Muscatine Mother for Clean Air - Stories from Rural Iowa

From time to time I run across editorials, letters to the editor, and other random environmental news that I find interesting.  This piece I found particularly compelling and I wanted to share. It comes from a community activist in Muscatine, IA who is really fighting to improve air quality in Muscatine – and throughout the state. Her name is Michelle Marine and you can read her blog at: Simplify, Live, Love

By: Michelle Marine 

In 2006, my husband and I and our four children moved to his hometown of Wilton in Muscatine County. We've lived in lots of large cities, both in the US and abroad. We chose rural living for a variety of issues, one being for an overall healthier lifestyle. I was saddened to learn that the air quality here in rural Iowa is sometimes worse than in the big cities we lived in the past. I started a blog at Simplify, Live, Love.

The blog focuses on frugal living, homeschooling, grammar, and living green. I became interested in the air quality issue after realizing how badly the air smells at our house in Wilton some days. I researched the issue more in depth when Healthy Child, Healthy World asked for bloggers to blog on air quality.

I was shocked at what I learned about the air quality in Muscatine County. Muscatine County has the highest levels of particulate matter, a hazardous air pollutant. Our residents are exposed to the lowest air quality levels in the state of Iowa. And as we know, many of our friends and neighbors suffer from air-pollution related illnesses, including an unclassifiable upper-respiratory disease physicians have come to call the “Muscatine Crud.”

My research found long-term exposure to hazardous air pollutants could lead to a variety of health issues including disease, birth defects, brain damage, premature death and cancers. These pollutants affect human health especially for our most susceptible citizens: children, the elderly, and people with respiratory illnesses like asthma. This is a serious public health issue for Muscatine County.

I was also disheartened to learn despite restrictions in the Clean Air Act that required fossil fuels facilities to install modern emission controls, many plants continue to operate without proper equipment that minimizes air pollution. To combat this threat to our health, I was happy to learn the Environmental Protection Agency has devised a set of important rules and regulations to reduce air pollution.

Of these rules, the two most significant include a proposed Clean Air Transport Rule (CATR), which would reduce power plant emissions, and a court-ordered hazardous air pollutants (HAP) rule that aims to reduce acid gases and toxics, such a mercury.

I ask my fellow Muscatine County residents to join me in calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce these new standards would help clean the air and protect the health millions of Americans. These changes are critical the public’s health from pollutants that cause needless death and disease ever year.

Michelle Marine lives in Wilton, Iowa with her husband and four children. She teaches online community college classes and blogs at

To submit a public comment or show your support for EPA Clean Air Act Rules you can contact 

About the Author(s)

Mark Langgin