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(Environment) U.S. Pollution Drops (Smog)

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2006 9:09 am    Post subject: (Environment) U.S. Pollution Drops (Smog) Reply with quote

This topic, although it begins with a news article concerning the US, applies to the Philippines. It in fact is very timely for a town like Paete, which sits between a mountain range and a lake. These conditions provide the right recipe for a smog. It is hoped that through this lesson, we will become more aware of how delicate the quality of the air above the town of Paete is. It is sensitive to what we do and it is hoped that through education we would become more aware of the need to protect clean air.

This lesson highlights a simulator from the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District: (Try it and see what conditions lead to the formation of smog)

A simulation program for smog:
Check how weather, air temperature. temperature inversion, sources of pollution, affect the amount of ozone in the air that we breathe.

Introduction to the simulator

The Program

Air Quality Index

U.S. Pollution Drops
By Ryan Pearson
Associated Press
posted: 28 April 2005
09:29 am ET

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Fewer Americans have had to breathe unhealthy levels of smog or microscopic soot in recent years, but air pollution remained a threat in counties where more than half the nation lives, the American Lung Association said in an annual report Thursday.

Using data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the group found that the number of counties in which unhealthy air was recorded fell significantly for the first time in six years, to 390 from 441 in last year's report. The new report covered 2001 to 2003, while the previous one analyzed pollution levels from 2000 to 2002.

The association attributed the dip to cool and wet weather in the years studied, government controls on Eastern coal-fired power plants and improved vehicle emissions standards. Areas of the Southeast accounted for much of the drop in pollution.

But Janice Nolen, the group's director of national policy, emphasized that the counties where problems persist are home to 152 million people, or 52 percent of the U.S. population.

"People's lives are shortened by months to years because of the air they're breathing,'' she said. "The trend has gotten a little bit better in the last few years ... but we're not out of the woods.''

Counties were considered to have unhealthy air if their pollution levels exceeded federal standards for an average of about three days a year.

Most of the violations were for ground-level ozone, a precursor to smog that causes respiratory illnesses that can be especially harmful to the elderly, children and people with asthma. Ozone pollution occurs when hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides _ released when fossil fuels burn or chemicals evaporate _ combine with heat and sunlight.

California remains the nation's ozone capital, with nine of the top 10 most smog-choked counties. Five counties in Ohio and three in Pennsylvania also were among the 25 worst.

One in five Americans, meanwhile, face year-round unhealthy exposure to particulates, tiny soot from diesel-burning trucks, fireplaces, agriculture and other sources, the report found. It can lodge deep in the lungs and contribute to heart problems.

The EPA credited tougher standards for the drop in air pollution, including its 1998 rule requiring Eastern states to reduce power plant nitrogen oxide emissions. Impending emissions standards for trucks, cars and sport-utility vehicles will help cut pollution further, the agency said.

Conservatives and energy-industry groups have criticized the Lung Association's methodology, saying it's misleading to give counties "failing'' grades for air pollution that might have been recorded at just one monitoring station.

"I wish they would do more informing and less scaring,'' said Ben Lieberman, a senior environment and energy policy analyst at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, a conservative research group.


Questions to explore further this topic:

A simulation program for smog:
Check how weather, air temperature. temperature inversion, sources of pollution, affect the amount of ozone in the air that we breathe.

Introduction to the simulator

The Program

Air Quality Index

What is air pollution?

What is smog?

What causes smog?

The main culprit: Oxides of Nitrogen

The Internal Combustion Engine


Diesel Exhaust

Learn how smog is formed, for example, in the Galveston-Houston area:

Smog makes downtown Phoenix barely visible in this 1996 image from Papago park, a city park about 15 miles from the city's heart. (AP Photo/Jeff Robbins)

Movie: California Smog (from 1943-present)

The Donora Smog of 1948

The Great Smog of London (1952)

Smog in Ontario, Canada

Health Issues of Smog:

Environmental Issues of Smog

What is thermal inversion and how does it cause smog?

What is ozone?

What is particle pollution?

Small spark ignition engines

Video: A possible dream



Last edited by adedios on Sat Jan 27, 2007 3:16 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2006 7:29 pm    Post subject: Less Pollution on City Sidewalks than Streets Reply with quote

Less Pollution on City Sidewalks than Streets
By Bjorn Carey
LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 16 January 2006
10:02 am ET

Passengers in taxis, buses, and cars all inhale substantially more pollution than cyclists and pedestrians, a new study shows.

Researchers measured levels of ultrafine, traffic-produced pollution particles on busy London streets using a newly developed particle counter fitted with a video recorder.

The equipment allowed them to match particle levels with each of the five modes of transport. They also could identify what activities and behaviors lead to the highest exposures.

