Minnesota breathes easier after 10 years with biodiesel standard

By The American Lung Association in Minnesota | April 06, 2016

Minnesota’s commitment to biodiesel use has paid off with an important impact on air quality, according to an analysis of the cleaner-burning fuel by the American Lung Association in Minnesota. 

“I think the amount of air pollution we are preventing right now by blending biodiesel into traditional petroleum diesel would surprise many people,” said Robert Moffitt, director of media relations for ALAMN. “For example, we estimate the summer and winter blends used in Minnesota prevent 130 tons of particulate matter, 319 tons of hydrocarbon and 2,634 tons of carbon monoxide emissions from entering our air every year.”

Particulate pollution can cause wheezing, coughing and respiratory irritation, and exposure may trigger asthma attacks. Exposure to particulates is especially harmful to those with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

ALAMN also found that during the 10-year period with biodiesel as a fuel standard for Minnesota, the state has realized a reduction of more than 7.4 billion pounds, or 3.7 million tons, of carbon dioxide emissions.

The current use of winter 5 percent (B5) and summer 10 percent (B10) blends, Moffitt said, is equal to removing 128,000 passenger vehicles from Minnesota’s roads each year.

“While the newer diesel engines have sophisticated emissions control features, it will still be many years before all of the diesel engines in use have them,” said Moffitt. “As our understanding of the health effects of air pollution improves, federal air quality standards get tougher. That’s exactly how the Clean Air Act was meant to work, and with some help from cleaner fuels like biodiesel, all of Minnesota’s counties currently meet federal air quality standards.”

In 2014, Minnesota became the first state in the nation to require 10 percent biodiesel, or B10, in diesel blends sold during the summer months. B10 is required from April 1 to Sept. 30 and B5 is required during the remaining winter months.

“Biodiesel blends are easy to find in Minnesota—they can be found at every retailer with a diesel fuel pump,” said Moffitt. “They are also easy to use, requiring no special engines or modifications. It will work just as well in an older diesel engine as in a brand new truck, many of which are factory-approved for blends up to 20 percent.”

For more information, visit www.biodiesel.mn.

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