Category: air quality

Sunday set: From Above

‘Comin’ into London from over the Pole …’

A few more aerial shots left over in the Summit Voice archives, a little reminder (to myself) that airplane travel is a high-carbon activity. The world’s airlines are trying to grapple with the climate cost of their emissions, but so far, they have not made much progress, as you can read in this series of Summit Voice stories. Right now, the status is that an international air industry group is trying to develop its own self-policing scheme in order to avoid government regulations, but that effort is falling well short of what environmentalists want. The EPA is obligated under the Clean Air Act, to do something, but is moving much to slow. As a result, there’s a (big surprise) lawsuit to force the issue. Before any of that is resolved, air travelers always have the option of offsetting the carbon impacts of their own trip at Climate Care and other similar websites.

Colorado just can’t get a grip on its smog problem

State  fails to meet EPA standard set to protect public health; ozone problems to worsen with global warming

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State regulators have left children, the elderly and asthmatics vulnerable to potentially deadly levels of ozone. Photo courtesy NREL.

By Bob Berwyn

The modest steps taken by Colorado to try and improve air quality along the Front Range aren’t enough, according to the EPA. This week, the federal agency said the state has failed to meet air quality standards set to protect public health.

In a Federal Register Notice, the EPA designated the Denver-Boulder-Greeley-Fort Collins-Loveland corridor as a nonattainment area because it didn’t meet the federal limits for ground-level ozone, the key ingredient of smog. Under the Clean Air Act, the state was required to bring the Front Range into compliance with smog limits by July of 2015.  Colorado failed to meet this deadline. Continue reading “Colorado just can’t get a grip on its smog problem”

Michigan eyes climate-related public health threats

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Along with many other states across the northern tier, Michigan just experienced one of its warmest winters on record.

Officials prep for impacts to vulnerable populations

Staff Report

Michigan residents are likely to face a growing range of climate-related threats in coming decades, including respiratory diseases, heat-related illnesses and water- and vector-borne diseases, according to a new report from university researchers and state health officials.

Overall, the experts said that changing climate conditions like warmer temperatures and more frequent big rainstorms are an emerging public health threat in the state, where the average temperature has increased by anywhere from 0.6 to 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit since 1951. Average annual precipitation has increased by 4.5 percent during that period. Continue reading “Michigan eyes climate-related public health threats”

Global warming will lead to spike in ozone pollution

Western U.S. Counties Violating Current and Proposed Ozone Air Quality Standards.
Western U.S. Counties Violating Current and Proposed Ozone Air Quality Standards. A new study suggests even more spikes in dangerous ozone levels as global temperatures increase. Map courtesy WildEarth Guardians.

New study tracks dangerous public health threat posed by rising temps

Staff Report

Along with catastrophic heatwaves, flooding and droughts, greenhouse gas emissions are likely to result in a big spike in the number of days when air quality is impaired by ozone, according to a new study from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Left unchecked, global warming could lead to between three and nine additional days per year of unhealthy ozone levels by 2050, the researchers found.

“In the coming decades, global climate change will likely cause more heat waves during the summer, which in turn could cause a 70 to 100 percent increase in ozone episodes, depending on the region,” said Lu Shen, first author and graduate student at SEAS. Continue reading “Global warming will lead to spike in ozone pollution”

Highway air pollution still a big public health threat

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Air quality near major roads is still harming the lung function of children. @bberwyn photo.

Kids living close to highways suffer from reduced lung function

Staff Report

Despite increased efforts to control pollution from vehicles and industrial sources, young children are still being exposed to harmful levels of particulates that impair lung function.

A long-term health study shows that, by age eight, the lung function of children living within 100 meters of a major roadway was on average 6 percent lower than that of children living 400 meters or more away.

The study was one of the first to examine childhood exposure to air pollution after big improvements to urban air quality in the 1990s, explained lead author Dr. Mary B. Rice. The findings are published the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care, a journal of the American Thoracic Society. Continue reading “Highway air pollution still a big public health threat”

EPA faces lawsuit over failure to regulate aircraft emissions

Aerial view of Heathrow Airport
A lawsuit seeks to force the EPA to set standards for airline emissions. @bberwyn photo.

Environmental groups fed up with agency foot-dragging

Staff Report

With the airline industry and the EPA dragging their feet on limiting greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft, environmental groups this week decided to press the issue in court.

The lawsuit, filed by Earthjustice on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, accuses the EPA of violating the Clean Air Act by unreasonably delaying action on airline emissions. Continue reading “EPA faces lawsuit over failure to regulate aircraft emissions”

EU air quality regulations save thousands of lives each year

Cutting pollution improves public health

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Staff Report

People everywhere like to complain about excessive government regulation, and the European Union is no exception. But it’s clear, from a new University of Leeds study, that air quality rules in the EU have saved thousands of lives in recent decades.

The research, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, shows that EU policies have led to a 35 percent reduction of fine particles in the atmosphere over the period 1970 to 2010, which has improved public health across Europe, preventing about 80,000 premature deaths each year. Continue reading “EU air quality regulations save thousands of lives each year”