The results

On average, taxi passengers were exposed to more than 100,000 ultrafine particle counts per cubic centimeter. Bus travelers were exposed to just under 100,000 and people in cars about 40,000.

Pedestrians and bicyclists, meanwhile, were exposed to counts of just 5,000 and 8,000, respectively.

Ultrafine particles are so small that large amounts can be inhaled in a single breath, after which they can settle in the lungs and damage cells.

Would the results hold true in New York City or elsewhere?

"[We] generally found that the trends such as pedestrians having the lowest exposures and the in-vehicle exposures being much higher to be common across different countries," study co-author Surbjit Kaur of Imperial College London told LiveScience. "However, the concentrations do vary due to different local conditions, such as traffic, meteorology, building layout, and configuration."

Why the difference?

People sitting in a vehicle in the middle of heavy traffic are directly in the path of the pollutant source—other vehicle's mufflers. Pollution in cars is less than in other vehicles most likely because cars generally spend less time in traffic than taxis and buses. Also, private cars tend to be cleaner to begin with.

Bikers stick mostly to the outer edges of the street, where pollution levels are lower. People on the sidewalk are even further away.

So where's the best place to walk in a busy city?

Kaur suggests staying closer to the buildings, where you'll be exposed to approximately 10 percent less pollution than curbside.

The research is detailed in the January issue of the journal Atmospheric Environment.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2006 1:41 pm    Post subject: Darker Days in China as Sun Gets Dimmer Reply with quote

Darker Days in China as Sun Gets Dimmer
By LiveScience Staff

posted: 20 January 2006
09:33 am ET

Smog is blocking sunlight in China and making much of the country significantly darker than it was half a century ago.

Using nearly 500 instruments spread throughout the country that record the amount of sunlight reaching the ground, researchers found that solar radiation has decreased by about 2 percent per decade since 1954.

The country is roughly 10 percent darker on average than it was 50 years ago.

Fewer clouds

The researchers also found that water evaporation rates across the country have decreased in the same period, by about 1.5 inches per decade. The dip in solar radiation, combined with other factors such as increased temperatures and wind speeds, are likely behind this trend, said lead researcher Yun Qian from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory(PNNL) in Washington.

Adding further support to this hypothesis is that cloud cover, the other likely explanation, has actually decreased in China over the past half century, by 0.78 percent each decade.

Eliminating clouds from the dimming equation leaves little doubt that fossil fuel emissions, which have increased by nine-fold in the past half-century, is blanketing China in a foggy haze that absorbs and deflects sunlight, the researchers say.

Will get worse

China’s expected increase in economic activity will only make the situation worse and could lead to other problems as well, Qian said.

"Haze doesn't just block the solar radiation," Qian said. "It is also infamous for acid rain and respiratory diseases."

The study was detailed online recently by the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2006 8:52 am    Post subject: Report: California Worst in Soot Pollution Reply with quote

Report: California Worst in Soot Pollution
Fri Jan 20, 7:35 PM ET
Associated Press

California has the worst rate of soot pollution in the United States, according to a report released Thursday by an environmental group.

Environment California released the report, "Plagued by Pollution," which lists data of fine particle, or soot pollution, from environmental agencies across the country.

The Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario area ranked as the nation's top offender for soot pollution among large metropolitan areas. Pittsburgh ranked second, followed by the Los Angeles-Orange County area. Atlanta ranked fourth.

Soot pollution can lead to serious respiratory and cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks, strokes and asthma attacks, according to the American Lung Association.

The report blames California's power plants and large numbers of diesel trucks, cars and ships for air pollution. Although the state has tightened environmental regulations, a growing population may be contributing to more pollution.

The metropolitan areas were ranked by micrograms of pollution per cubic meter, or soot in the air. Soot particles are often released from fossil fuel combustion and emissions from coal-fired power plants or factories.

Particulates are sometimes carried by the wind, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
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Sangguniang Bayan

PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2006 7:39 am    Post subject: Smog in Paete Reply with quote

Hi Angel,

Happy Birthday!!!

Attached were pictures taken the other day Jan 21, 2006. Picture with smog was taken 7:30 in the morning and the other one was 12:00 high noon. Pictures were taken while at the fourth floor of my house (pls see another picture with my green car parked beside <lol>) located adjacent to Paloy Cagayat residence near the Iglesia ni Cristo church. In front of INC church is the store/bldg. of Bit and Diana Cagandahan. You can visibly notice what Paete looks like as we discuss the smog issue. I thougth it was just a fog,

Radiation fog, formed only over land, is caused by the cooling of the Earth by radiation. At night, radiation lowers water temperature comparatively slowly, but land cools rapidly, becoming cooler than the air above it; consequently a fog is formed. Such fog is seldom thick and usually “burns off” in the morning.

