your health? Find answers on MPCA’s new Air quality and health webpage, developed with input from the Minnesota Department of Health. This suite of information is part of MPCA’s continued work to share the latest information about air quality and health with Minnesotans:

  • Does your child have asthma? Today’s Air Quality Index may change his or her recommended outdoor activity level. Check out the outdoor activity guidance for schools.
  • Did you know your health can be impacted by air pollution even on “good” air days? Indoor air pollutants can cause health effects, as well as your proximity to outdoor air pollution sources, such as wood smoke and vehicle exhaust from major roadways.
  • Are you interested in learning more and sharing information with your family and friends? Check out the air quality and health video, Air quality and you: health effects of air pollution.
  • Interested in taking action? Go to what you can do about air pollution.
Graphic from new website showing health impacts of air quality

MPCA’s 2018 Pollution Report to the Legislature

2018 Pollution Report to the Legislature cover image

Every two years, the MPCA estimates and reports to the Legislature on the volume of pollution emitted or discharged to the state’s air and water resources.  The report details statewide emissions of air pollutants, including criteria pollutants, greenhouse gases, and air toxics. It also provides estimates of surface-water discharges from point sources and describes statewide efforts to reduce neighborhood sources of pollution and monitor and address contaminants of emerging concern.

Air pollution trends:

  • Generally, emissions of all major air pollutants are decreasing. Areas of the state where there may be localized or concentrated emissions from several sources remain a priority.
  • Permitted sources such as power plants and large factories contribute less than 25% of statewide emissions due in large part to government regulation, improved pollution control technology, and switching to cleaner fuels.
  • Most air pollution comes from smaller, widespread sources, including vehicles, small businesses, and construction equipment.

To further explore emissions in your area, you can use the new interactive air emissions maps on the MPCA’s website.

For more information about the report visit the MPCA website.  Contact Azra Kovacevic (air) or Pat Engelking (water) with any comments or questions.

Air Quality Index current conditions map: Now easy to add to your organization’s website

Air Quality Index on City of Warren website

Interested in air quality? Consider promoting Minnesota’s air quality, or at least a live picture of it!  Now available for your use: A current conditions I-Frame. No coding experience required. Just copy and paste the code right into your website’s code where you would like the map.  See the City of Warren and MN Department of Health who are currently using it on their websites. Visit the MPCA’s AQI embed webpage to access the code.

Air quality compared to standards: 2017 results now available

The MPCA’s Criteria Pollutant Data Explorer now includes annual summary values for air-monitoring results collected through 2017. This interactive web tool allows users to map, chart, and download annual data on monitored criteria pollutant concentrations and compare results to state and federal air quality standards. To explore the results visit the MPCA’s website.

Criteria pollutants are those for which the Clean Air Act requires EPA to set national air quality standards.  They include ground-level ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. 

The 2017 results show continued improvement in air quality across Minnesota. Fine-particle (PM2.5) levels continue to fall dramatically, with improvements from 25 to 45 percent (depending on particle size) in the annual and daily design values since 2010. All areas of the state meet federal air quality standards. The MPCA continues to investigate violations of the state total suspended particulate standards in industrial areas of North Minneapolis and Duluth. Find more information regarding the North Minneapolis violations on the North Minneapolis Air Monitoring Project website. Please contact Cassie McMahon with any questions ( or 218-302-6600).

Statewide maximum ozone and fine particle levels compared to air quality standards

Last chance to get 25-50% off water-based parts washers!

Degreasing solution

The MPCA, in partnership with Safety-Kleen, is offering a 25-50% discount to small businesses purchasing products to switch from solvent-based to water-based parts washers.  Small businesses in Minnesota are defined as having 100 or less employees.

Solvents emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are air pollutants that contribute to the formation of smog.  Switching to water-based parts washers reduces emissions of these harmful pollutants, which improves air quality for employees and the community.

