Air quality refers the relative ability of ambient or indoor air to support the health and other needs of people and animals. This page includes topics related to protection of outdoor ambiant air and air permitting issues. Indoor air quality is discussed on the DEHS Industrial Hygiene Indoor Air Quality web page.
Ambient air quality is central to our individual health, longevity and quality of life, as well as the health and safety of local, regional and worldwide ecosystems, natural resources and constructed features. Pollutants emitted into the ambient air impact these systems.
Air pollution laws—such as the Clean Air Act—have been enacted to research, monitor and control ambient air pollution. Processes that produce air pollution are subject to emission limits, monitoring, and reporting requirements to ensure that a healthy ambient air quality is maintained. Federally, the requirements are administered by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with specific local and regional issues and oversight by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).
At the University, the Environmental Compliance Division of DEHS administers the regulatory requirements and permit oversight associated with outdoor air quality. Indoor air quality issues are addressed on the DEHS Industrial Hygiene Indoor Air Quality web page.
University Outdoor Air Quality
The University is mainly affected by requirements for:
The primary stationary sources of air pollution at the University of Minnesota are campus boilers for space heat, and emergency generators — which are used to provide power in each building in case electric service is interrupted. Each of the four major University of Minnesota campuses and a few other locations are required to maintain an Air Emission Permit issued by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).
Environmental Compliance Division staff reviews emissions, performs emission calculations and determines if permit coverage is required for a particular activity or piece of equipment. If permitting or permit modification is required, permit coverage is required prior to operation of the equipment, and is coordinated by Environmental Compliance staff. Documentation of ‘insignificant activities’ is maintained by Environmental Compliance staff.