Frequently Asked Questions
These are some of the most common questions we get. Click on the question to open up the answer.
If you have a question that isn’t answered below, please get in touch!
What does GASP do?
GASP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to advance healthy air and environmental justice in the Greater-Birmingham area. Our vision is a healthy, just, and sustainable Alabama for everyone who lives, works, learns, and worships here. We strive to reduce air pollution, to educate the public on the health risks associated with poor air quality and to encourage community leaders to serve as role models for clean air and clean energy development. Our work centers around four goals: 1) reducing air pollution, 2) securing environmental justice, 3) promoting clean, renewable energy, and 4) mitigating the effects of climate change in the Birmingham area. Our strategies are education, advocacy, collaboration, and organizing.
Is GASP a law firm? Can you represent me/my family/my community?
No, GASP is not a law firm and we cannot represent individual clients in civil or criminal matters. We utilize the power of the law to advance our strategic objectives, but that does not include private litigation. If you need legal help, please contact your attorney.
What is air pollution?
Isn’t air pollution a lot better than it used to be?
When it comes to air pollution, whose health is at risk?
Children, seniors, pregnant women, and people with heart and lung diseases are the most vulnerable to the devastating health effects of air pollution. Additionally, air pollution concentrations vary widely by community. Black, indigenous, and communities of color, as well as low-income communities, are exposed to disproportionately higher levels of air pollution. This means that air pollution isn’t just a health or environmental issue. It’s also a justice issue.
Is Birmingham’s air quality that bad?
OK, maybe the air quality isn’t perfect but it's improving, right?
I looked up the current air quality where I’m at. It says, “Good.” Does that mean the air I’m breathing is healthy?
The AQI tells you what the overall air quality is in a geographic area based on several pollutants: particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and carbon monoxide (CO). The AQI does not tell you what the exact air quality is where you are.
How are the AQI colors determined?
I don’t see an AQI in my area. Why’s that?
The health department says the plant near my home is “in compliance” with its permit. Does that mean there’s nothing to worry about?
If a plant is adhering to its air permit, doesn’t that mean it’s in compliance with state and federal air pollution regulations.
Wait, I thought I heard the EPA said Birmingham’s air quality was certified as good or “in compliance” with the Clean Air Act now.
OK, so the health department told me all of the plants in my area are in compliance AND Birmingham is in attainment with NAAQS. Does that mean I shouldn’t be concerned about air pollution at all?
Besides manufacturing plants and power plants, are there other sources of air pollution I should be aware of?
What exactly are the health effects of breathing air pollution?
Particle pollution (PM) is one of the most common pollutants and breathing it can cause very serious problems, such as asthma attacks, heart attacks, and strokes.
Exposure to ground-level ozone, another common pollutant, can result in breathing difficulty, asthma attacks, and lung damage. Breathing ozone or PM can even result in death.
There is another category of pollutants called Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) — also known as “air toxics.” These include 187 chemicals and heavy metals (e.g., benzene) that are known or suspected to cause cancer and other very serious health effects.
What air pollutants are covered by the NAAQS and HAPS?
The Clean Air Act has different “technology-based” requirements for HAPs called “National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants” (NESHAP). Under these technology-based requirements, facilities must Install equipment and follow work practices to reduced HAP emissions. The requirements for controlling HAPs are based on particular categories of sources, and not all categories are covered.
HAPs from power plants are regulated under a rule called the “Mercury and Air Toxics Standards,” or MATS.