The issue of air pollution is a concern that has been on the radar for quite some time. Reducing pollution and improving air quality is a collaborative effort that comes down to daily choices.
Biodiesel plays an important role in improving air quality, as it is the only advanced biofuel recognized by the EPA.
According to a new study released by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), air quality has improved since 2008. Since Minnesota’s use of B10, particulate matter has reduced by 163 tons, hydrocarbons by 2016 tons, carbon monoxide by 1,820 tons and greenhouse gases by 671,000 tons, which is equivalent to taking 128,000 cars off Minnesota’s roads according to the American Lung Association of Minnesota.
The report attributes about 2,000 deaths, 400 hospitalizations and 600 emergency room visits in the Twin Cities throughout 2008 to air pollution. New data from 2014 states that while air quality has improved, it is unknown at this point if overall human health has improved as well at this point.
Biodiesel has a positive effect on air quality for many reasons.
The carbon intensity of biodiesel continues to improve with developments in efficiency and use of more diverse feedstocks, while the carbon intensity of petroleum fuel continues to worsen due to extraction methods.
Biodiesel also reduces diesel exhaust emissions that are harmful to human health. Health benefits from reducing emissions includes reduced mortality of adults and infants, reduced chronic and acute bronchitis, reduced acute myocardial infarctions, reduced cardiovascular hospital admissions, reduce upper and lower respiratory symptoms and reduced exacerbation of asthma, according to the EPA.
Total, the feedstocks and production technologies used reduce greenhouse gases more than 81% relative to average petroleum diesel.
“Biodiesel’s energy balance has continued to improve over petroleum and now stands at 5.56 units of energy out for every one unit of fossil energy put in to produce it,” said Mike Youngerberg, Executive Director of the Minnesota Biodiesel Council.
Increasing use of biodiesel blends has the same effect as removing cars from the road. To improve air quality, conscious choices must be made everyday to achieve progress. Biodiesel is one step to creating cleaner air for Minnesota.