EPA testing finds dirty air on Chicago Union Station platforms

November 6, 2015

Confirming what Chicago-area commuters have experienced for years, federal regulators have documented spikes of lung- and heart-damaging pollution in the acrid blue clouds that hover between diesel locomotives at Union Station.Website Insert State Supported Passenger Trains copy

In a report released Thursday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said testing conducted during the summer found that soot concentrations on the platforms were significantly higher than on the streets outside. Air quality generally was worst during the evening rush hour, and soot levels were higher on the south platform than the north.

 The findings provide new evidence of chronic pollution problems at the region’s busiest commuter station, despite well-publicized efforts to improve air quality.

Testing by the EPA is the latest response to a 2010 Tribune investigation that found high levels of diesel soot inside the station and on board Metra passenger cars. The agency is exploring how it could use its legal authority to finally help clear the air for nearly 130,000 commuters who pass through Union Station every weekday.

Federal regulations generally don’t address situations in which people breathe highly polluted air for short periods every day. Instead, the EPA determines violations of the Clean Air Act by measuring soot pollution over longer periods of time across entire counties and requires cleaner factories, power plants, engines and fuels to meet federal standards.

Read the full story from Chicago Tribune reporter Michael Hawthorne by clicking here. Some readers may need to sign in through a free subscription.

 

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