Microspatial Hotspot Variability of Urban Air Pollution

Use of an exposure model to explore the impact of residential proximity to a highway on exposures to air pollutants of an ambient origin (Abstract, Woodrow Pattinson , John Langstaff, Ian Longley, Simon Kingham, Atmospheric Environment, May 2016)

Today we review research into the distribution of air pollution at a higher resolution than many urban studies, looking at how it changes during the day and within neighbourhoods and between streets in New Zealand’s capital city of Auckland. Fixed air monitoring stations either close to traffic or away from it tend to miss high resolution pollution hotspots both in time and space. In this study, a specially instrumented bicycle was used to measure carbon monoxide (CO) and particulate matter (PM10) over different times of the day and for different streets in an area that was subdivided by a highway with traffic. Results indicated that while emissions from highway traffic dominated the morning rush hour, that the queued stop and go nature of street level pollution reached a peak during the mid-day and afternoon. Studies such as this need to be considered for the placement of populations whose health is at risk due to air pollution, such as early childhood centres and the elderly in retirement homes (which should be separated by at least 100 m from major roads).

bycycle AQ monitoring

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What Impact Do Local Emission Controls have on Air Pollution?

Response of SO2 and particulate air pollution to local and regional emission controls: A case study in Maryland (16 page pdf, Hao He, Konstantin Y. Vinnikov, Can Li, Nickolay A. Krotkov, Andrew R. Jongeward, Zhanqing Li, JeffreyW. Stehr, Jennifer C. Hains, and Russell R. Dickerson, Earth’s Future, AGU, Apr. 12, 2016)

Today we review the changes that emission controls implemented in the state of Maryland with the Healthy Air Act in 2009, had on the concentration of SO2 and PM2.5 using measurements from satellites in space as well as ground measurements over the last 10 years. Results indicate that emissions from (coal burning) power plants were reduced by 90% while concentrations of SO2 were reduced by 50% and PM2.5 by 25%- with all of the decline of PM2.5 due to a reduction in sulphur. Results were striking in the decrease of the seasonal peak of SO2 in mid summer when there is a higher power demand. The difference between the greater SO2 emission reduction  and concentration reductions shows the added input to the pollution from other than power plants (such as diesel vehicle emissions).

local emission controls

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What Links Urban Metabolic Energy Flows and Urban Ecosystems – a literature review.

Eight energy and material flow characteristics of urban ecosystems (12 page pdf, Xuemei Bai, Ambio, Apr. 22, 2016)

Today we examine a review of current literature about two apparently conflicting urban concepts: one that is concerned with the material energy flows, the other with the ecology of wildlife and plants in a city environment. As cities become more complex and larger these concepts become more important in themselves, as well as between each other with intercity distributions and the regulation of processes across large urban areas and estimating the capacity of a city when to comes to the flow of materials, such as waste Approaching cities in this way also allows for a better defined environmental footprint, as demonstrated in one example in Barcelona, where a park designed for carbon sequestration was found after analysis to be one twelve the size needed to produce the desired absorption of carbon emissions from the city. The concluding words are worth noting: “A better understanding of the interactions between anthropogenic material and energy flows and ecosystem processes can help reduce unintended consequences of narrowly focused policy and management decisions.”

urban metabolism

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What is the Impact of Hydraulic Fracturing?

Fracking Communities (22 page pdf, Colin Jerolmack and Nina Berman, Climate Change and the Future of Cities: Mitigation, Adaptation, and Social Change on an Urban Planet, Public Culture, Duke University Press, May 2, 2016)

Also discussed here: Fracking Hits Milestone as Natural Gas Use Rises in U.S. (Bobby Magill, Climate Central, May 6, 2016)
Today we review an article that chronicles the impact fracking has and is having on rural communities and the natural forests and parks that lie among them. Although fracking natural gas (and closing coal plants) has been credited with the 12% reduction in CO2 in the USA from 2007 to 2012, the process involves over 1,000 truckloads of water for just one well and 1,020 shale wells have been approved in Pennsylvania alone. More than 15 million Americans in 11 states live within a mile of a fracked well. New York is the only state where municipal bans are legal. As methane is 20 times more radiatively active in the atmosphere than CO2, leaks of more than 3% from a well eliminate the greenhouse gas benefit that methane enjoys over emissions from coal.

fracking traffic

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How Could the USA Become Carbon Neutral by 2050?

