EPA Releases Annual Air Report, Highlighting Trends Through 2021

June 06, 2022
Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the annual interactive report tracking America’s progress in controlling air pollution. “Our Nation’s Air: Trends Through 2021” offers readers an opportunity to learn about the health and environmental impacts of air pollution; track trends in air quality and emissions data, explore efforts to improve visibility in treasured national parks; and explore community-level health impacts of air toxics emissions reported for 2017.
“Our work to ensure clean, breathable air for all is one of the highest priorities at EPA, which is why I’m encouraged to see dramatic long-term reductions in air emissions. The report also shows that environmental protection and a growing economy go hand in hand,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Today’s report demonstrates the Agency’s on-going work, along with state, local, Tribal, and private sector partners, to achieve crucial improvements in air quality across the country.”
EPA examines long-term trends to track the nation's progress toward clean air. The report released today shows that, between 1970 and 2021, the combined emissions of six key pollutants dropped by 78 percent, while the U.S. economy remained strong – growing 292 percent over the same time.
In addition, national average concentrations of harmful air pollutants decreased considerably across our nation between 1990 and 2021: 
  • Carbon Monoxide (CO) 8-Hour,79%
  • Lead (Pb) 3-Month Average,85% (from 2010)
  • Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) Annual,61%
  • Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) 1-Hour,54%
  • Ozone (O3) 8-Hour,21%
  • Particulate Matter 10 microns (PM10) 24-Hour,32%
  • Particulate Matter 2.5 microns (PM2.5) Annual,37% (from 2000)
  • Particulate Matter 2.5 microns (PM2.5) 24-Hour,33% (from 2000)
  • Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) 1-Hour,91%
It is important to note that air quality concentrations can vary year to year, even as human-caused emissions continue to decline. In 2021, national average concentrations of 8-hour ozone averages, annual fine particle levels, and 1-hour sulfur dioxide averages increased slightly over 2020 levels. Variations in weather, and events such as dust storms and wildfires can have an impact on air quality in affected areas. Many environmental impacts associated with climate change can impact air quality particularly affecting the severity and timing of the wildfire season, including changes in temperature, precipitation, and drought.
The 2021 interactive report includes a new tool to explore the latest (2017) air toxics emissions data and risks.  This summary tool provides access to community-level information regarding potential cancer risk and noncancer hazards from air toxics emissions. Coupled with EPA’s newly released Air Toxics Screening Assessment AirToxScreen, this tool gives communities — especially those with environmental justice concerns — more complete information about their air quality.
The report includes interactive graphics that enable citizens, policymakers and stakeholders to view and download detailed information by pollutant, geographic location and year.  Explore the report and download graphics and data here: (https://gispub.epa.gov/air/trendsreport/2022/)
EPA Names Los Angeles as 2021 Top City for ENERGY STAR Certified Buildings
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing its annual “Top Cities” list, spotlighting the cities with the greatest number of ENERGY STAR certified commercial and multifamily buildings in 2021. Los Angeles leads the pack with nearly 650 ENERGY STAR certified buildings. 
“The city of LA is leading the way by proving that cutting energy costs, increasing efficiency, and reducing emissions, can also save money for municipalities and their constituents,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “Congratulations Los Angeles for its #1 Energy Star recognition in reducing carbon pollution and fighting the effects of climate change.”
Commercial buildings are responsible for 18% of the nation’s energy use and spend more than $190 billion per year on energy bills. ENERGY STAR certified buildings use an average of 35% less energy and are responsible for 35% less carbon dioxide emissions than typical buildings.
“We’ve led the country in clean buildings year after year because we know the importance of giving building owners the tools to reduce their carbon footprint,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Buildings are not just Los Angeles’ largest source of climate pollution – they’re one of our greatest opportunities to show the world that climate action and economic opportunity go hand in hand. We know the real work still lies ahead, so we’ll keep doing our part to realize our promise of reduced emissions, healthier communities, and more inclusive economies.”
First released in 2009, EPA’s list of cities with the most ENERGY STAR certified buildings shows how buildings across America are embracing energy efficiency as a simple and effective way to save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To create the annual list, EPA tallies the number of ENERGY STAR certified buildings within each metropolitan area, as defined by the U.S. Census, and creates separate rankings for mid-sized and small cities. These areas include the city itself as well as surrounding suburbs. This year’s list includes buildings that earned EPA’s ENERGY STAR certification during the year 2021. This year’s Top Cities are:
Top 5 Cities Overall:
Rank Metro Area  Building Count  Last Year’s Rank 
1 Los Angeles 648 1
2 Washington DC 498 2
3 Atlanta 342 4
4 San Francisco 332 3
5 Dallas 286 8
Across the country, more than 6,000 commercial buildings earned the EPA’s ENERGY STAR last year.
As of the end of 2021, over 39,000 buildings across America have earned ENERGY STAR certification. Together, these buildings have saved more than $5 billion on energy bills and prevented nearly 22 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions—equal to the annual emissions of more than 2.7 million homes. 
To earn the ENERGY STAR certification, a commercial building must achieve an ENERGY STAR score of 75 or higher on EPA’s 1 – 100 scale, indicating that it is more energy efficient than 75% of similar buildings nationwide. A building’s ENERGY STAR score is calculated based on a number of factors, including energy use, hours of operation, and a variety of other operating characteristics.
Throughout the COVID pandemic in 2021, building owners and managers relied on the ENERGY STAR score to maintain a clear picture of their buildings’ energy performance, despite major changes to their operations. While many office buildings, schools, and retail stores saw significant reductions in occupancy, most hospitals and multifamily buildings were more heavily used. The ENERGY STAR score took these changes into account and continued to provide an accurate assessment of performance for all types of buildings.

