The Clean Water Blog

The Horrors of Sulfur Dioxide

I imagine that reading about “Sulfur Dioxide” may, at first, sound about as interesting as reading through your old high school science homework, and nowhere nearly as interesting as say, a good Stephen King thriller.  But what if I told you that Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) was even scarier than the books in your typical Horror section . . . and posed a far more realistic threat than vampires and haunted cars?

Exposure to SO2—in even just a few minutes—can have significant impacts to human health, including aggravating asthma and other respiratory illnesses. It can even exacerbate existing heart disease, leading to increased hospitalizations and premature deaths.  Asthmatics, children and the elderly are especially at risk from such pollution.

Interested now?  Because it gets better . . . well, worse actually . . . much, much worse—SO2 pollution is skulking around and haunting us even as you’re reading this. And those good guys with the reliquary of anti-monster accoutrements who usually sweep in to battle the forces of evil and keep them at bay . . . well, they’re actually letting the big, bad boogeymen write their own rules. See, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) are the “Good Guys”, responsible for developing plans and implementing programs to meet and maintain National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) regarding SO2, to protect communities. That all sounds like a good plan, right?  Well unfortunately, The MDEQ is now allowing DTE Energy and other polluters to set insignificant reductions and write their own permits rather than directly including them in the State Implementation Plan (SIP).  As you may have guessed, their restrictions are really weak when it comes to reducing SO2 pollution—leaving you, your community, and tens of thousands of others at risk. (The equivalent to letting the aforementioned vampires be responsible for providing their own garlic cloves, holy water and other preventative safety measures.) As it is, Wayne County has the highest number of pediatric asthma cases in Michigan, according to a 2014 American Lung Association report. The City of Detroit and nearby downriver communities are, combined, a heavily polluted area deemed the “Epicenter of Asthma Burden” by the Michigan Department of Community Health. Residents have long complained about the number of polluting industrial operations in their communities, and it’s time their voices be heard. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality can—and certainly must—stand up against big polluters like DTE Energy by putting forward strong limits on SO2, and setting a solid state plan that will reduce SO2 pollution to meet federal standards . . . because to fail at this would truly be the a real horror! Take action - Tell MDEQ to protect our communities from SO2!