Tag: Nitrogen oxide

EU warns of persistent air quality violations

5 countries now on notice face potential legal action

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Clouds and haze over Vienna, Austria, where particulate air pollution often exceeds standards set to protect human health. @bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

Five large EU countries are on warning after repeatedly failing to meet air pollution  standards for nitrogen oxide, a precursor to smog and a serious health risk in and of itself. If Member States fail to act within two months, the Commission may decide to take the matter to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Studies have shown that more than 400,000 people die prematurely each year due to poor air quality, while millions more suffer from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Persistently high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) caused almost 70 000 premature deaths in Europe in 2013, which was almost three times the number of deaths by road traffic accidents in the same year.

Because of the persistent breaches, the European Commission this week sent final warning to  Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom, urging those countries to improve air quality and safeguard public health.

Continue reading “EU warns of persistent air quality violations”

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Environment: $160 million cleanup ordered at coal-burning, pollution-spewing Four Corners power plant

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New pollution controls will cut emissions at the Four Corners power plant.

Settlement includes requirements for regional public health and environmental mitigation projects

Staff Report

FRISCO — One of the dirtiest coal-burning power plants in the country will be required to upgrade pollution controls, cutting thousands of tons of harmful sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions.

The $160 million cleanup at the Four Corners Power Plant, located on the Navajo Nation near Shiprock, New Mexico, comes under a court-ordered Clean Air Act settlement between the EPA and several Arizona and New Mexico-based utility companies.

The total combined emission reductions secured from the settlement will exceed 2 million tons each year, once all the required pollution controls are installed and implemented. Continue reading “Environment: $160 million cleanup ordered at coal-burning, pollution-spewing Four Corners power plant”

Unregulated ammonia emissions from agriculture seen as environmental threat in national parks

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A new study says trees in some national parks in the U.S. are already being damaged by deposition of ammonia and nitrogen compounds stemming from agriculture.

Depositions already exceeding critical thresholds in some parks

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — From the high country of the Pacific Northwest to the hardwood forests of New England, airborne deposition of ammonia and nitrogen are already taking a toll on national parks.

In Great Smoky Mountain National Park, for example, the amount of nitrogen being deposited per hectare already far exceeds the threshold that causes damage, according to a study led by Harvard University scientists.

Hardwood trees start to suffer when nitrogen deposition reaches approximately 3 to 8 kilograms per hectare, per year. According to the new study, the actual rate of deposition is about 13.6 kilograms per hectare, per year. In the forests of Mount Rainier National Park, it’s the lichens that suffer first as the critical limit is passed. Continue reading “Unregulated ammonia emissions from agriculture seen as environmental threat in national parks”

Environment: Trees cause pollution — but not on their own

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Isoprene, a chemical emitted by trees interacts with manmade nitrogen oxides to create particulate pollution. Bob Berwyn photo.

Tree chemicals combine with nitrogen oxides to form potentially dangerous particulates

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — President Ronald Reagan might have been on to something when he infamously claimed that trees cause pollution. While he was widely ridiculed for his statement, scientists later confirmed that a certain chemical emitted by trees also contributes to the production of particulate matter in the atmosphere.

The chemical in question is isoprene, an abundant molecule in the air that protects leaves from oxygen damage and temperature fluctuations. But those chemical processes have not been well understood, so researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill set out to look for answers. Continue reading “Environment: Trees cause pollution — but not on their own”