Health officials consider steps to improve Reno’s air quality |

Health officials consider steps to improve Reno’s air quality

The Associated Press

RENO (AP) — Local health officials will consider a plan to reduce the amount of sand-salt mixture applied to Washoe County roads during winter storms — a step aimed at improving air quality.

The Washoe District Health Board is scheduled to discuss the proposal at a meeting Wednesday in Reno.

The plan comes in response to last year’s decision by the federal Environmental Protection Agency to downgrade Reno’s air quality rating due to excessive amounts of particulate matter — airborne soot and dust — found in its air.

Unless local officials take steps to reduce particulates, the Reno area stands to lose millions in federal highway dollars.

While some officials worry the plan could cause more accidents, reducing road sand may be the only way to avoid air quality problems, said Andrew Goodrich, director of the district’s air quality division.

“We’ll reduce the amount of pollution in the air,” Goodrich told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “(Road sand) is a large source of our particulate emissions.”

Regulations affecting wood stoves and construction activity — sources of soot and dust respectively — have had positive results, Goodrich said.

The proposal calls for local and state crews to apply 50 percent less road sand by the winter of 2004-2005.

It also calls for crews to use environmentally-friendly road sand and to clean it up within four days of application.

To help meet the proposed requirements, the Nevada Department of Transportation plans to step up use of a brine solution, which melts snow and ice without putting dust in the air.

“It works very well,” said Thor Dyson, assistant district engineer with NDOT.

But Ken Updike, an assistant public works director for Sparks, said his city won’t be able to start using brine solution for a couple of years.

That could mean more slippery roads and wrecks because the city would have to reduce its use of road sand until then, he said.

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