The Spokane Clean Air Agency has recently gotten federal approval for a limited plan to keep the air clean when it comes to carbon monoxide (CO) emissions, due to work done here to reduce CO pollution. Spokane has not violated federal standards for CO pollution since 1996, but at one time, the area had hundreds of violations a year.

Carbon monoxide in concentrated amounts is lethal. But it is also harmful in smaller amounts because it reduces the flow of oxygen to the body’s vital organs and tissues, according to the regional clean air agency.

The Spokesman-Review reports that the new plan may end mandatory vehicle emission testing by the end of 2019 at the earliest.

In 1976, Spokane saw 404 violations of the standard that limits CO to no more than 9 parts per million over eight hours. It was declared a “non-attainment” area and had to undertake a strict program to get the problem under control. Since then, CO levels have dropped steadily since; Spokane hasn’t seen a reading of 3 parts per million or higher since 2009.

Most of that reduction is due to improved fuel mileage, new vehicle pollution technology and blended fuels that reduce emissions.

The city of Spokane also synchronized stoplights and installed one-way streets to reduce vehicles idling at stoplights downtown. SRTC conducts air quality modeling that simulates the impact transportation projects and programs will have on air quality before they are constructed or implemented.

Spokane County was deemed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency to have attained the carbon monoxide standard in 2005, and was required to develop two 10-year maintenance plans. The second of those two plans was approved recently.

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