EPA report targets urban air pollution

A new report from the federal Environmental Protection Agency says that air pollution in Hennepin and Ramsey counties is higher than in the rest of Minnesota.

The EPA says air pollution is responsible for an additional 40 to 50 cancer deaths annually in Hennepin and Ramsey counties. Those are deaths that wouldn't have happened without the pollution.

Communities in several states have much higher rates.

Research scientist Greg Pratt of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said most pollution now comes from the things most of us do every day.

"They burn fuels, they drive cars and other vehicles, and they use consumer products, all of these types of activities release air pollutants," Pratt said.

Pratt said car exhaust is of particular concern.

"We are breathing relatively raw exhaust," he said. "Human beings walking down the street or in their vehicles in traffic are getting this exhaust within feet of the vehicle as it passes by us, it's thought now that that might be some of the more dangerous pollutants."

He said the metro area is creating more mass transit options, which should reduce pollution.

Other sources of pollution include furnaces, lawn mowers, and gas stations.