Archive | Ozone

Sierre Leone Bans Imports of Ozone-Depleting Products

Sierra Leone plans to prohibit imported goods known to damage the ozone layer, the federal Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday.

Kolleh Bangura, director of the West African nation’s EPA, told AFP that a new measure would ban products containing substances known to deplete the ozone, such as old refrigerators. The ban will go into effect April 1.

“A recent workshop has sensitised customs and marine officials as well as other stakeholders including fire-fighters on the harmful effect of ozone-depleting substances,” Bangura said, according to AFP.

“Sierra Leone has made progress in the issue of ozone depletion between 1990 to 2000 introducing environmental policies, strategies and regulations but practical control and management have been severely affected by lack of funding,” Bangura added.

The attempt to ban ozone-damaging products and substances dates back to 2008, when the law was first passed by the nation’s parliament. A lack of funding prevented the ban from going into effect until now.

Posted in Laws & Regulations, Ozone0 Comments

EPA Takes Over Texas Carbon Emission Permits

The Environmental Protection Agency Thursday announced its plans to take over carbon dioxide permitting of any new power plants and refineries in Texas, citing the state’s refusal to comply with emissions regulations going into effect Jan. 2.

Texas industries have openly opposed the Obama administration’s Clean Air Act, a program designed to curb greenhouse gas emissions. They claim that the cuts will threaten productivity, and that the economy, in turn, will take a hit.

The EPA said Thursday that it was reassuming the state’s Clean Air Act Permits because “officials in Texas have made clear . . . they have no intention of implementing this portion of the federal air permitting program,” The Associated Press reported.

“EPA prefers that the state of Texas and all states remain the permitting authority for (greenhouse gas) sources,” the agency said in a statement. “In the same way that EPA has worked with other states and local agencies, the agency stands ready to do the same with (Texas).”

The EPA constructed a framework for carbon emissions regulations in seven other states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Oregon and Wyoming.

The agency also devised a timetable for establishing the cuts for all U.S. facilities and power plants. It plans to propose performance standards for greenhouse gas emissions beginning in July for powerplants and for oil refineries by December. The standards will be finalized in May 2012 for powerplants and November 2012 for refineries.

Gov. Rick Perry spokeswoman spoke out against the EPA’s decision to directly issue air permits in Texas.

“The EPA’s misguided plan paints a huge target on the backs of Texas agriculture and energy producers by implementing unnecessary, burdensome mandates on our state’s energy sector, threatening hundreds of thousands of Texas jobs and imposing increased living costs on Texas families,” Cesinger said, according to the San Antonio Express.

An estimated 167 new or expanding projects would be subject to the EPA takeover. Texas lays claim to more oil refineries, chemical plants, and coal-fired power plants than any other state and produces the most greenhouse gas emissions and industrial pollution in the country, AP reports.

The new carbon emissions standards were adopted after a 2007 Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse gases should be classified as pollutants under the Clean Air Act and EPA research in 2009 revealed that the gases have a harmful effect on human health.

Posted in Air Pollutants, Air Pollution, Coal, Courts & Litigation, Drilling for Oil, Energy Industry, Global Warming, Laws & Regulations, Oil & Petroleum, Ozone, Policies, Pollution Prevention0 Comments

Study: CO2 is 'thermostat' for Earth

NEW YORK, Oct. 14 (UPI) — Water vapor and clouds are major factors in Earth’s greenhouse effect but carbon dioxide will always be the ultimate culprit, a U.S. study found.

The study, conducted by researchers at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, examined the nature of Earth’s greenhouse effect, which traps and holds outgoing infrared radiation, a NASA release said Thursday.

The researchers say non-condensing greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone and chlorofluorocarbons are the core actors in the terrestrial greenhouse effect. Without them, scientists say, water vapor and clouds alone would not create the feedback mechanisms that amplify the greenhouse effect.

The study, lead author Andrew Lacis says, demonstrates “the direct relationship that exists between rising atmospheric carbon dioxide and rising global temperature.”

