BY ON May 2, 2011

Guest blogger Michelle is a frugal, green, homeschooling mom of four in Eastern Iowa. Her family’s goals are to live well on fewer resources. To that end, she explores everything from scratch cooking, ways to reduce budgets, homeschooling, and going green on her blog, Simplify, Live, Love.  This post was Healthy Child, Healthy World’s blog of the week for the week of April 11th.

The truth is: Muscatine, Iowa STINKS. And I don’t mean that figuratively. I mean, the AIR really stinks around here sometimes. On bad days, I can smell the “nasty stuff” (whatever it is) almost 20 miles away (from the south end of Muscatine) in the little town we live in. I tell my children it’s from GPC – the biggest polluter in Muscatine County – making that horrible substance, high fructose corn syrup. Then, my politically correct husband corrects me.

“Technically, they make grain alcohol there, Michelle,” he says. I don’t know what they make there. All I know, is I don’t like the smell, and neither do my kids. I’ve lived in some pretty big cities, and it smells worse here than it did in any of them.

Family in Muscatine, Iowa

Muscatine, Iowa (photo by Adam Burke of Midwest Energy News)

Anything that smells that bad cannot be healthy. Here are some facts about the air quality in Muscatine County, Iowa:

1. It’s THE dirtiest air in all of Iowa. See here.

2. Where 100 is best according to EPA reports, the air quality in Muscatine ranks in at 26.2! See here.

3. According to Adam Burke of Midwest Energy News, “Air monitors in Muscatine clocked 14 days with unsafe SO2 levels between Aug. 27 and Dec. 31 last year, and also registered 19 episodes which exceeded federal standards for smaller particulate matter, more than any other Iowa city for 2010.” See here.

4. In February, 2011, the EPA declared that Muscatine polluters’ plan for clean-up is “substantially inadequate” for controlling air particulates. See here.

Why does this matter?

Dirty air makes people sick. Dirty air is bad for plants and animals. Dirty air is plain unhealthy. It’s bad for people with asthma, it contributes to allergies, sniffles, sore throats, headaches, lung disease, and heart attacks. Read here and here.

What can you do?

• Check out Mom’s Clean Air Force website.

• Sign the Environmental Defense Action Fund’s Petition on Mercury and Air Toxic Standards.

• Write a letter to the EPA. Here are tips.

• Contact your local representative and let him or her know that air quality is important to you. Here is contact information for Jeff Kaufmann, Muscatine’s State Representative. And here is a list of all the representatives in Iowa.

• Check out Healthy Child Healthy World and “like” them on Facebook.

• Teach your kids! Here are some of our favorite environmental books:

The Lorax (Classic Seuss)The Berenstain Bears Don't Pollute (Anymore) [B BEARS DONT POLLUTE (ANYMORE)]The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest

Do you have a favorite kid’s book with an environmental theme? I’d love to know what it is.

The Des Moines Register has an interesting map here, which shows the biggest polluters in Iowa counties and also lists how much and what type of pollution they put in the air. I recommend you look at it. It was eye-opening for me.

How will you celebrate Earth Day on April 22? Make a point to do one of the action items I have listed above. If enough people care, we CAN make a difference.

TOPICS: Activism, Asthma, Mercury Poisoning, Pollution