EPA tests Union Station air for diesel pollution

June 16, 2015

After a series of repeated complaints about a heavy diesel smell permeating through Chicago's Union Station, the federal government has sent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to investigation the station. For the 130,000 commuters that pass through the station every day, this means that over the next month, they'll see EPA employees wandering from platform to platform measuring just how much soot and other air pollution is present in the area.

This testing is another step in a long-term response to a 2010 Chicago Tribune investigation that discovered dangerously high levels of soot on board passenger trains and the station itself. The EPA, however, is only focusing its tests on the air of the station itself, as the Clean Air Act gives them proper jurisdiction over monitoring outdoor air, but gives them questionable authority when it comes to regulating the air quality of interior locations like train cars.

In response to the investigation, Marc Magliari, a spokesperson for Amtrak, said that the company "welcomes the EPA's interest and expertise. At the same time we are working with (neighboring building owners) to make certain they are fulfilling their requirements for ventilation." 

Amtrak's own testing found that in general, the air quality on commuter cars was well below occupational standards, but that the levels of soot occasionally spiked in certain parts of the trains, meaning some commuters experienced more pollution than others.

Because of how rapidly they can change, staying on top of and following EPA regulations can be difficult and time consuming. Hiring environmental consultants can help you better understand the latest trends and regulations and find quick and cost effective ways to adjust your business to meet them.