How Bad is the Air Quality from LNG facilities at Kitimat, the end of the KeyStone XL pipeline?

Kitimat Airshed Emissions Effects Assessment(363 page pdf, Julian Aherne, Susan Barnes, Beth Beaudry, Simon Casley, Hui Cheng, Alexander Hall, Anna Henolson, Daniel Krewski, John Laurence, David Marmorek, Carol Murray, Greg Paoli, Shaun Watmough, prepared by ESSA Technologies Ltd. for British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Apr. 25, 2014)

Also discussed here: New airshed study is a “nail in the coffin” for government LNG dreams in Kitimat(Andrew Weaver, Jul. 18, 2014)

Today we review an environmental impact assessment report prepared for the British Columbian government in anticipation of developments associated with Liquid Natural Gas Terminals that could affect human health and the environment. The developments include an existing aluminum smelter, four proposed LNG terminals, a proposed oil refinery, and gas turbine powered electrical generation facilities, as well as related marine transportation sources. The assessment used a colour-coded system for impacts of air pollution on human health ranging from green for “clean environment” though yellow and orange to red for values that breach the US EPA National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Similarly for natural environmental impacts on vegetation, lakes and soil they range from green for negligible impact through to red where the impact is considered to be “extremely unacceptable”.

The results indicate a red for human health for hourly SO2 and a red for aquatic ecosystems. In the words of Dr. Andrew Weaver, the only member of the provincial parliament with an advanced degree in environmental science, in addition to be a world leader in climate science and modeling “The study undeniably concludes that if you put four LNG plants into Kitimat you will have critical impacts on human health.”.

Nothing more needs to be said …. except STOP.

kitimat cove

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When Do you Become “Old”?

Population ageing: the timebomb that isn’t? (5 page pdf, Jeroen Spijker and John MacInnes, BMJ(British Medical Journal), Nov. 12, 2013)

Today we review a paper about aging and the implications of using a fixed age, such as 65, to indicate when to worry about “old age” diseases, particularly those such as heart and lung diseases that are aggravated by air pollution. The authors contend that the important statistic to use is the years of remaining life expectancy when the average life expectancy in the UK has increased by 34 years, thus moving the yard stick from the pension age of 65 to later. Over time improvements in medical technology and, indirectly in air quality in some places, seniors are living longer which has increased the size of the older generation, while growing obesity has resulted in earlier occurrence of diabetes with negative impacts on life expectancy. It is clear that the dynamics that affect health of the elderly has changed.

old age dependency


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Reporting Local Industrial Air Pollution in Canada’s Largest City

Tracking and Reducing Chemicals in Toronto: Third Annual ChemTRAC Report (David McKeown, Medical Officer of Health, Toronto Board of Health, Jun. 13, 2014)

Also discussed here : ChemTRAC – Improving Toronto’s Air: 2014 Annual Report (David McKeown, Medical Officer of Health, Toronto Board of Health, Jun. 13, 2014)

And here: Toronto Public Health Reveals Local Air Pollution Sources (Jennifer Kalnins Temple, Envirolaw, Jul. 10, 2014)

Today we review the third annual report from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health on the monitoring of local industrial air pollutants, a program (ChemTRAC) that requires local industries to emissions of 25 specific pollutants- the top three of which are VOCs, NOx and PM2.5. The Health Board estimates that of the 1300 deaths caused by air pollution each year, local industry is responsible for 120, in addition to 200 hospitalizations. This not only underlines the importance of the program but also allows for identification of sources of health risks not previously defined- the mercury releases from incineration of human remains at crematoria for example- and allows companies to take measure to reduce the release of critical pollutants. A large majority (90%) of the reporting companies found the ChemTRAC program helpful and 2/3s found that the program helped them to reduce harmful emissions The only question one might ask- why is this not required in other cities, especially large ones with industrial pollution within their boundaries?

map of toronto air poll sources

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What is the Next Biggest Environmental Health Problem After Air Pollution?

