Archive | Policies & Solutions

NYC: Bad Summer Air, Manhattan, Highways

NEW YORK, Aug. 17 (UPI) — Four major air pollutants are heavily concentrated in high-traffic areas in Manhattan and along highways during the summer in New York, health officials say.

However, the New York City Community Air Survey shows ozone concentrations — resulting from chemical reactions among other pollutants, such as nitrogen oxide, in the presence of sunlight — were highest in downwind suburban locations, such as the Rockaways and lower Staten Island.

“It’s important to remember that all New Yorkers have a stake in improving the city’s air quality,” Dr. Thomas Farley, city health commissioner, says in a statement. “Exposure to the pollutants evaluated in this report can cause grave health problems, including cardiovascular and lung diseases and premature death. This study reiterates the need to switch to more fuel-efficient cars, reduce car traffic, and increase use of public transportation.”

The air survey shows the four major pollutants — carbon, nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide and ozone — are heavily concentrated in high-traffic areas such as Midtown and Lower Manhattan and areas of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island that run along busy highways.

The fine-particle pollutants can penetrate deep into the lungs, causing inflammation of the airways, exacerbating lung and heart disease, health officials say.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Cars, Other, Ozone, Transportation0 Comments

Study: Better Pollution Measuring a Must

BOULDER, Colo., Aug. 11 (UPI) — Pollution produced by the petroleum industry has fallen in recent years, a study says, but a big hurdle remains in accurately measuring the improvement.

Researchers with the University of Colorado at Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say the industry still significantly underestimates the amounts of reactive chemicals being released into the air, a university release said Wednesday.

Inaccuracies in the reporting of levels pose big challenges for the reduction and regulation of emissions coming from petrochemical plants, they say.

“Emissions may have decreased some, but there’s still a long way to go,” study author Joost de Gouw, an atmospheric scientist, says. “And the emission inventories by industry were not any better in 2006 than they were in 2000.”

States that suffer from ozone problems are required by the federal government to scientifically model what happens during air pollution episodes and develop plans for mitigation.

For that to happen effectively, modelers need good inventories, the researchers say.

“Initial inventories are not based on measurements. They’re based on estimates,” de Gouw says. “When you go back to verify those estimates, we find they’re not very accurate.”

Industry-reported inventories supplied to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency don’t agree with the figures collected for the new study, researchers say.

“There are a lot of discussions with the petrochemical industry on how to measure these things instead of relying on estimates,” de Gouw says. “I think the number one issue here is awareness. As soon as industry is aware that there could be emissions problems down the road, they can figure out how to fix them at lower cost.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Chemicals, Other, Ozone0 Comments

Good Child Nutrition Takes a Village

CHICAGO, Aug. 11 (UPI) — U.S. schools and communities share the responsibility to provide students with access to high-quality, affordable, nutritious food, nutrition experts say.

Registered dietitians Ethan A. Bergman of Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Wash., and Ruth Gordon of Gordon Consulting LLC in Atlanta wrote the updated position paper on local support for nutrition integrity for the American Dietetic Association, which is published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

“Nutrition integrity means that, when all foods and beverages are consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and when nutrition education, physical activity and a healthful school environment are ensured, learning is enhanced and students develop lifelong, healthful eating habits,” the authors say in a statement.

The position paper says:

– School-based nutrition services, including the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program, are part of a total education program.

– The Dietary Guidelines for Americans should apply to all foods and beverages sold or served to students during the school day.

– Strong local wellness policies promote healthy school environments and nutrition integrity.

– All children should eat breakfast.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Teen Sports Fractures Most Costly, Serious

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Aug. 6 (UPI) — Teen sports-related fractures result in more time lost and medical disqualifications than all other injuries combined, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, find 95 percent of fractures required costly diagnostic imaging, including X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography scans. Sixteen percent require surgical repair.

The study, published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, also finds boys sustained 83 percent of all fractures, and half of all fractures occurred as a result of contact between athletes. Nearly 10 percent of fractures are related to illegal activities.

“Illegal activities represent a preventable cause that should be targeted by prevention programs,” principal investigator Dawn Comstock says in a statement “Fractures are a major concern for U.S. high school athletes. They can severely affect the athletes’ ability to continue sports participation and can impose substantial medical costs on the injured athletes’ families.”

Comstock suggests targeting illegal activities by increasing penalties, strictly enforcing current penalties and educating athletes about the dangers of rule breaking.

“Establishing measures to reduce fractures among U.S. high school athletes should be an important part of sports injury prevention policies,” Comstock says.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Study: Cars Warm Climate More Than Planes

WASHINGTON, Aug. 4 (UPI) — A trip in a car increases global temperatures more than the same trip by airplane, although the flight has a more immediate impact, U.S. researchers say.

In the short run, traveling by air has a larger adverse climate impact because airplanes strongly affect short-lived warming processes at high altitudes, a study in the Journal Environmental Science & Technology says.

The study compared the impacts on global warming of different modes of transport using climate chemistry models to consider the climate effects of all long- and short-lived gases, aerosols and cloud effects resulting from transport worldwide.

The researchers concluded that in the long run the global temperature increase from a car trip would be on average higher than from a plane trip of the same distance.

However, in the first years after the journey, air travel increases global temperatures four times more than car travel.

“As planes fly at high altitudes, their impact on ozone and clouds is disproportionately high, though short lived,” study lead author Dr. Jens Borken-Kleefeld said. “Although the exact magnitude is uncertain, the net effect is a strong, short-term, temperature increase.”

But in the long term it was still car journeys that would have the most impact, he said.