Upslope fog is formed when air is evenly cooled by its rising and expanding, as when a wind flows up a mountain slope.

Microsoft ® Encarta ® Premium Suite 2005. © 1993-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved

But seeing those smokes, mass of tiny particles in the air that rises up from something burning coming from almost everybody's yards every morning. I think smog really exist in Paete.

Fog or Mist, cloud of condensed water vapour in the form of water droplets or ice crystals, suspended in the atmosphere just over the surface of the Earth. In cities and industrial areas, fog often combines with smoke to produce the mixture called smog.

Smog, mixture of solid and liquid fog and smoke particles formed when humidity is high and the air so calm that smoke and fumes accumulate near their source. Smog reduces natural visibility and often irritates the eyes and respiratory tract. In dense urban areas, the death rate may rise considerably during prolonged periods of smog, particularly when a process of heat inversion creates a smog-trapping ceiling over a city. Smog occurs most often in and near coastal cities and is an especially severe air pollution problem in Athens, Los Angeles, and Tokyo.

Smog prevention requires control of smoke from furnaces; reduction of fumes from metal-working and other industrial plants; and, increasingly, control of noxious emissions from motor vehicles and incinerators. Internal-combustion engines are regarded as one of the main contributors to the smog problem, emitting large amounts of contaminants, including unburned hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen. The number of undesirable components in smog, however, is considerable, and the proportions highly variable. They include ozone, sulphur dioxide, hydrogen cyanide, and hydrocarbons and their products formed by partial oxidation. Fuel obtained from fractionation of coal and petroleum produces sulphur dioxide, which is oxidized by atmospheric oxygen, forming sulphur trioxide (SO3). Sulphur trioxide is in turn hydrated by the water vapour in the atmosphere to form sulphuric acid (H2SO4).

So-called photochemical smog, which irritates sensitive membranes and damages plants, is formed when nitrogen oxides in the atmosphere undergo reactions with the hydrocarbons energized by ultraviolet and other types of radiation from the Sun.

Microsoft ® Encarta ® Premium Suite 2005. © 1993-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

The Sangguniang Bayan members will seriously look deeper in getting possible and acceptable solutions to the smog problem. Thank you for those science lessons! And to Arthur Africano for bringing up his observations.

Thanks and regards,

p.s. Tama ka! Napakahalaga nga pala ng mga science lessons na iyong pinasusumikapan at matiyagang iniaalay sa amin upang lubos naming maunawaan at magamit bilang gabay sa aming pamumuhay at pagsasaayos ng mga programang may kinalaman sa kabutihan ng Paete at ng mamamayan nito. Mahalaga nga na ang science lessons ay suportahan at maipagpatuloy . Sapagkat, ito ang magiging daan upang ang mga bago at tamang kaisipan ay matuklasan hindi lang ng mga kabataan kundi ng mga magulang din. “Edukasyon ang susi sa kaunlaran ng Paete”. We have discussed it already (smog problems) with the Barangay Captains the other day while viewing attached pictures. It is by educating the people, we could solve or maybe reduce smog problem in Paete (from top to bottom).


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2006 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vice mayor;

Thank you for the greetings.

Thank you as well for paying some time and attention to the science lessons. I do have comments. The pictures are very helpful indeed. However, one needs to keep in mind that our vision is quite limited in studying smog. Smog becomes very clear to our naked eyes especially when the air is moist (during the early morning). When the air is moist, water coats the airborne particles making them bigger, so the air becomes really hazy. What we see is also dependent of where we are (I guess to visibly observe smog, it is better to look at the air above Paete not from inside Paete, but from a distant town). If you are trying to see the smog as a function of time of day, it is helpful to look at the sky. Without smog, (on a cloudless day or pick a spot that has no clouds), the sky is blue. With smog, it is less deep in blue.

From a horizontal view (like the one illustrated by your photos), smog becomes quite visible during the morning and the late afternoon. One's lungs are good indicators of smog. The small particles that we normally do not see are the ones that can enter our air passages. But, of course, we do not and should not use our lungs. There are instruments that can provide measurements of air pollution that is not dependent on one's vision or quality of camera.

But as we study the lessons on smog and explore what other people in other cities have found, we may in fact understand better smog. The geographical location of Paete (being sandwiched between a mountain and a lake) is very important - it really makes it susceptible to the formation of smog and trapping of pollutants right above Paete, which would increase the exposure of Paetenians to these very harmful and toxic substances.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2006 11:23 am    Post subject: Springtime Means Sun, Flowers and Smog from Abroad Reply with quote

Springtime Means Sun, Flowers and Smog from Abroad
By Robert Roy Britt
LiveScience Managing Editor
posted: 17 February 2006
08:04 am ET

Spring brings sun, flowers and longer days. In the United States, it's also when more smog-making pollutants arrive after a long trek across the Pacific Ocean.

