Posted on January 11, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Open burning of trash, as seen here in General Santos, Philippines, is a global phenomenon that has significant effects on air quality. Photo courtesy Global Environment Facility.
‘Air pollution across much of the globe is significantly underestimated because no one is tracking open-fire burning of trash’
FRISCO — As much as 1 billion metric tons of waste, including discarded plastics and electronics, is burned each year in unregulated fires, according to atmospheric scientists who set out last year to assess the impacts of trash burning.
The real amount of garbage that’s simply burned in the open probably far exceeds any official government estimates, the researchers said, adding that the practice exposes people to toxic fumes and adds to air pollution woes, especially in developing countries.
The estimate tonnage is about 41 percent of the total annual global waste stream, the study found, providing estimates, on a country-by-country basis, of pollutants such as particulates, carbon monoxide, and mercury that are emitted by the fires. Continue reading
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Posted on January 5, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
New York smog.
New standards eyed to protect public health
FRISCO — The public will have a chance to weigh in on a proposed EPA rule to cut smog at three public hearings set for late January and early February.
In November, the agency unveiled its proposal to lower the standard from 75 parts per billion to as low as 60 ppb. The Clean Air Act requires EPA to review the standards every five years by following a set of open, transparent steps and considering the advice of a panel of independent experts. EPA last updated these standards in 2008, setting them at 75 ppb. Continue reading
Filed under: air quality, Environment | Tagged: air quality, Environment, EPA ozone rule, EPA smog rule public hearings, EPA smog standards, smog | Leave a comment »
Posted on December 2, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
A NASA satellite image shows air pollution along the East Coast and over the Atlantic.
New rule would more than pay for itself in health care savings
FRISCO — As more and more studies show the harmful health effects of smog, or ground-level ozone, the EPA wants to set new standards to help clean up the air.
Last week the agency unveiled its proposal to lower the standard from 75 parts per billion to as low as 60 ppb, pending completion of a review and comment period, including public hearings.
The Clean Air Act requires EPA to review the standards every five years by following a set of open, transparent steps and considering the advice of a panel of independent experts. EPA last updated these standards in 2008, setting them at 75 ppb. Continue reading
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Posted on November 10, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Ozone damage on the leaf of a cutleaf coneflower manifests in the form of black stipules. Photo courtesy RMNP.
New study projects mid-century air quality under various global warming scenarios
FRISCO — Even with ongoing efforts to improve air quality, global warming could drive ozone levels high enough to cause widespread damage to plants by mid-century, according to a new study that focused on the U.S. but also considered global air quality.
“Modelling future air quality is very complex, because so many factors need to be taken into account at both a global and local scale,” said Dr. Val Martin, of the University of Sheffield’s Faculty of Engineering. Continue reading
Filed under: air quality, climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: air quality, climate change, global warming, ozone | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 21, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
EPA challenged on decision to designate polluted region as unclassifiable
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Environmental advocates and the EPA are facing off in a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. today over air quality in Utah’s remote Uinta Basin, where ozone levels often exceed standards set to protect human health.
In a weird twist to the case, the fossil fuel industry is claiming that its own air pollution data is of poor quality and unreliable, and shouldn’t be used by the EPA to designate the Uinta Basin as a nonattainment area, despite the fact that the area regularly sees some of the highest ozone pollution levels in the country.
At issue in the oral arguments is the EPA’s refusal to designate the Uinta Basin as a nonattainment area despite monitoring showing serious air quality degradation in northeastern Utah. The EPA’s decision to designate the area as unclassifiable is a clear violation of the Clean Air Act, according to WildEarth Guardians, one of the groups involved in the case. Continue reading
Filed under: air quality, energy, Environment, fracking, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: air pollution, air quality, fracking, oil and gas drilling, ozone, public health, Uinta Basin | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 14, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Study shows how cutting carbon pollution pays huge dvidends by reducing health care costs.
‘Carbon-reduction policies significantly improve air quality’
FRISCO — Adopting a carbon cap-and-trade program would easily pay for itself — and then some — by reducing health care costs associated with treating asthma and other medical conditions resulting from air pollution, MIT researchers said in a detailed study that looked at the comparative cost and benefits of three potential climate policies.
Policies aimed at cutting carbon emissions from sources like power plants and vehicles, also lead to reductions in other harmful types of air pollution, the scientists said, publishing their findings last month in Nature Climate Change.
Overall, the study found that savings on health care spending and other costs related to illness can be big — in some cases, more than 10 times the cost of policy implementation. Continue reading
Filed under: air quality, climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: air quality, carbon pollution, global warming, health, health care costs | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 1, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Oil and gas drillers must to more to protect the airsheds they operate in.
Air quality worsening in rural areas affected by fracking
FRISCO — Dangerously high levels of winter ozone pollution in parts of Utah can be traced directly to chemicals released into the air by oil and gas exploration. The volatile organic compounds, common byproducts of fossil fuel exploitation, get trapped under atmospheric inversion layers and sunlight reflected by snow sparks the chemical process that forms the corrosive gas.
For example, in 2013, ozone in Ouray, Utah, exceeded the national air quality standards 49 times during the winter season. By contrast, in the densely populated, urban area of Riverside, California, the standards were exceeded about half that amount that same year, but during the summer. Continue reading
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