Archive | Air Pollution

Swiss Alps Wildlife Hurt by Increase in Winter Tourism

BERN, Switzerland, Dec. 27 (UPI) — Swiss authorities say they are urging winter tourists to be aware of their impact on wildlife in the Alps.

With the booming popularity of winter sports such as free-ride snowboarding and snowshoe walking, Alpine wildlife — especially its deer population — is being impacted as never before, and officials are becoming concerned that human activity is threatening their survival, Swissinfo reported Sunday.

In response, Swiss federal wildlife officials, in cooperation with environmental groups and tourism managers, have launched an international awareness campaign urging visitors to stick to established routes, the Web site said.

Swiss mountain ranger Andres Overturf wouldn’t point fingers at any particular sport or activity, but noted that skiers, snowboarders and cross-country snowshoe hikers are all impacting wildlife by taking unpredictable paths.

“Animals can get used to human presence off-piste but only if people stick to the same routes and zones,” Overturf told Swissinfo, saying wild animals are losing crucial retreat spaces and must expend much physical energy to run away through high snow and cold temperatures.

“Added to this is food scarcity and often there is not enough time to rest because of the stress,” he said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollution, Animals, Business & Economics, Consumer Products, Ecosystems, Mammals, Nature & Ecosystems, Pollution & Toxins, Recreation & Travel, Walking0 Comments

Air Pollution Linked to Pneumonia Hospitalizations in Seniors

HAMILTON, Ontario, Dec. 23 (UPI) — Prolonged exposure to higher levels of air pollution can lead to hospitalization for pneumonia in adults age 65 and older, Canadian researchers found.

Infectious disease specialist Mark Loeb of McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine in Hamilton led a research team in recruiting 365 older adults from Hamilton who had been hospitalized with radiologically confirmed pneumonia from July 2003 to April 2005. Control subjects randomly selected from the same neighborhoods as the patients were also enrolled in the study.

The researchers used structured interviews to collect health data from participants and compared the two groups’ exposures to data from air-quality monitoring stations and land-use regression models.

The researchers found that exposure for more than 12 months to higher levels of nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter of less than 2.5 micrometers more than doubled the risk of hospitalization for pneumonia in adults age 65 and older. However, exposure to sulfur dioxide was not associated with an increased risk of hospitalization.

“Our study found that among older individuals, long-term exposure to traffic pollution independently increased their risk of hospitalization for pneumonia,” Loeb said in a statement.

The findings are scheduled to be published in the Jan. 1 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Ailments & Diseases, Air Pollutants, Air Pollution, Air, Atmosphere, & Weather, Effects Of Air Pollution, Human Health & Wellness, Pollution & Toxins, Seniors’ Health0 Comments

Duke Energy to Spend $93M for Violations

INDIANAPOLIS, Dec. 22 (UPI) — Duke Energy will spend $85 million to resolve Clean Air Act violations at its Indiana plant and pay a $1.75 million fine, federal officials said Tuesday.

The company agreed to reduce harmful air pollution and pay the penalty under a settlement to resolve the violations, the U.S. Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency said in a joint release.

The settlement also requires Duke Energy to invest $6.25 million on environmental mitigation projects, the agencies said.

The agreement, filed in federal court in Indianapolis, resolves violations found at the company’s Gallagher coal-fired power plant in New Albany, Ind., across the Ohio River from Louisville. The settlement is expected to reduce the plant’s sulfur dioxide emissions by almost 35,000 tons per year, an 86 percent reduction when compared to 2008 emission levels, the Justice Department said.

The settlement also requires Duke to spend $6.25 million on environmental mitigation projects, including $250,000 for the U.S. Forest Service to address acid rain in downwind national forests, $5 million for at least one project such conversion to hydro-generation or hybrid vehicle fleets, and $1 million for environmental mitigation projects allocated among the states — New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — that joined the settlement.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollution, Air Pollution Remediation, Air, Atmosphere, & Weather, Business & Economics, Coal, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Industry, Ethics & Responsibility, Justice0 Comments

Cellphones Can Help Asthmatics Avoid Air Pollution

SAN DIEGO, Dec. 7 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say a network of sensors could help asthmatics avoid air pollution.