Large amounts of nitrogen oxides (NOx)—key chemicals in the production of ozone, or smog—reach North America in the spring, a new study indicates. The peak is in May.

The research, led by Yuhang Wang at the Georgia Institute of Technology, used data from aircraft about 3 to 4 miles over the western United States and north to Greenland. The observations are from different flight tracks each month, so firm comparisons month-to-month are not possible. But the broad picture is fairly clear.

In Februrary and March there was almost no NOx up there. A big lump appeared in April. By May, there were three regions with high concentration, Wang told LiveScience. The composition of the pollution and some computer modeling suggests it must have been in the atmosphere for some time, riding the prevailing winds rather than wafting up locally.

Likely from Asia

While the source has not been pinned down (it could be traveling from as far away as Europe) the likely culprit is Asia, where industrial pollution is on the rise as economic output soars.

"It's more likely to be coming from Asia than from Europe, but we don't know how much more likely," Wang said.

Scientists already knew pollutants hitchhike air rides around the globe. U.S. pollution has been tracked to Europe. Dust is known to reach North America from both Africa and China.

"Finding this large amount of NOx traveling from across the Pacific is important because it will allow us to build better models so we can better understand how pollutants created in one region of the world are affecting the other regions," Wang said.

The research, supported by the National Science Foundation, is detailed in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

May is bad

Detecting foreign pollution at Earth's surface is virtually impossible, because it gets lost in the shuffle of local bad air.

NOx comes primarily from cars, power plants and other industrial activity. With a recipe of NOx, water, carbon monoxide and a dash of ultraviolet light from the Sun, ozone is produced. Way up in the stratosphere, ozone is a good thing—it protects us from harmful UV rays. But down here, we call it smog. The stuff measured in Wang's study qualifies as "down here."

"You really don't need a lot of [NOx], but when you have a lot of it, it tends to produce ozone faster," Wang said.

May is a bad time for the globetrotting NOx to peak, Wang and his colleagues say.

"For the same amount of NOx," Wang explained, "ozone production is faster in May than April because there is more ultraviolet light and water vapor available in May."
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2006 11:26 am    Post subject: Study Finds No Safe Level For Ozone Reply with quote

Source: Yale University

Posted: February 16, 2006

Study Finds No Safe Level For Ozone
Even at very low levels, ozone--the principal ingredient in smog--increases the risk of premature death, according to a nationwide study to be published in the April edition of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

The study, sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control, found that if a safe level for ozone exists, it is only at very low or natural levels and far below current U.S. and international regulations. A 10 part-per-billion increase in the average of the two previous days' ozone levels is associated with a 0.30 percent increase in mortality.

The current study builds on research published in November 2004 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which was the first national study of ozone and mortality.

"This study investigates whether there is a threshold level below which ozone does not affect mortality. Our findings show that even if all 98 counties in our study met the current ozone standard every day, there would still be a significant link between ozone and premature mortality," said Michelle Bell, lead investigator on the study and assistant professor of environmental health at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. "This indicates that further reductions in ozone pollution would benefit public health, even in areas that meet regulatory requirements."

Researchers found that even for days that currently meet the EPA limit for an acceptable level of ozone--80 parts per billion for an eight-hour period--there was still an increased risk of death from the pollutant.

An effort is now under way by the EPA to consider whether more stringent standards for ozone are needed. The agency is mandated to set regulations for ozone under the Clean Air Act. Ozone, a gas that occurs naturally in the upper atmosphere, is created in the lower atmosphere when vehicle and industrial emissions react with sunlight. Levels typically rise when sunlight and heat are highest in the summer.

"Over 100 million people in the United States live in areas that exceed the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone. Elevated concentrations of ozone are also a growing concern for rapidly developing nations with rising levels of ozone from expanding transportation networks," said Francesca Dominici, co-author of the study and associate professor of biostatistics at Johns Hopkins.

The study is online at

Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

Information on Michell Bell:
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2006 7:57 am    Post subject: Exposure to fine particle air pollution Reply with quote

JAMA and Archives Journals
8 March 2006

Exposure to fine particle air pollution linked with risk of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases

Being exposed to fine particle matter air pollution increases a person's risk for hospital admission for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, according to a study in the March 8 issue of JAMA.
Numerous studies have shown associations of chronic exposure to airborne particles and increased health risks. Recent evidence on adverse effects of particulate air pollution on public health has motivated the development of more stringent standards for levels of particulate matter in outdoor air in the United States and in other countries, according to background information in the article. In 1997, the standard for airborne particulate matter was revised, maintaining the previous indicator of particulate matter of less than or equal to 10 µm in aerodynamic diameter (PM10) and creating a new indicator for fine particulate matter of less than or equal to 2.5 µm in aerodynamic diameter (PM2.5). Particles in this size range have a much greater probability of reaching the small airways and the alveoli (air sacs) of the lung than do larger particles. Evidence is limited on the health risks of this size range of particulate matter.

