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 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 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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How Does Early Action to Cut Carbon Emissions Reduce Impacts from Climate Change?

Differential climate impacts for policy-relevant limits to global warming: the case of 1.5 _C and 2 _C (25 page pdf,Carl-Friedrich Schleussner, Tabea K. Lissner, Erich M. Fischer, Jan Wohland, Mahé Perrette, Antonius Golly, Joeri Rogelj, Katelin Childers, Jacob Schewe, Katja Frieler, Matthias Mengel, William Hare, and Michiel Schaeffer, Earth System Dynamics, Apr. 21, 2016)

Also discussed here: 1.5°C vs 2°C: Why half a degree matters (Newsletter, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Apr. 21, 2016)

Today we review research using scenarios with global climate models that show the difference in impacts from limiting global warming to 1.5 deg C or to 2.0 deg C by taking action to reduce carbon emissions and how quickly this is done. Many authoritative sources from COP 21 in Paris indicated that unless cuts of the order of 50% are taken within a decade (2025) that the 1.5 deg goal will be breached and unless the cuts reach 100% by 2050 that the 2 deg goal is probably unachievable. The paper examines the consequences of taking action too slowly or to a less than acceptable degree.

The impacts affect the length of heat waves (lasting 2 months more for 1.5C or 3 months for 2C), water availability, sea level rise, coral reefs and reduced crop yields. Perhaps the largest impact, sea level rise, has the largest implications because the processes involved in melting ice sheets are so large and slow moving. Once the Greenland ice sheet begins to breakdown, sea level rises of 5-7 m are inevitable over centuries with warming over 2C and will accelerate beyond 2100, while early action to limit warming to 1.5C would limit the sea level rise to 40 cm. Clearly policy makers at both the international and national/subnational levels need to step up to the challenge and soon.

2 deg climate impacts

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What Are the Health Impacts from Urban Building Demolitions?

Ambient exposure to coarse and fine particle emissions from building demolition (Abstract, Farhad Azarmi & Prashant Kumar , Atmospheric Environment, Apr. 22, 2016)
Today we review research into the dispersion of fine particles, including Aluminum(Al), silicate(Si) Zinc (Zn) and Magnesium (Mg), from a building demolition in London, UK, using a dispersion model that took into account windspeed and direction,  decay over time and distance from the site. Demolition of buildings is expected to increase significantly, as a result of a 60% greater urban population over the next two decades, in addition to newer urban design forms and technologies.

The exposure to the particles noted above are linked to lung and kidney (renal) diseases, greater mortality and cardiovascular and Alzheimer diseases. Results indicate that concentrations of particulate matter (PM1, PM2.5 and PM 10) downwind of the demolition site is 4 to 11 times (respectively) greater than background levels, Males near or in the site inhale more dust than females and thus have a higher health risk. One could expect similar impacts from the digging of roads and construction of tunnels and ditches for Light and Heavy Rail Transit in large cities, currently in progress and planned for cities such as Toronto and Ottawa.

demolition pm graph
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What is the Risk of Cancer from Exposure to Particulate Matter?

Cancer Mortality Risks from Long-term Exposure to Ambient Fine Particle (Abstract, Chit Ming Wong, Hilda Tsang, Hak Kan Lai, G. Neil Thomas, Kin Bong Lam, King Pan Chan, Qishi Zheng, Jon G. Ayres, Siu Yin Lee, Tai Hing Lam, and Thuan Quoc Thach. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev, Feb. 22, 2016)
Also discussed here: Exposure to particulate air pollutants associated with numerous cancers (ScienceDaily, Apr. 29, 2016)

Today we review research that looks at the impact of fine particulates on health, specifically on the risk of cancer, based on 10 years of exposure to this pollution for a large sample of older people (older than 65), living in an urban environment (Hong Kong). Results indicate for every 10 µg/m³ increase in exposure, the risk of dying by cancer goes up by 35% for men (mainly in the digestive tract) and for women the risk of mortality because of breast cancer goes up by 80%. The authors caution that more research is needed to look at the link between cancer other air pollutants in combination with particulate matter.

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Do Wind Turbines Really Impact the Health of Nearby Residents?

Wind turbines and idiopathic symptoms: The confounding effect of concurrent environmental exposures (Abstract, Victoria Blanes-Vidal,  Joel Schwartz, Neurotoxicology and Teratology, Apr. 18, 2016)

Today we review research conducted in Denmark, the world’s leader in the use of wind turbines to generate electricity with over 39% of its power generated this way in 2014 and over 5,000 wind turbines located on or offshore. The purpose of the study was to assess the relationship between direct and indirect impacts on health of residents living near the turbines (mean distance to the closest turbine to a house was 2 km). Results indicate no significant relationship with turbine proximity and direct health effects, except for a significant indirect association with wind noise and annoyance, which is one of several “confounding” factors that may be caused other noise sources (such as nearby traffic or indoor odours resulting from less ventilation and fresh air with the windows closed to keep out the noise).

English: Taken by Neutronic

English: Taken by Neutronic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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