CitiSense, planned by the University of California, San Diego, is a wireless network in which hundreds or thousands of small environmental sensors are attached to the backpacks, purses and jackets of San Diegans going about daily life.

The sensors shuttle information via cellphones to central computers to be analyzed, “anonymized” and sent back out to individuals, public health agencies and San Diego at large.

The sensor-wearing people will have the option of also wearing biological monitors to collect basic health information — such as heart rate — making it possible for researchers to investigate the effect of particular environmental pollutants on human health.

“San Diego County has 3.1 million residents, 4,000 square miles and only five official Environmental Protection Agency air quality monitors. We know about the air quality in those exact spots but we know much less about the air quality in other places,” principal CitiSense investigator William Griswold said in a statement.

“Our goal is to give San Diegans up-to-the-minute environmental information about where they live, work and play — information that will empower anyone in the community to make healthier choices.”

The system will allow people to plot their outside exercise away from polluted air that might aggravate asthma, the researchers said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollution, Human Health & Wellness, Other0 Comments

Reducing Greenhouse Gases Proven to Save Lives in Low Income Countries

BERKELEY, Calif., Nov. 25 (UPI) — Reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will have direct health benefits especially in low-income countries, U.S. researchers said.

In a series of studies, Kirk R. Smith, professor of global environmental health, and Michael Jerrett, associate professor of environmental health sciences, both of the University of California, Berkeley, and colleagues used case studies to demonstrate the co-benefits of tackling climate change in four sectors — electricity generation, household energy use, transportation and food and agriculture.

“Policymakers need to know that if they exert their efforts in certain directions, they can obtain important public health benefits as well as climate benefits,” Smith said in a statement.

Combustion-related air pollution is estimated to be responsible for nearly 2.5 million premature deaths annually around the world and also for a significant portion of greenhouse warming.

One case study, led by Smith, said the 150-million-stove program in India from 2010-2020 could prevent 2 million premature deaths in India in addition to reducing greenhouse pollution.

A paper co-authored by Jerrett contains analysis of 18 years of data on of black carbon that tracked 352,000 people in 66 U.S. cities. Black carbon is a short-lived greenhouse pollutant, but exert significant direct impacts on health.

The case studies are published in the journal The Lancet.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollution, Electricity, Energy, Other, Pollution & Toxins, Transportation0 Comments

Air Pollution at Small Airports a Concern

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 18 (UPI) — Air pollution is well-recognized problem at major airports, but air pollution near smaller regional airports may be overlooked, U.S. researchers say.

Suzanne Paulson of the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues said smaller regional airports are becoming an increasingly important component of global air transport systems.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, suggests that officials should pay closer attention to these overlooked emissions, which could cause health problems for residents. Paulson and colleagues note that scientists have known for years that aircraft emissions from fuel burned during takeoffs and landings can have a serious impact on air quality near major airports.

The scientists measured a range of air pollutants near a general aviation airport for private planes and corporate jets in Southern California — Santa Monica Airport — in the spring and summer of last year.

The researchers found that emissions of ultrafine particles, which are less than 1/500th width of a human hair, were significantly elevated when compared to background pollution levels.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollutants, Air Pollution, Aviation, Pollution & Toxins, Regional, Science, Space, & Technology0 Comments

Arizona's Growth Fueled Air Pollution

PHOENIX, Nov. 13 (UPI) — Arizona’s booming population growth polluted its air at a faster rate than any other state between 1990 and 2007, researchers said.

The amount of carbon dioxide pollution from automobile exhaust and electric power generation in Arizona grew 61 percent between 1990 and 2007, researchers for the advocacy group Environment Arizona said Thursday.

That increase was more than three times the national average, The Arizona Republic reported Friday.