Francesca Dominici, Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and colleagues conducted a study to estimate the risk for cardiac and respiratory diseases from exposure to fine particulate air pollution. The researchers analyzed data from a national database for 1999 through 2002 on hospital admission rates (constructed from the Medicare National Claims History Files) for cardiovascular and respiratory outcomes and injuries for 11.5 million Medicare enrollees (aged 65 years or older) who lived in 204 U.S. urban counties (population greater than 200,000). The individuals lived an average of 5.9 miles from a PM2.5 monitor.

The researchers found there was a short-term increase in hospital admission rates associated with exposure to PM2.5 for all of the health outcomes except injuries. The largest association was for heart failure, which had a 1.28 percent increase in risk per 10-µg/m3 increase in same-day PM2.5. Cardiovascular risks tended to be higher in counties located in the Eastern region of the United States, which included the Northeast, the Southeast, the Midwest, and the South.

"In the lung, particulate matter may promote inflammation and thereby exacerbate underlying lung disease and reduce the efficacy of lung-defense mechanisms. Cardiovascular effects may reflect neurogenic [arising in or stimulated by nerve tissues] and inflammatory processes," the authors write.

"Our findings indicate an ongoing threat to the health of the elderly population from airborne particles and provide a rationale for setting a PM2.5 National Ambient Air Quality Standard that is as protective of their health as possible," the researchers write. "The sources of particles contributing to the observed risks need to be identified so that control strategies can be targeted efficiently."
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2006 10:39 am    Post subject: Group warns against open burning Reply with quote

Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Group warns against open burning
Sun Star

BEWARE, burning trash releases health damaging air toxins, contaminates the environment and food supply, and causes fires.

As the nation observes the Fire Prevention Month, the Ecological Waste Coalition makes a public appeal to halt the toxic practice of burning discards.

Although listed as a punishable offense under Section 48 of the Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, the open burning of waste still goes on unabated.

The Coalition cites four reasons why open burning is unhealthy, un-neighborly and unnecessary:

1. Open burning damages health. Every time waste is burned, harmful pollutants, including cancer-causing dioxins, are released into the air and the remaining ash contains toxic residue. Inhaling or ingesting toxins from open burning will have serious health implications. Short-term exposure can cause eye, nose, throat, and skin irritations, lung congestion, shortness of breathing and coughing. Long-term exposure can increase the risk of cancer, heart disease, respiratory ailments, reproductive disorders and developmental problems.

2. Open burning trashes the environment. Burning destroys valuable resources such as paper, cardboard, organics and other materials, which could have been reused or cycled back into nature or commerce. Factories produce heaps of waste when making new products. It makes a lot of sense to reuse and recycle more to conserve our diminishing resources, save precious energy and reduce pollution. Also, polluting human activities, including the clearing and burning of vegetation, are increasing the amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which is causing global climate change.

3. Open burning contaminates the food supply. Chemicals released when discards are burned, particularly the notoriously toxic dioxins, are also deposited on leafy plants that are eaten by livestock. Dioxin builds up in animal fat and is passed through meat and dairy products to humans. In the food chain, dioxins can escalate to levels that are harmful to human health.

4. Open burning causes fires. Especially during the summer period, open burning can cause residential, forest and brush fires, endangering the life and health of humans and animals.

The Ecowaste Coalition offers twelve ecological practices to eliminate open burning and save ourselves from poisoned air:

* Shop wisely, consume responsibly, reduce your waste size.
* Carry reusable bags, refuse single-use plastics, go for reusable containers.
* Demand less wrapping on products you buy.
* Choose recyclable products and containers and recycle them.
* Avoid buying disposable items, buy durable and repairable products.
* Whenever available, select products made from recycled materials and use second-hand or repaired products.
* Go for non-toxic products which are safer to use, store and recycle.
* Segregate - don't mix your discards.
* Whenever possible, reuse, recycle and repair things rather than throw or replace them.
* Give away unwanted stuff to neighbors or charities.
* Turn your biodegradable waste into compost to nourish the earth.
* Inform and educate those who burn their discards about its hazards and problems, and persuade them to switch to ecofriendly practices.

Says Marie Marciano of the Ecowaste Coalition and the environmental group Salika,

"Unless you relish breathing poisoned air, do not walk past open burning in your neighborhood or elsewhere without trying to put out the fire - permanently - by educating the culprits about dioxin and its harmful effects on everyone's health. If that doesn't work, talking authoritatively about the law against open burning and the penalties for the offense usually does."