To participate, contact your local Safety-Kleen location or contact Eric David at the MPCA ( or 651-757-2218). Visit the MPCA's website for more information.

This pilot project is also being supported by the city of Minneapolis, which will provide an additional 20% to small businesses in Minneapolis converting to water-based parts washers.

Apply now for your grant to reduce air pollution!

Autobody shop paint booth

MPCA grants are currently available for cost-effective projects to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in a wide range of organizations throughout Minnesota. Many opportunities exist to switch out solvents, inks, coatings, cleaners, or purchase alternative process equipment or vehicles that both save money and protect employee and community health.

The first round of grant applications is due soon -- May 18! However, if you are not ready to apply yet you have another chance. The second round of applications is due July 20. The application is easy -- only 2 pages!  For more information, visit our VOC grants webpage.

Eligible applicants: Businesses with under 500 employees (e.g., manufacturers, printers, industrial finishers, automotive, metal casting, etc.), governmental agencies, educational institutions, non-profits, trade groups, and associations.

Maximum grant award: $24,000 with a 50% required match. The most cost-effective projects will score highest. Special consideration will be given for innovative projects from targeted applicants in environmental justice and highly urbanized areas.

VOCs are common air pollutants emitted from everyday chemicals.  They contribute to smog formation and can cause unpleasant health effects like eye and throat irritation, headaches, and nausea. These effects can be particularly noticeable in highly urbanized or environmental justice communities.

Refer to the request for proposals for full details on who may apply for funding, the funding priorities for the 2018 and 2019 grant rounds, match requirements, activities eligible for funding, and other information that will help applicants submit an application.

Draft Air Monitoring Network Plan available for comment

Draft Air Monitoring Network Plan cover image

The draft 2019 Air Monitoring Network Plan for Minnesota is available for public review and comment through June 1, 2018. The plan and instructions for submitting comments are available on the MPCA’s website.

The purpose of this annual report is to demonstrate compliance with air monitoring network regulations, provide an overview of the various air quality monitoring networks operating in Minnesota, describe proposed changes for the upcoming year, and share specific information on each of Minnesota's existing and proposed air quality monitoring sites. For each of the monitoring locations, the network plan provides details on the location, monitoring objectives, and proposed changes. The report also provides data for several pollutants to show current conditions compared to state and federal air quality standards.  For more information, or to request hard copies of the plan or commenting instructions, please contact Christine Steinwand (651-757-2327 or

Wayzata dry cleaner makes the switch for a cleaner environment

Kevin Dynan drycleaner

Kevin Dynan began working at the family dry-cleaning business in the 70s, and using perchloroethylene, or “perc,” to dry-clean clothes was the only process he had ever known.  Today, EPA classifies perc as a likely carcinogen, and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration has extensive guidance on working with the chemical.  At first, Dynan was not interested in converting equipment to use a less toxic chemical, but an MPCA grant changed his mind.  Now he feels as though making the switch was one of his best business decisions. “We ran the first loads in each machine on Thanksgiving Day, 2017. At that moment, I kicked myself for not making the change 20 years earlier,” he said. Read more on the MPCA’s website.

Stay tuned for upcoming VW settlement funds

School bus

The MPCA released its final plan for investing the first phase of funds the state will receive as part of the national Volkswagen settlement.  The plan reflects input from over a year of engaging with Minnesotans and hearing their priorities for the funding.  We received a lot of helpful input on the draft plan and made some changes in response.  Check out our website for more information on what we heard and how it influenced the final plan.

Electric vehicle charging station

The MPCA plans to seek initial requests for proposals to replace school buses and install electric vehicle-charging stations in May or June of 2018. Requests for proposals for the other grant programs outlined in the state plan will be released over the coming year.

We will post all information on the application process on our new Diesel Replacement Program grant opportunities webpage.  Sign up for our emails to keep up with all funding opportunities and please help spread the word and encourage others to sign up as well!  The VW settlement email list will be the best way to hear when grant applications open.