“Car travel emits more carbon dioxide than air travel per passenger mile. As carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere longer than the other gases, cars have a more harmful impact on climate change in the long term.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Cars, Other, Ozone0 Comments

Pet Poisoning Traumatic for Pet and Owner

BREA, Calif., July 29 (UPI) — Pets may often treat anything that falls on the floor as theirs but a U.S. pet health insurer warns pet poisonings are costly physically and financially.

Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. analyzed more than 485,000 pet policies to find the sources of nearly 20,000 pet poisoning claims VPI received from 2005 to 2009.

More than 5,100 claims were caused by accidental ingestion of either pet or human medications; 4,028 claims were for ingesting mouse and rat poison; 3,661 were due to ingesting chocolate or caffeine; 2,808 claims were due to plant poisonings; 1,669 claims were for poisoning by household chemicals and there were fewer than 400 claims each for poisoning due to insecticides, heavy metals, toads, anti-freeze, walnuts, alcohol and strychnine.

The policyholders spent more than $6.6 million from 2005 to 2009 treating their pets for poisoning for an average $791 per claim.

“Not only can a poisoning incident be life-threatening for the pet, it’s traumatic for the pet owner,” Dr. Carol McConnell, chief veterinary medical officer for VPI, says in a statement.

“Depending on what substance the pet has ingested and the amount, the reaction can be sudden with the animal exhibiting alarming symptoms such as staggering, vomiting, drooling, seizures and even loss of consciousness. Pet owners should be aware of which items can be harmful to their pets and keep them out of reach. Don’t assume pets will ignore the bleach in the laundry room or the Philodendron plant by the window.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Smog Can Trigger Cell Death in the Heart

KINGSVILLE, Texas, July 27 (UPI) — Exposure to ground level ozone — a major component of smog — increases the activity of a substance that triggers heart cell death, U.S. researchers say.

Rajat Sethi of Texas A&M Health Science Center Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy in Kingsville, Texas, and colleagues tested four groups of 10 rats living in clear plastic-glass boxes where they were exposed 8 hours daily for either 28 or 56 consecutive days to either ozone or clean, filtered air.

“Our study looked for direct evidence of the role of ozone alone in cardiac dysfunction by creating a controlled environment,” Sethi said in a statement.

The researchers find the hearts of the ozone-exposed rats had increased levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha — an indication of inflammation linked to a drop in heart protective protein — Caveolin 1 — compared with hearts of the control rats.

This protective protein, explains Sethi, seems to protect the heart by binding to a chemical that signals cell death.

Researchers have long reported that deaths from lung diseases, heart attacks and strokes are significantly higher on days with high air pollution levels.

The findings were reported at American Heart Association’s Basic Cardiovascular Sciences Scientific Sessions held at Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Other, Ozone0 Comments

Planned Climate Satellite Gets Final Part

WASHINGTON, July 23 (UPI) — The final experimental instrument has been added to a new NASA weather and climate satellite set to be launched into polar orbit in late 2001, the agency says.

An advanced atmospheric sensor, the Cross-track Infrared Sounder, has been successfully integrated into the Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration release said Thursday.

It joins four other instruments that will collect and distribute remotely sensed land, ocean, and atmospheric data back to Earth.

NPOESS will provide atmospheric and sea surface temperatures, humidity sounding, land and ocean biological productivity, cloud and aerosol properties and total/profile ozone measurements, NASA said.

Once launched, the NPOESS satellite program will be managed by a tri-agency program made up of NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of Defense, NASA said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Study: Africa to Look to Bioenergy Crops

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso, July 23 (UPI) — Crops could be produced for bioenergy production across Africa without displacing food production to “unlock Africa’s latent potential,” a report says.

Polices would be needed to manage potential conflicts but bioenergy crop production for fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel would not damage food supplies or natural habitats, a report by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa said Friday.

“If approached with the proper policies and processes and with the inclusion of all the various stakeholders, bioenergy is not only compatible with food production; it can also greatly benefit agriculture in Africa,” report author Dr. Rocio Diaz-Chavez of Imperial College London said.

“Bioenergy production can bring investments in land, infrastructure, and human resources that could help unlock Africa’s latent potential and positively increase food production,” he said.

The report found there is enough land available in western, eastern and southern Africa to significantly increase the cultivation of biofuel crops such as sugar cane, sorghum and jatropha without diminishing food production.

“Food versus bioenergy” should not be the choice, but rather how to properly integrate bioenergy into agriculture production systems in different regions of Africa, the report said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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New U.S. Oceans Policy Announced

WASHINGTON, July 22 (UPI) — U.S. President Obama has established a new national policy for a coordinated system for managing America’s oceans, coasts and Great Lakes, officials said.

In an executive order issued Monday, the president created the National Ocean Council to implement the new policies, Environment News Service reported.

“With a growing number of recreational, scientific, energy, and security activities,” Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said, “we need a national policy that sets the United States on a new path for the conservation and sustainable use of these critical natural resources.”

Marine management under this policy will be “ecosystem-based,” and regulation of specific activities such as oil and gas development will be based on impacts on the broader ecosystems, ENS reported.

“The new national policy provides a clear road map for all federal agencies to work together, with local partners, to protect our vital waters for future generations,” Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson said.

Environmental groups applauded the new policy.

“As we witness the gut-wrenching devastation in the Gulf of Mexico, this announcement is welcome news for the future health of our oceans,” Bill Eichbaum, World Wildlife Fund vice president for marine policy, said.

“We commend President Obama for his leadership,” he said.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

Posted in Conservation, Other, Policies & Solutions0 Comments

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