Among the many toxic chemicals released from waste burning, including burning of dumpsites, dioxin is the key concern. Described as the most toxic substance known to science, dioxin, a potent human carcinogen, has the capability to cause a range of adverse health effects in animals and people.

The Stockholm Convention, which the Philippines ratified in February 2004, aims to ultimately eliminate Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) to protect human health and the environment. The global treaty initially targets 12 POPs for priority action, including dioxins.

Other pollutants in the resulting smoke, soot and ash from open burning include volatile organic compounds, particulate matters, halogenated hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and heavy metals such as arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, and mercury.

For more information, please contact Manny C. Calonzo, Secretary, Ecowaste Coalition at 9290376.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2006 4:45 pm    Post subject: Tricycles, 2-stroke motorbikes won’t be phased out Reply with quote

Tricycles, 2-stroke motorbikes won’t be phased out

By Jerry E. Esplanada
Last updated 10:28pm (Mla time) 11/19/2006

GOOD NEWS FOR the nearly two million owners of “two-stroke” motorcycles and tricycles nationwide: The government has abandoned its plan to phase out the two- and three-wheeled vehicles which have been identified as major sources of air and noise pollution.

Instead, “their engines will be retrofitted with a direct-injection fuel system, converting them into environment-friendly modes of land transport,” according to the Public Transport Affairs Office (PTAO), an agency attached to the Office of the President.

At least 1.7 million of the 2.8 million tricycles nationwide have two-stroke engines which burn a mixture of oil and gasoline.

For the full article:
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2006 12:42 pm    Post subject: Reyes cites deadly effects of burning of tires Reply with quote

Reyes cites deadly effects of burning of tires
Publishing date: Friday, Dec. 29, 2006 (6:33 PM)
DENR, Philippines

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Angelo T. Reyes today urged the public to start the New Year right by doing away with the traditional lighting of pyrotechnics and burning of scrap tires as these lead to further environmental degradation.

“The ill-effects of setting off all sorts of firecrackers and the burning of used tires are very evident hours after the New Year revelry.” Reyes said. “The city is blanketed with smoke that irritates the eyes and the skin. There is no question that our health and environment are adversely affected.”

Reyes said that fumes coming from exploding firecrackers contain a number of harmful substances, like oxides of sulfur, phosphorous, nitrogen, carbon and toxic dusts. Based on studies, sulfur dioxide causes acid rain that destroys the ozone layer. Acid rain also affects water sources and vegetation, and cause even property damage, he added.

Carbon dioxide, on the other hand, is a major contributor to global warming while fireworks also leave solid debris which could be either biodegradable or non-biodegradable.

The environment chief stressed that “one of the best ways to welcome the New Year is to keep our environment cleaner and safer for all. There are other ways to celebrate the event, like blowing a horn.”

Reyes said the black plume emitted by burning scrap tires could threaten the people’s health, particularly the elderly and children, Reyes said.

Depending on the length and degree of exposure, Reyes said, the health effects of air emissions from tire fires include irritation of the skin and eyes, respiratory effects, and worse is cancer.

Among air pollutants emitted by burning scrap tires are particulates, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, dioxins, furans, benzene, and some metals like arsenic, cadmium, nickel and zinc.

Reyes also warned that pyrotechnics contain fine toxic dusts (particulate matter PM10) that easily enter the lungs. Hazardous smoke can also lead to dizziness, heart disturbances, asthma attack, and respiratory illnesses like bronchitis, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, laryngitis and pneumonia, among others.

The harmful substances emanating from firecrackers and burning tires also pollute water resources, like lakes, rivers and reservoir. The polluted air will likewise linger in the atmosphere for a number of days, and it would take several weeks before the quality of air is brought to pre-New Year’s level.

Reyes called on local government officials to enjoin their constituents to observe an environment-friendly celebration in their neighborhood.
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PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2007 6:52 am    Post subject: Mystery Source of Urban Pollution Revealed Reply with quote

Mystery Source of Urban Pollution Revealed
By Charles Q. Choi, Special to LiveScience

posted: 11 May 2007 12:15 pm ET

A crucial but unknown source of molecules linked with smog has long eluded scientists trying to uncover the origins of air pollution in cities. Now researchers find the grime that builds up on windows, buildings, roads and other urban surfaces might be this mystery source.

The findings could help improve bad-air predictions and strategies to fight smog.