Latest data now available for Community Air Monitoring Project

Community Air Monitoring Project monitor set up in Bottineay/Marshall Terrace neighborhood of Minneapolis

The MPCA’s Community Air Monitoring Project (CAMP) uses funding from the Minnesota Legislature to do short-term air quality monitoring in selected Minnesota neighborhoods. The objective is to monitor and assess air quality in low-income neighborhoods or communities of color that may be disproportionately impacted by air pollution from highways, air traffic, or industrial sources.  

The CAMP monitor is now located in the Bottineau/Marshall Terrace neighborhood in Minneapolis.  Preliminary results from this monitor are available on the CAMP website with an update through the end of 2017 expected to be available in early May.

A short summary of results from the air monitoring site located at St. Paul Downtown Airport and a detailed summary of  results from the monitor located in St. Anthony Park in St. Paul in 2016 are now available on the CAMP website. A more detailed summary of results from the St. Paul Downtown Airport is expected to be available in early May.

Since starting the project in October 2013, the MPCA has completed monitoring in multiple communities in the Twin Cities and Duluth. The monitor measures common air pollutants that can be harmful to breathe, such as fine particles (dust and soot), volatile organic compounds, and metals. Monitoring from 2013-16 found that generally, except for a few areas where fine particles were slightly elevated, pollutant concentrations in the CAMP-monitored neighborhoods were similar to results from Minnesota’s permanent, statewide air-monitoring network. To learn more about the monitoring results, visit the website or contact Kari Palmer ( or 651-757-2635).  Overall information about the MPCA’s air monitoring program is available here.

New report on Minnesota’s voluntary emission reductions

In Minnesota, a diverse group of partners works together to voluntarily reduce air emissions from neighborhood sources. Clean Air Minnesota convenes stakeholders with representation from state departments, local government, non-profits, and private companies. The MPCA, with CAM support, joined EPA’s Advance Program to support Minnesota’s efforts to achieve voluntary emissions reductions to lower concentrations of both ozone and fine particles.  As researchers better understand the health impacts of air pollutants, EPA reviews and strength­ens national air quality standards, and the Advance Program helps communities stay ahead of changes.

The MPCA recently submitted its updated annual Advance report to EPA.  This update shares information on the status of Minnesota’s air quality along with our state’s accomplishments in addressing emissions from neighborhood sources of air pollution.  The projects that CAM partners collaborate on help Minnesota achieve measureable emissions reductions and track our progress.

Exploring guiding principles for electric vehicles and power sector benefits

Whitepaper cover image

The MPCA joined a group of regional stakeholders including other states, automakers, electric utilities, companies that make chargers, and environmental organizations in developing a white paper on how electric vehicles and grid transformations can go hand-in-hand to benefit utility customers, the environment, and the economy.  The paper, titled “Electric Utility Roles in the Electric Vehicle (EV) Market: Consensus Principles for Utility EV Program Design,” provides some guiding principles for utility-based EV programs to benefit consumers besides those who drive EVs, help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and traditional air pollutants, and benefit energy security and reliability.


American Lung Association releases State of the Air Report

The American Lung Association released its annual report on air quality across the country.  You can read the report and look up air quality information on your state, county, and city on the ALA website.


EPA proposes rollback of vehicle greenhouse gas standards

On April 13, 2018, EPA formally announced it plans to re-evaluate the greenhouse gas emissions standards for model year 2022-2025 light-duty vehicles.  Minnesota opposes the rollback of these standards and has joined other states in suing to block EPA’s action.  Check out this Minnesota Public Radio story for more.


EPA proposes new rule on scientific studies used in regulation

On April 30, 2018, EPA proposed a new rule that would require data used for regulations to be publicly available.  The MPCA and others have expressed concerns that this new rule would limit EPA’s ability to use epidemiological studies and other protected health data to develop regulations to protect human health. Check out this Washington Post article for more.

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