Letter to the editor: Recycling is better

Maggie Ryan and Henna Chou

The Ames electric power plant has recently been placed under scrutiny after a study alleging that dioxin emissions from the plant have contaminated the food and resources in Nunavut, a northern province of Canada.

After learning of the study by the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation that named Ames as one of the top 10 contributing polluters, the City of Ames denied the accusation saying the Ames plant does not release the carcinogenic chemical into the air.

Dioxins are released through combustion of bleached paper products and plastics. The plant takes garbage and removes metals, but saves paper, cardboard, packaging materials (including plastics) and other trash to be added to coal to be burned.

According to Clare Bills, public relations officer for the power plant, dioxins are not released into the atmosphere because of the high temperature at which the 10 percent – 90 percent garbage to coal mixture is burned.

Although the plant regularly monitors their emissions for SO2, NOx and particulate matter, emissions are not regularly tested for dioxin concentrations and have not been since five years after the plant was opened. Tests done 15 years ago disputing the release of dioxin cannot be assumed valid today. Considering the substantial amount of plastic that is included in garbage today, regular dioxin testing should be a priority.

To guarantee no high concentrations of dioxins are emitted into the atmosphere, the Ames plant should instigate a dioxin study by at least two independent sources.

Ames should not be so hasty in demanding an apology until they have the data to back up their claims.

Recycling materials that contribute to dioxin release and using natural paper products are to keep carcinogenic emissions out of the atmosphere.

Because there is no inexpensive, convenient recycling in Ames unless you live on campus, most people will continue to throw these reusable items away. Ames and Iowa State need to improve the recycling situation so we can catch up with the rest of America and start making a difference at home.

Maggie Ryan


Environmental Science


Student Environmental Council Recycling Campaign

Henna Chou


Environmental science


Student Environmental Council Recycling Campaign