While grime outside cities is often just natural dirt, grime in cities is "a soup of thousands of chemical compounds," explained University of Toronto atmospheric chemist James Donaldson. These come from auto and factory emissions, dust and salt on roads, kitchen smoke, flame retardants and a menagerie of other sources.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 12:23 pm    Post subject: Invisible gases form most organic haze in urban, rural areas Reply with quote

University of Colorado at Boulder

Invisible gases form most organic haze in urban, rural areas
9 July 2007

Reactive gases, not direct emissions of particulates, form bulk of haze, says CU-Boulder study

A new study involving the University of Colorado at Boulder shows that invisible, reactive gases hovering over Earth's surface, not direct emissions of particulates, form the bulk of organic haze in both urban and rural areas around the world.

Many science and health professionals have believed sources that spew soot and other tiny particles directly into the air were the primary culprit in the formation of organic haze. But a new study by researchers at CU-Boulder's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences show aerosols formed chemically in the air account for about two-thirds of the total organic haze in urban areas and more than 90 percent of organic haze in rural areas.

The study was led by Qi Zhang, a former CIRES scientist now at the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center at State University of New York, Albany and CIRES researcher Jose-Luis Jimenez. The study was published in the July 7 online issue of Geophysical Research Letters.

The scientists compared concentrations of directly emitted, or primary, aerosols with chemically formed, or secondary aerosols. They surveyed urban areas, areas downwind of urban areas and rural areas from 37 sites in 11 countries.

"What we're seeing is that concentrations of secondary organic aerosols decrease little downwind from urban areas," said Jimenez, also an assistant professor in CU-Boulder's chemistry and biochemistry department. "That tells us there has to be an extended source or continuous formation for the pollution."

The scientists believe the extended source of particle pollution is reactive, colorless gases called Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs, the same gases that form smog. Jimenez said he believes VOCs emitted in urban and regional areas immediately begin undergoing a chemical transformation that causes them to stick to particles and increase such pollution.

"We think the gases react over a few days as the air travels downwind into more rural regions, producing more organic haze," he said.

Reactive gases are a diverse group of chemical compounds that include VOCs, surface ozone, nitrogen compounds and sulfur dioxide. All play a major role in the chemistry of the atmosphere and as such are heavily involved in interrelations between atmospheric chemistry and climate.

VOCs are released by cars and trucks, gasoline evaporation that occurs during gas station fill-ups, and some industrial processes, said Zhang. VOCs also are produced naturally by vegetation.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not currently regulate VOCs except for on-road vehicles and industrial settings, said Jimenez.

Jimenez and Zhang are working to better understand the relative importance of natural and human sources of VOCs in the production of secondary organic aerosol pollution, including which human sources significantly contribute to the problem.

"One question is whether we could improve air quality if we directly targeted VOC emissions and not just particle emissions," said Zhang. "Until we understand the breakdown between human-caused and natural VOC emissions, and between different human sources, we won't have an answer to that question."

Other groups involved in the study include the University of Manchester in England, the Paul Sherrer Institute in Villigen, Switzerland, the National Institute for Environmental Studies in Tsukuba, Japan, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder. CIRES is a joint venture of CU-Boulder and NOAA.

The study was funded in part by EPA, the National Science Foundation and NASA.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:11 pm    Post subject: Atmospheric Measuring Device for Understanding Smog Formatio Reply with quote

Atmospheric Measuring Device for Understanding Smog Formation
Brookhaven National laboratory

Quantitative assessment could lead to more effective smog-control strategies
November 19, 2007

UPTON, NY - Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed a new tool for quantitatively measuring elusive atmospheric chemicals that play a key role in the formation of photochemical smog. Better measurements will improve scientists' understanding of the mechanisms of smog formation and their ability to select and predict the effectiveness of various mitigation strategies. The Brookhaven scientists have been issued a U.S. patent for their apparatus, which is available for licensing.

The device measures atmospheric hydroperoxyl radicals - short-lived, highly reactive intermediates involved in the formation of ozone, a component of photochemical smog - in the lowest layer of Earth's atmosphere. The levels of these radicals can indicate which of a variety of chemical pathways is predominant in converting basic starting ingredients - hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, and water vapor - into smog in the presence of sunlight.

"Understanding the relative importance of the various pathways can help you tailor your mitigation strategies," said Brookhaven atmospheric chemist Stephen Springston, one of the inventors. "For example, are you better off spending your money reducing hydrocarbon emissions or nitrogen oxide emissions?"

"Our measurements will help predict which strategy would be most successful for a particular set of atmospheric conditions - and make modifications to the strategy as those conditions change," said co-inventor Judy Lloyd of the State University of New York at Old Westbury, who holds a guest appointment at Brookhaven Lab.

Because hydroperoxyl radicals are so reactive, getting accurate measurements is not easy. "These chemicals are so fragile you cannot take a bottle home with you," Springston said. "You have to measure them where they form, in the atmosphere, before they react and disappear."