ENERGY STAR® is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency, providing simple, credible, and unbiased information that consumers and businesses rely on to make well-informed decisions. Thousands of industrial, commercial, utility, state, and local organizations—including nearly 40% of the Fortune 500®—rely on their partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to deliver cost-saving energy efficiency solutions. Since 1992, ENERGY STAR and its partners helped American families and businesses avoid more than $500 billion in energy costs and achieve 4 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas reductions. More background information about ENERGY STAR’s impacts can be found at www.energystar.gov/impacts and state-level information can be found at www.energystar.gov/statefacts.
More on ENERGY STAR Top Cities, including this year’s ranking of top small and mid-sized cities, as well as last year’s rankings: www.energystar.gov/topcities.
Search for ENERGY STAR certified buildings: www.energystar.gov/buildinglocator.

More about earning the ENERGY STAR certification for commercial buildings: www.energystar.gov/buildingcertification
Prepare for Hurricane Season
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reminding people, businesses and state and local governments where they can find the best information on preparedness before hurricane force winds or storm flooding may occur. The new Atlantic hurricane season kicks off today.
“EPA’s response to natural disasters is one of the most important ways that we protect human health and the environment,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Daniel Blackman. “We encourage preparation and planning to protect your family and home during hurricane season.”
EPA understands that effective emergency response and recovery is most successful when every person, community, business leader and government official is prepared. In addition, the agency is taking this opportunity to remind facility operators of their legal obligations to prevent, minimize and report chemical releases in order to fully protect people and the environment. EPA is also urging those who live in hurricane-prone areas to take proactive steps now to be prepared for hurricane season.
EPA's hurricane website includes information for business operators on preventing and reporting chemical releases due to severe weather. Local governments and community agencies can find suggestions for preparing and protecting water and wastewater facilities. There is also detailed information for debris management planning, since storm debris can occur in enormous amounts that overwhelm local landfills and can also present serious dangers to human health and the environment.
To aid facilities, EPA has posted specific information about release prevention and preparedness requirements and that clarifies reporting requirements, including exemptions. Unlike some natural disasters, the onset of a hurricane is predictable and allows for early preparations to lessen its effect on a facility. This information is available at: https://www.epa.gov/hurricanes.
To help individuals and families prepare for hurricane season, there are also resources available on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) web sites in English at www.Ready.gov and in Spanish at www.Listo.gov.
EPA’s central hub for disaster and hurricane information is available at https://www.epa.gov/hurricanes.
For alerts from the National Weather service, visit https://www.weather.gov/alerts.
Space Age Fuel, Inc., To Pay $135,000 EPA Penalty for N. Santiam Oil Spill
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that Space Age Fuel, Inc. of Clackamas, Oregon has agreed to pay a $135,000 penalty for Clean Water Act violations following the release of oil from an overturned tanker into the North Santiam River.   
On February 16, 2020, a Space Age Fuel, Inc. tanker truck carrying approximately 10,700 gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel rolled over on Oregon Highway 22 and released an estimated 7,800 gallons of oil onto the highway and the surrounding area, which is adjacent to the North Santiam River.  
Most of the released oil collected in a ditch on the side of the highway and a portion flowed directly into the North Santiam River. The oil in the ditch seeped into the soil and moved into the riverbank, eventually reaching the river. Water quality sampling indicated elevated levels of petroleum in the river from February 17 through March 11, 2020, and sheen was visible on the river for over three months. The river is home to federally endangered and threatened steelhead and salmon. 
The North Santiam River provides drinking water to the City of Salem and other communities. The spill threatened, but ultimately did not affect, drinking water.  
The day of the spill, the company initiated cleanup activities, including placement of boom, soil excavation, pumping using vacuum trucks, and water quality monitoring. 
In addition to the $135,000 Clean Water Act penalty the company also agreed (PDF) to pay a $72,000 penalty to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and agreed to a requirement that it develop an inclement weather safety program.   
OSHA Cites Orlando Contractor After 67-Year-Old Worker Fatally Struck by Collapsing Roof Trusses 
An Orlando framing contractor's failure to comply with building code requirements and a roof truss manufacturer's engineering specification caused the roof trusses to collapse and fatally injure a 67-year-old worker at an Orange City building site on Nov. 8, 2021.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Top Rank Construction for failing to follow required safety standards and ensure the roof trusses were braced to resist buckling, leaning or collapsing. The employer also allowed workers to anchor their personal fall arrest systems to individual trusses, and exposed other workers to fall hazards by failing to ensure the use of a fall protection system. The agency proposed $18,853 in penalties.
"The risks associated with installing roof trusses are well known in the construction industry, and yet Top Rank Construction failed to follow established requirements to ensure the work was done safely," explained OSHA Acting Area Office Director Heather Sanders in Jacksonville, Florida. "Installing trusses safely requires that employers conduct a hazard assessment and address the hazards to properly protect workers."
OSHA also cited the worksite's general contractor – Fulcrum Construction Group LLC – with a serious violation for failing to protect workers from fall hazards. The agency assessed the Daphne, Alabama, company $10,151 in proposed penalties.
The companies have 15 business days from receipt of their citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Free Amazon HD 10 Tablet with RCRA and DOT Training
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