Multi-Pollutant Planning and Control Strategies

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Multi-pollutant control programs can save money and time, and achieve significant health, environmental and economic benefits, while reducing costs and burdens on sources of air pollution.

Many pollution sources (e.g., industrial facilities) emit several different pollutants that directly cause health and environmental impacts or react in the environment to form other harmful pollutants. Some control technologies can reduce emissions of multiple pollutants. It can be more efficient to develop integrated control strategies that address multiple pollutants rather than separate strategies for each pollutant individually.

Air quality managers can consider multiple policy goals in developing an air pollution management plan. Policy goals that could be considered in such a program include: reducing concentrations of ozone, particulate matter, and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) such as mercury; planning to address transportation and energy needs; mitigating and adapting to climate change.

Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Toolkit

EPA and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) created a toolkit for developing historical emission inventories and estimating the health, climate and agricultural benefits of scenarios for mitigation of short-lived climate pollutants, like black carbon and methane.

The LEAP-IBC tool builds upon SEI's existing Long-range Energy Alternatives Planning (LEAP) system by adding the Integrated Benefits Calculator (IBC) - a simplified benefits estimation tool. It is intended for use by countries where data on local air quality may be incomplete. Find out more and see a webinar about LEAP-IBC.Exit

The toolkit also includes a customized health benefit and economic valuation tool, the Environmental Benefits Mapping and Analysis Program - Community Edition (BenMAP-CE).

Climate change and air quality

Many sources of air pollutants also are sources of greenhouse gases, including power plants and facilities associated with the production of oil and natural gas, and transportation. Control strategies exist that can both reduce air pollution and the impacts of climate change.

For example, controls for organic compounds will reduce emissions of pollutants that form ground-level ozone and also emissions of methane, a pollutant that has global warming potential. Also, measures that lessen the demand for energy (e.g., using more energy efficient products) reduce associated air pollution and carbon emissions from power plants.

Black carbon is a component of fine particulate matter that has climate warming properties. Sources of emissions include diesel engines and brick kilns. Because fine particle pollution has harmful health effects, controlling emissions of black carbon from these and other sources can have positive impacts on both health and climate.

More resources on EPA activities at the nexus of climate change and air quality:

Multi-pollutant planning examples

EPA’s Clean Air Act Advisory Committee (CAAAC) recommended that EPA allow states to integrate planning requirements and other air quality goals into a comprehensive plan. The recommended plan would demonstrate attainment and maintenance of multiple national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS), accomplish sector-based reductions, realize risk reductions of HAPs and make improvements in visibility. It could also be structured to integrate programs addressing land use, transportation, energy and climate.

EPA has encouraged states to take a multi-pollutant approach to managing air quality. North Carolina, New York and the City of St. Louis (involving both Missouri and Illinois) participated in an EPA-led pilot effort to develop multi-pollutant air quality management plans. EPA continues to work with interested state and local agencies on multi-pollutant risk-based analyses.

More on these efforts and other examples: