Skip to main content

Air Pollutants

Passive air sampler at site in Benzonia, MI
Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy

Air Pollutants

Air pollution refers to the release of pollutants into the air—pollutants that are detrimental to human health and the planet as a whole.

  • Most Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) are also Toxic Air Contaminants or TACs, however there are only 188 HAPs while Michigan has over 1,200 TACs regulated under our TAC rules. Our staff consider what level of TACs may be emitted from industrial processes when those process are getting an air permit. There are health-based screening levels that are looked at and compared with what pollutants a company is asking to emit into the outdoor or ambient air. These screening levels are designed to be protective of sensitive groups, such as the very young, the elderly and those with existing conditions.

    For more questions and answers about TACs, check out our Michigan Air Toxics Rules Overview

  • The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for six common air pollutants (also known as "criteria air pollutants"); Particulate Matter (PM), Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), Carbon Monoxide (CO) Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx), Sulfur dioxide (SO2) and Lead. These pollutants are found all over the U.S. They can harm your health and the environment, and cause property damage. More specific information on these pollutants can be found on our State Implementation Plan webpage.

  • Hazardous Air Pollutants or HAPs are those pollutants identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects. USEPA has and continues to promulgate standards to reduce the release of these 188 HAPS into the environment. The standards are referred to as the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants or NESHAPs. They require the use of Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) to reduce the particular HAP emission. 

    For additional information about HAPs and the NESHAPs visit the National Air Toxics Assessment website.

  • Asbestos is a general name given to a group of minerals that do not dissolve in water or evaporate. Asbestos fibers resist heat and fire and cannot be broken down easily by chemicals or bacteria. Asbestos has been used in many products, such as insulation, floor tile, roofing materials and siding. Although most of these products are no longer made using asbestos, there is still a risk of exposure to asbestos during renovations and demolitions.

    Contractors have specific obligations and should visit the Asbestos NESHAP Program and make sure to submit the appropriate notifications in a timely manner.

    If you have concerns about dust, you may call the Environmental Assistance Center at 800-662-9678 or submit an air quality complaint. More information about protecting yourself during demolition is available on our Asbestos and Demolition page.

  • Ozone is a regional pollutant that is formed in the atmosphere over time from emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) and Nitrogen Oxides (NOx). VOCs are compounds that evaporate easily into air. VOC emissions come from things such as industrial use of solvents and degreasing agents, evaporation of gasoline, and consumer products such as paints and cleaning products. NOx is emitted from cars, trucks, power plants, and various industrial sources, usually when some type of fuel is burned. When VOC and NOx emissions are combined on warm, sunny, non-breezy days, harmful ozone may be formed. In this document, you will find questions answered by topic, grouped together for your convenience.

    The Ozone layer is the upper atmosphere helps protect the earth from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays. Ground-level ozone is unhealthy to breathe. It can narrow a person's airways and lungs to work harder to provide oxygen to the body. Individuals most susceptible to the effects of ozone exposure include individuals with a pre-existing or chronic respiratory disease, children, and adults who actively exercise or work outdoors.

  • The purpose of the monitors it to measure pollutant concentrations in the outdoor (ambient) air. Ambient air is the air that the public breathes where we live, work, and play. The purpose of the network is to measure air pollutants over long periods to:

    • ensure air quality standards are met,
    • identify pollution trends,
    • support air pollution forecasting,
    • provide real-time air quality information,
    • assess community exposure,
    • and be used in air quality models.

    This network consists of meteorological, gaseous, particle and air toxics monitors mandated by the USEPA in 40 CFR, Part 58 as part of the Michigan State Implementation Plan (SIP). The network is not intended to tell us where pollutants come from or to be used as a tool to regulate a specific company or industry type.

    What air monitoring is EGLE doing near me? Check out our interactive Air Monitoring Sites web map to find out more.

  • The federal Clean Air Act requires each state to maintain an inventory of air pollution emissions for facilities meeting specific criteria. Companies are required to report actual emissions of criteria pollutants. The inventory is required to be updated every year. Each year, approximately 2,000 facilities report emissions.  The emissions data is audited by EGLE staff and submitted to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) for addition to the national data bank. This information is used to track air pollution trends, determine the effectiveness of current air pollution control programs, serve as a basis for future year projections of air quality, track source compliance, provide information for permit review, and calculate the emissions portion of the air quality fee. Michigan's emission inventory is collected annually through MiEnviro Portal.

    To read more and access the MiEnviro Portal log-in page, visit the MiEnviro Portal home page.

  • Rule 201 of the Michigan Air Pollution Control Rules requires a person to obtain an approved Permit to Install for any potential source of air pollution unless the source is exempt from the permitting process. This can be criteria pollutants, hazardous air pollutants, toxic air contaminants, or a combination of these.  Does your business have paint or other coating application booths, storage tanks, printing presses, boilers, soil remediation projects, plating operations, degreasers, ovens, or any other process that may emit air pollution? If so, your facility may need to complete an Air Use Permit application.

    To read more about Michigan’s air permit program, visit Permits to Install (PTI) / New Source Review (NSR).