100% clean and renewable wind, water, and sunlight (WWS) all-sector energy roadmaps for the 50 United States (Abstract, Mark Z. JacobsonMark A. Delucchi, Guillaume BazouinZack A. F. BauerChrista C. Heavey,   Emma Fisher, Sean B. MorrisDiniana J.Y.Piekutowski, Taylor A. Vencill and Tim W.Yeskoo, Energy and Environmental Science, May 27, 2015

Also discussed here:   Here’s what it would take for the US to run on 100% renewable energy (David Roberts, Vox Energy and Environment, May 3, 2016)

Today we review a report that details how the USA could reach 100% renewable energy sources by 2050 and what cost and benefits would be needed to accomplish that. 80-85% of existing carbon energy sources would be replaced by 2030 and the rest by 2050 with 49% wind power, 45% solar power and the remainder hydroelectric, geothermal, tidal and wave power. Benefits include $7.1 trillion per year in avoided climate impact losses due to US emissions and $600 billion per year in avoided health costs. The approach includes more emphasis on public transit and safer walking and cycling, mandating battery electric vehicles for short and medium distance driving, an expansion in the number and distribution of electric charging sites as well as a time of use that favours night time charging, and electrification of freight rail.


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All about Carbon Pricing: Carbon Tax? Cap and Trade?

Putting a Price on Carbon: A Handbook for U.S. Policymakers (56 Page pdf, Kevin Kennedy, Michael Obeiter, And Noah Kaufman, World Resources Institute, Apr. 2015

Today we review a handbook to implement carbon pricing– either by tax or by cap and trade– in the USA. Among the points noted were that a low to moderate tax alone would be “highly unlikely” to meet the UN’s goal of keeping global warming to less than 2 C (as recommended by 195 states at COP21 in Paris). Technological innovations subsidized by government are also needed and these can be funded from carbon tax revenue as well as other benefits such as tax cuts, return of money to households and electric users, and helping those directly harmed by carbon taxes as well as reducing national debt. Canada and the USA are well behind Scandinavian countries (such as Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, beginning in the early 1990s)  to establish a national carbon tax, although at the sub-national level,  California and Western states, British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec have started to price carbon in recent years. Another interesting point is that a moderate carbon tax of $28/tonne applied to the USA would impact low income earners by 2.5% (and high earners by only 1%). This identifies the need to neutralize the regression effects by subsidizing the low income group by this amount.

carbon pricing basics

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How Does Stress Add to Health Impacts of Air Pollution?

A Framework for Examining Social Stress and Susceptibility to Air Pollution in Respiratory Health (8 page pdf Jane E. Clougherty, Laura D. Kubzansky, Environmental Health Perspectives, Sep. 2009)

Also discussed here:EPA Workshop on Interactions between Social Stressors and Environmental Hazards (Abstracts, Environmental Protection Agency, Sep. 19, 2012)

And here: London parents see toxic air as ‘the biggest health threat to their children (Nicholas Cecil , Evening Standard, Mar. 21, 2016)
Today we examine a literature review into the links between psychological stresses and air pollution. Historically studies have shown that asthma is exacerbated when a person is also exposed to traffic related air pollution. Some air pollutants affect oxidative stress and cell production. Stress also may affect the permeability of bodily membranes to allow greater chemical uptake by organs including the brain. Roadway noise causes higher stress and depression as well as a higher heart rate for those who live near traffic.

stress and aq in london

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