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Asphalt has been used for thousands of years

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I am writing to you on behalf of the Minnesota Asphalt Pavement Association (MAPA).

MAPA  is a nonprofit trade association which represents individuals, firms and corporations engaged in the manufacture or production of aggregate, asphalt pavement, and/or equipment.

In response to the letter written by Ms. Jane VonRuden published in The Record dated March 17, 2013, and on behalf of the asphalt industry, I would like to address the communities concerns of an asphalt plant in their community.

  • The environmental operations associated with our industry are regulated heavily by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). These governmental agencies are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that workers and the public are protected — and they are. There are very stringent requirements already in place regarding the workplace and asphalt plant operations.
  • On February 12, 2002, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reviewed new air emissions standards and excluded asphalt plants — which are delisted under Title III of the Clean Air Act.
  • Asphalt plants are environmentally sound. Emissions from asphalt plants, including greenhouse gases, are very low and well controlled. Between 1970 to 1999, the asphalt industry decreased total emissions by 97 percent while increasing production by 250 percent. Emissions from asphalt plants are so low that the EPA considers them as low minor sources of industrial activity.
  • In 2009, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an agency of the World Health Organization, completed a massive study of the health of asphalt workers in Europe. The primary finding of this epidemiological study is that there is no evidence of an association between asphalt fumes and lung cancer in workers. The results come on the heels of several research projects that also found no evidence of increased cancer risk.
  • Today, workers’ exposure to asphalt paving fumes is lower than ever and is continually being reduced. Warm mix asphalt, a relatively new technology that is rapidly gaining momentum and use in Minnesota, allows for reduction of temperatures for producing and placing asphalt pavement, and thus emissions are lowered.
  • The asphalt pavement industry and its’ partners continue to improve upon the environmental performance of asphalt products, which is already one of the most sustainable pavement materials on earth. Asphalt pavements are 100 percent recyclable. To learn more, visit http://www.sustainableasphalt.turn-page.com.
  • Based on carbon footprint (total greenhouse gas emissions caused directly and indirectly by a given process, product, or event), it has repeatedly been shown that asphalt production outperforms other pavement types in reducing carbon emissions.
  • Water quality and leachate have also been researched over the years.5,6 Studies show that asphalt pavements and stockpiles of reclaimed asphalt pavement do not leach and are compatible with clean water.
  • Asphalt pavement has been used successfully on a wide range of environmental projects from liners for sensitive fish rearing ponds, domestic water reservoirs, landfill caps, agricultural sites, waterproofing waste sites, industrial sites, etc.
  • Various site plans, national and local, have been approved and implemented regarding any noise concerns. This can be augmented with business hours of operations.
  • Odor is very subjective similar to a position regarding the odor of a leaf compost site, a backyard fire pit, flower blossoms, etc. Our industry is required to be in compliance with state and federal guidelines of site property lines. Approved measures are available.

In summary, asphalt is an environmentally responsible product that humans have used for paving and waterproofing for thousands of years. Asphalt pavements have a very low carbon footprint, are environmentally sound, and they conserve precious natural resources through engineered reuse/recycling measures.

Worldwide, asphalt facilities cohabitate in urban and rural neighborhoods in all types of settings. Because of logistic and cost issues, the end-product itself must be produced locally to all areas served. In general, the majority of asphalt mixture is produced within a few miles of the construction project. Beyond a reasonable distance, cost increases and quality decreases.

For more information on the economics and environmental sustainability of asphalt, visit www.AsphaltIsBest.com or www.AsphaltRoads.org.

Thank you for your time and interest. — Sincerely, Richard O. Wolters, P.E., Executive Director

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