Mississippi Experts Say DeSoto County Smog Concerns Unfounded

HERNANDO, MS - DeSoto County's air emissions are slightly higher than federal standards, but it isn't bad enough to put stricter controls in place.

That's what Mississippi pollution expert Maya Rao says.

In December, Shelby County, Tennessee Mayor A.C. Wharton called on the Environmental Protection Agency to declare DeSoto County in violation of air quality standards so it must join other surrounding counties, like Crittendenden County, Arkansas, in stricter pollution-control requirements.

However, Mississippi regulators have said the wind is blowing the opposite direction and DeSoto's pollution is actually coming from Memphis.

Rao, who is the chief of the air division at the Mississippi Dept. of Environmental Quality, yesterday told DeSoto County supervisors that she expects pollution levels to decline this year.

Rao's remarks weren't intended as a response to Wharton but more of a planned update to county officials.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)