Lessening the Severe Health Effects of Traffic Noise in Cities by Emission Reductions (28 page pdf, Tor Kihlman, Wolfgang Kropp, and William Lang, The CAETS Noise Control Technology Committee and the International Institute of Noise Control Engineering, May 2014)

Also discussed here: Traffic noise is dangerous for your health: Solutions exist for dense cities (ScienceDaily, Jul.1, 2014)

Today we review a report that looks at the second biggest environmental cause of health problems after air pollution, noise. As with air pollution, the single biggest source is road traffic from the interaction between tires and pavement or “rolling noise”. Solutions call for “quiet pavements” and improved design of tires although the authors report that present regulations and that most actions by government and industry fall well short of solving the problem. An interesting point was made about safety concerns about electric cars being too quiet to the point that government wants to require noise emitters – a step that is seen as unnecessary and counterproductive. Again, as with air pollution, an effective solution is to reduce roads traffic by promoting quiet forms of transportation, such as walking and cycling. Steps to reduce road noise would also benefit efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and climate change impacts.

noise in cities

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How Can Green and Cool (light-coloured) Roofs Mitigate Urban Heating?

The effectiveness of cool and green roofs as urban heat island mitigation strategies (17 page pdf, Dan Li, Elie Bou-Zeid and Michael Oppenheimer, Environmental Research Letters, May 2, 2014)

Today we review research on the urban heat island effect and how green roofs and high albedo “cool” roofs may be used to mitigate the amount of heating – which is becoming an even more important aspect, as global climate warming continues to increase the frequency and severity of heat waves in cities with the resultant growing impact on health. Results of the modeling show that over 90% of the roofs have to be green or cool in order to reduce the average air temperature by 0.5 C. Also, the soil moisture is critical for green roofs as dry soil has minimal effect on cooling.

green roofs

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, click HERE

What Should Cities do to Protect Themselves against Climate Impacts?

Learning with practitioners: climate change adaptation priorities in a Canadian community (17 page pdf, Ian M. Picketts & John Curry & Stephen J. Déry & Stewart J. Cohen, Climatic Change, Dec. 14, 2012)
Today we review a study that describes the steps by a small mountain town in northern British Columbia to produce a substantive climate adaptation plan- which is unusual for many Canadian towns and cities (and perhaps in other countries) where climate change is approached only in a conceptual or general way and rarely is the local community engaged in defining the threats and solutions. The authors emphasize the need to first assess past climatic events, then engage the community through better communications and partnerships, shift from general concepts of climate impacts to specific detailed assessments, and then link the solutions to other policies and plans while keeping communities informed throughout. The Prince George example needs to be replicated in other communities with local impacts brought in.

climate adaptation prince george

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How Will Climate Change Affect Storm Rainfall?

Heavier summer downpours with climate change revealed by weather forecast resolution model (Abstract, Elizabeth J. Kendon, Nigel M. Roberts, Hayley J. Fowler, Malcolm J. Roberts, Steven C. Chan & Catherine A. Senior, Nature Climate Change | Letter, Jun. 1. 2014)
Also discussed here: Climate change to boost summer flash floods, says study (Matt McGrath, BBC news, Jun. 1, 2014)
Today we review an article that describes nine months of simulations with the British supercomputer normally used for numerical weather prediction but using a much finer 1.5 km resolution, instead of the normal 12 km grid and using the IPCC scenario for rapid climate warming. The results indicate, not unexpectedly, that the added moisture in warmer air masses during summer would produce more intense rainfall rates than at present and as much as five times more heavy rainfalls – even though the summer total rainfall, as a whole, would likely be drier. The apparently contradictory conclusion reveals what many people who do not look at rainfall statistics might find surprising- that very heavy rainfall (say over 10-20 mm/day) only occurs once or twice a month at places not subject to ocean storms or storms enhanced by mountains (such as Argentina/Colombia for example).

The accumulated monthly total depends not only on the heavy rain days but also on the number of many light rain or drizzle days. In this case, it appears that there might be an increase in the number of heavy rain days and a decrease in the lighter ones – which is the scenario expected when you shift from many overcast “drizzly” days to a few thunderstorm days. This fits well with the scenarios that scientists in Europe, the US and Canada have been predicting in general terms for decades from computerized climate models with coarser resolution– more convective storms because of hotter surface temperatures and heavier amounts because of the added moisture in the air. This computer experiment now confirms these estimates with more precision and suggests that flood authorities in other countries take note, not just those in the UK.

uk floods

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, click HERE


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