Michigan residents weathered a summer of poor air quality

Nicoline BradfordHaze from the Canadian wildfires hung over Brody neighborhood at MSU in July, 2023. This summer Michigan residents saw the real consequences of climate change. In early June and throughout July, Michiganders woke up to hazy days and air quality warnings. Robert Wahl, an environmental epidemiologist at Michigan State University, said the levels of air pollutants this summer are very unusual for Michigan. The Air Quality Index, AQI, is used to measure levels of air pollutants on a scale of “good” to “hazardous.” While AQI measures multiple pollutants, the most concerning is particle pollution smaller than 10 micrometers.This is called fine particulate matter and is a direct result of the wildfires raging through Canada.

MSU junior creates clothing to reduce waste

Does a garment have to be just a garment or a platform for multiple garments? For Timosha Krivtsov, a junior in the department of Apparel and Textile Design, the answer is the latter. After discovering that the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry, Krivtsov embarked on a journey to create a new recipe for clothing, one that would reduce fabric waste and harm the environment less. He found that a lot of the same silhouettes are used recurrently. “For instance, a hoodie and a crew-neck are essentially the same thing, but a crew-neck just doesn’t have a kangaroo pocket and a hood,” he said.

St. Clair River still battling old pollution

Capital News Service

LANSING — The St. Clair River that connects Lake Huron with Lake St. Clair has a long history of environmental problems that continues today, despite serious attempts to solve them. They are challen­­­­­­­­­­ges as diverse as E. coli bacteria that shut down beaches, industrial pollution by PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and mercury contamination so severe that residents are advised to limit their consumption of locally caught fish. Cleanup and sediment remediation projects have improved the river recently and it is beginning to flourish once again.

Plastic fibers emerge as Great Lakes pollutant

Capital News Service

LANSING — The Huron River near Ann Arbor had the greatest concentration of microplastic pollution, a recent study of Great Lakes tributaries shows. It also had the most plastic fragments in a study that categorized microplastics beyond the beads in consumer products like body wash identified in earlier studies. The study by Austin Baldwin, a hydrologist at the Wisconsin Water Science Center of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), categorized the plastic as beads, fragments, foams or fibers. Fragments are broken pieces of larger plastics, foams are filmy materials like bags and fibers include fishing line, rope and other fine materials. Baldwin’s team sampled 29 Great Lakes tributaries during the spring of 2014 and 2015.

Beach closings down but pollution still murky

Capital News Service
LANSING – The number of closings or health safety advisories due to pollution at Michigan’s more than 1,200 public and nearly 500 private beaches has dropped the past three years. “Surface water quality is generally showing improvement where programs are in place to correct problems and restore water quality,” according to the 2014 Integrated Report for Water Quality and Pollution Control in Michigan by the state’s Department of Environmental Quality. But taking the long view, parts of the state’s coastal environment may not be as promising as they appear. “All our nearshore waters are at risk,” said Joan Rose, the director of the Water Quality and Environmental Microbiology Laboratory at Michigan State University. “No surprise, in urban areas things are more serious.”
Rose’s lab has studied cores of sediments from the bottom of Lake St.

Yet another downside to big snow: pollution

Capital News Service
LANSING — Hoping for a quick thaw to escape the winter blues? Not so fast. A fast melt of accumulated snow could harm Michigan waters. The problem: Winter application of manure to farm fields. Rapidly melting snow runs off frozen ground and heads toward lakes and streams. It can carrying with it manure that sat on top of the snow.

Homeowners lose chemical contamination appeal

Capital News Service
LANSING – Homeowners whose property was contaminated by materials from a now-defunct chemical plant in Gratiot County have lost their lawsuit against contractors and trucking companies that removed toxic sediments from the adjacent Pine River. A unanimous three-judge Court of Appeals panel refused to reinstate the suit, which seeks damages from 18 companies. The case is a legacy of extensive pollution at a 54-acre plant site owned by now-bankrupt Velsicol Chemical Corp. and of the Pine River bordering the facility. From 1936 until 1978, the factory, then known as the Michigan Chemical Corp., produced chemical compounds and products, including the flame retardant PBBs – polybrominated biphenyls – and the now-banned pesticide DDT.

Results mixed in new air quality study

Capital News Service
LANSING – Michigan has reduced overall air pollution since 2012, but its most populous counties still don’t earn a passing grade, according to a new report from the American Lung Association. Its State of the Air report provides grades of A to F in two areas: particle pollution and ozone action days. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) declares ozone days when smog and weather conditions create the risk of health problems.
Wayne and Macomb counties received failing grades in the ozone day category. Other counties that failed include Allegan and Muskegon, while Oakland, Ottawa and St. Clair received Ds.

Pollution cleanup law effective at two sites

Capital News Service
LANSING – The dance between businesses and environmental protection took a giant step – in one direction or the other – with recent changes to Michigan’s environmental cleanup law. The law was changed last year to provide a clearer path to completion by those responsible for the contaminatiomn without sacrificing protection. It also sets priority projects based on the threat they pose to the environment and public health. “I get the sense that the business community is supportive of the reforms,” Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Director Dan Wyant said. “We try to be balanced and meet with environmental and business groups.