Carbon dioxide, which contributes to respiratory illness, is the most common of greenhouse gases researchers say are increasing temperatures and changing Earth’s climate.

Air pollution levels could be reduced by increasing renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, and by more closely regulating coal-burning power plants, Environment Arizona spokesman Bret Fanshaw said.

“More pollution than ever before isn’t a record we want to set,” Fanshaw said. “It’s time to take back control of our energy future. We can drive the economy without driving up pollution.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollution, Coal, Energy, Other, Pollution & Toxins, Population Growth, Solar, Wind0 Comments

Shell Oil Corporation Considering Arctic Drilling for Oil and Gas Off Alaskan Coast

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Nov. 5 (UPI) — The Shell oil corporation said it will decide within months whether to begin drilling for oil and gas off the Alaskan coast despite strong opposition.

The Anchorage Daily News said Thursday that environmentalists and Alaska North Slope officials are opposing possible Arctic drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

Scientists suspect the two seas may hold significant stores of oil and natural gas.

Shell has already spent more than $2 billion to obtain leases in the seas, but its plans to drill there were delayed the last two years by successful litigation by the officials and environmentalists.

The two drilling opponents allege drilling in the seas could lead to oil spills and negative impacts on the bowhead whale population in the surrounding area.

Despite such delays, Shell has readied equipment for possible drilling to begin next summer. Shell Alaska Vice President Peter Slaib said Wednesday a final decision on the matter should be determined by December or January.

The Daily News said key to Shell’s drilling plans is whether the company can obtain federal air pollution permits for drilling.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollution, Drilling for Oil, Energy & Fuels, Natural Gas0 Comments

Air Pollutants Study Shows Toxins Move from Asia to United States, from United States to Europe

Pollutant plumes observed in the United States can be attributed unambiguously to Asian sources based on meteorological and chemical analyses, researchers say.

Charles Kolb — president of Aerodyne Research Inc. and chairman of the committee that wrote the report on air pollution by the National Research Council — said the report examines four types of air pollutants: ozone; particulate matter such as dust, sulfates, or soot; mercury; and persistent organic pollutants such as DDT.

The committee found evidence, including satellite observations, that these four types of pollutants can be transported aloft across the Northern Hemisphere, delivering significant concentrations to downwind continents — from Asia to the United States and from the United States to Europe.

One study found that a polluted airmass detected at Mt. Bachelor Observatory in central Oregon took approximately eight days to travel from East Asia, the report said.

Modeling studies have estimated that about 500 premature cardiopulmonary deaths could be avoided annually in North America if ozone emissions were reduced by 20 percent in the other major industrial regions of the Northern Hemisphere.

For mercury and persistent organic pollutants, the main health concern is transport and deposition on land and water. For example, people may consume mercury by eating fish, the report said.

Posted in Air Pollutants, Air Pollution, Fish, Other, Ozone, Pollution & Toxins0 Comments

Invention Alerts to Home Dust Dangers, Monitors Air Quality

TEL AVIV, Israel, Sept. 24 (UPI) — Israeli researchers say they have developed a tool to warn of invisible dangers lurking in the dust found in homes.

Eyal Ben-Dor and Sandra Chudnovsky of Tel Aviv University in Israel said the sensor — called Dust Alert — is a portable chemical analyzer called a spectrophotometer that functions much like a chemistry lab and could help families and authorities monitor the quality of a home’s air.

“It works just like an ozone meter would,” Ben-Dor said in a statement. “We’ve found through our ongoing research that some simple actions at home can have a profound effect on the quality of air we breathe.”

He suggests the tool could accurately forecast the health of a home or apartment for prospective home owners.

“If somebody in your family has an allergy, poor air quality can be a deal breaker,” Ben-Dor said.

The findings have been published in Science of the Total Environment, Urban Air Pollution: Problems, Control Technologies and Management Practices.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollution, Homes & Buildings, Other, Ozone1 Comment

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