“The bottom line is that atmospheric carbon dioxide acts as a thermostat in regulating the temperature of Earth,” Lacis said. “It is not surprising then that global warming can be linked directly to the observed increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide and to human industrial activity in general.”

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, Ozone, Radiation0 Comments

New Technique Could Help Ozone Layer

NORWICH, England, Sept. 3 (UPI) — A new way to measure atmospheric gases could track down sources of CFCs thought to be slowing the recovery of Earth’s ozone layer, European researchers say.

CFCs, chlorofluorocarbons, were used in refrigerants and aerosol propellants until restricted by a global treaty in 1987, but they have stayed in the air longer than many expected, the BBC reported Friday.

A team of British and German researchers says it is now possible to chemically “fingerprint” CFCs to potentially trace their origin.

The scientists worked on samples of atmosphere retrieved from 115,000 feet in the stratosphere by French space agency balloons.

Using mass spectrometers, they detailed the ratios of different isotopes of chlorine atoms present in small concentrations of chlorofluorocarbon-12.

The sharp falls in global emissions of CFCs seen in the early years following the signing of the treaty have leveled off, suggesting some chlorofluorocarbons, which should have been exhausted in developed countries by now, are still in use.

“Even though the production and use of CFC-12 is forbidden by the Montreal Protocol, we still find it in the atmosphere,” Jan Kaiser of the University of East Anglia said.

The ability to make fine measurements opens the door to chemical fingerprinting — of being able to tie a particular sample to a known origin.

Such information could help authorities identify continuing sources, the BBC 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 Other, Ozone0 Comments

Review: EU Falling Down on Environment

BRUSSELS, Aug. 30 (UPI) — The European Union has earned a failing grade on its environmental commitments in almost all areas, recent officials studies say.

From protecting biodiversity to improving air quality in the cities, official reviews of the EU’s performance overwhelmingly say more must be done, Inter Press Service reports.

The European Commission, the bloc’s governing body, confirms the worrisome problems in its latest Environment Policy Review released Aug. 2.

Although many official environmental protection programs have been launched and progress is evident in some areas, “further efforts are needed, in particular (to tackle) the loss of biodiversity,” the EC review said.

Only 17 percent of protected EU habitats and species have a good conservation status, the review said.

“Grasslands, wetlands and coastal habitats are the most vulnerable, mainly due to factors such as the decline in traditional patterns of agriculture, pressure by tourist development, and climate change,” it said.

The review also found the quality of air in most European cities continues to be “bad.” Exposure to particulate matter, especially ozone and other heavy polluters such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, remains high, it said.

European Commissioner for Environment Biodiversity Janez Potocnik has urged European governments to increase their environmental efforts.

“A number of data and trends (in environmental protection) remain worrying. I see a clear need … for further EU and national policy measures to make Europe more resource efficient,” Potocnik 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 Biodiversity, Conservation, Other, Ozone0 Comments

Ozone + Nicotine = Bigger Asthma Threat

BERKELEY, Calif., Aug. 17 (UPI) — Ozone can react with secondhand tobacco smoke to form ultrafine particles that may pose a bigger threat to asthma sufferers than nicotine, U.S. researchers say.

Study leader Mohamad Suleiman, a chemist with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s environmental energy technologies division, and colleagues say the ultrafine particles become major components of thirdhand smoke — the residue from tobacco smoke that clings on surfaces, long after a cigarette or cigar has been extinguished.

The study, published in the journal Atmospheric Environment, finds nicotine can react with ozone to form secondary organic aerosols that are less than 100 nanometers in diameter and become a source of thirdhand smoke.

“Because of their size and high surface area to volume ratio, ultrafine particles have the capacity to carry and deposit potentially harmful organic chemicals deep into the lower respiratory tract where they promote oxidative stress,” Suleiman says in a statement. “It’s been well established by others that the elderly and the very young are at greatest risk.”

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

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

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

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

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