Various groups have developed detectors for hydroperoxyl radicals, but these have been cumbersome and costly. The new device is comparatively small, lightweight, and inexpensive, has low power requirements, and gives a sensitive, fast response. It works by detecting a "glowing" signal from a chemiluminescent compound - similar to the compound that makes fireflies glow - when it reacts with the hydroperoxyl radicals in atmospheric samples fed into the device during flight.

"The chemiluminescence produced in solution creates a strong and readily detectable signal without the need for complex amplification procedures," said Lloyd.

The device has been tested in a mountaintop setting, but has not yet been deployed on an aircraft for a sampling mission. It is designed to be flown on atmospheric sampling aircraft, such as the Department of Energy's Gulfstream 1, which has been used by Brookhaven and other national laboratory scientists for a variety of atmospheric studies.

This work was funded by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research within the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science and by the National Science Foundation.

Note to local editors: Stephen Springston is a resident of Middle Island, New York; Judy Lloyd resides in Westbury, New York.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 2:09 pm    Post subject: UC San Diego chemists find important contributor to smog Reply with quote

University of California - San Diego
20 March 2008

UC San Diego chemists find important contributor to smog

Chemists at the University of California, San Diego have discovered that a chemical reaction in the atmosphere above major cities long assumed to be unimportant in urban air pollution is in fact a significant contributor to urban ozone—the main component of smog.

Their finding, detailed in the March 21 issue of the journal Science, should help air quality experts devise better strategies to reduce ozone for the more than 300 counties across the United States with ozone levels that exceed new standards announced last week by the Environmental Protection Agency.

It should also benefit cities in the rest of the world such as Mexico City and Beijing that are now grappling with major air quality and urban smog problems. More than 100 million people worldwide currently live in cities that fail to meet international standards for air quality.

“This study provides us with additional insight into the chemistry of urban ozone production,” said Amitabha Sinha, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UC San Diego who headed the research team. “It shows us that the chemistry of urban ozone is even more complicated than we initially assumed. With improved knowledge of how ozone is produced, we should be in a better position to control the air quality of large urban areas across the United States as well as around the world.”

Urban ozone levels peak in the afternoon hours of large cities after being generated through a complex series of chemical reactions involving the interaction of sunlight with hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides from automobile exhaust. Ozone production is initiated when hydroxyl radicals, OH, are produced from water vapor. Atmospheric chemists had long assumed that the lion’s share of the OH involved in urban ozone production is generated when ultraviolet radiation with wavelengths less than 320 nanometers dissociates ambient ozone to form excited oxygen atoms, which, in turn, react with water vapor to produce hydroxyl radicals. These OH radicals subsequently attack hydrocarbons and the resulting products combine through a series of chemical reactions with nitric oxide, NO, to produce nitrogen dioxide, NO2, and eventually ozone, O3.

Sinha’s team found in laboratory experiments that another chemical reaction also plays a significant role in urban OH radical production—perhaps comparable to that from the reaction of excited oxygen atoms with water vapor under certain conditions. This new mechanism involves reactions between water vapor and NO2 in electronically “excited states,” produced when NO2 absorbs visible light between the wavelengths of 450 to 650 nanometers.

German scientists first proposed this method of producing OH radicals in 1997. Their measurements, however, did not detect any OH radicals being formed and, as a result, they suggested that the reaction would play a fairly insignificant role in the atmosphere.

The more recent measurements by the UC San Diego team suggest that this method of OH radical production occurs at a rate that is ten times faster than previously estimated. And because radiation in the 450 to 650 nanometers wavelength range is not filtered out as effectively in the lowest portion of the atmosphere as the ultraviolet radiation in the vicinity of 320 nanometers that generate OH radicals from water vapor and ozone, Sinha and other atmospheric scientists believe it’s likely to have a major role in the formation of smog.

“Identifying the sources of atmospheric OH radical production is important to understanding how to control the ozone problem, since it is the reaction of OH radicals with hydrocarbons that ultimately leads to urban ozone,” Sinha said. “The chemistry of urban ozone production is complicated and it just got bit more complicated with the addition of this new source of OH radicals.”

Sinha’s team—which included postdoctoral fellow Shuping Li and graduate student Jamie Matthews—was able to make the most precise measurement to date of the rate of this reaction with an innovative laser technique that allowed the team to directly monitor the OH radicals with significantly higher sensitivity then previously used to study this reaction.

“It’s a relatively slow reaction with a rate that is at least a thousand times slower than that for producing OH from the reaction of excited oxygen atoms with water molecules,” said Sinha. “However, there is a lot of solar radiation coming down over the visible wavelength region, so even a slow reaction can become important. The upshot is that atmospheric models have ignored this reaction altogether, assuming that because nothing can be seen using conventional techniques, nothing must be happening.”

The research was supported in part by the Petroleum Research Fund of the American Chemical Society and the National Science Foundation.
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