When investigating issues of air pollution in St. Clair County, the most relevant information is in fact a decided lack of information. This is not unusual when looking at air pollution, as air dispersed pollutants can travel far distances fairly quickly, hindering the backtracking of their sources. This is especially true of the area of Michigan that St. Clair County is in, considering that strong winds generated by the Great Lakes push east from Lake Michigan and south from Lake Huron converging on St. Clair County and the surrounding area. However, this doesn’t matter for the majority of St. Clair County, as there is no official monitoring of air quality to determine if there might be a problem.
The air quality data published by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality lists a single monitoring station for St. Clair County located in Port Huron. In 2010, this station monitored different air quality index standards for ozone and three different types of particulate matter. While all four of these were within EPA guidelines, something of note from this report is what the Port Huron station didn’t monitor.
St. Clair County has 25 different facilities with emissions of criteria air pollutants spread throughout 10 cities and municipalities. Each of these facilities produces some amount of six different pollutants that need to be monitored: carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds (VOC’s), and two sizes of particulate matter, PM-2.5 and PM-10. Of these, only the PM-2.5 is monitored at the Port Huron monitoring site, although nitrogen oxides and VOC’s are mostly dangerous because they create ozone, which is also monitored in Port Huron. For a list of these facilities and there different emissions please visit here.
The lack of information concerning air pollution is most assuredly not limited to St. Clair County, as the majority of the state and nation have similarly limited information, yet it is disturbing nonetheless. Due to the high dispersibility of airborne pollutants, a concentrated cluster of cancer such as found in St. Clair County would be harder to justify than pollution from land or water, but with the way that the system is set up, it is currently impossible to know.