Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (July 12, 2005) –The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) received a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement projects that reduce air toxic emissions in economically disadvantaged areas of Maryland. The areas, termed Environmental Benefits Districts (EBD), are located in Baltimore City and in western Prince George’s County on the Washington, D.C., border. The projects will address emissions from two different sources, small commercial point sources and heavy-duty diesel vehicles.

“It is our goal to reduce exposure to toxic air pollution in these communities,” said MDE Secretary Kendl Philbrick “This partnership with EPA provides us with the opportunity to deliver benefits directly to affected communities and engage them as part of the solution. These air quality improvement projects are an example of the innovative approaches MDE uses to ensure all Marylanders breathe clean air.”

Emissions from small commercial point sources, such as drycleaners, gas stations, auto body shops and printers, come from everyday commercial products, including cleaning solvents, and chemical mixtures. Some of the grant money will pay for environmental education and inspections at such facilities to assure compliance and reduce emissions.

Emissions from the operation and idling of heavy-duty diesel vehicles are also a significant source of air toxics emissions. The remaining grant money will be used to retrofit (purchase and install aftermarket devices that reduce emissions) trash haulers and dump trucks as well as install devices on transit buses that reduce the amount of time the bus idles.

The commercial point source project, which will take place over the course of the summer and fall, intends to reduce emissions by ensuring that facilities comply with regulatory requirements.

The heavy-duty retrofit and idle reduction projects, which will begin later this summer and be complete in early 2006, are intended to educate fleet owners on the health and environmental benefits of reducing diesel emissions. The goal of these projects is to encourage voluntary actions by businesses and fleet owners that have a positive health and environmental outcome for local communities.