Category Archives: air pollution

Air Pollution from New and Shutdown Industries, a Big Danger to Public Health


During the time when the Hurricane Harvey hit the coastal part of Texas last year, a lot of industrial companies had to close their operations before the storm reached and resurfaces itself once the rainfall and flooding subsided.

New and shutdown industries, as well as the damages caused by the storm, led to the release of air pollution around the city. Within that period of time, lots of information where gotten from Texas’ Air Emission Event Report Database indicated that about two thousand tons of greenhouse gases were released in these areas.

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However, the emission that came from the new and shutdown industry which are often referred to as “excess” or “upset” emissions are predominant anytime there are natural disasters, and such is the case with the Hurricane Harvey.

Moreover, in a new study that was published recently in the Journal of Environmental Science & Technology, the release of greenhouse gases often occur when these industries perform their activities with their facilities. Even though some of the releases of the gases are often unintended or inevitable, the gases released during these activities are in the violation of the U.S Clean Air Act (CAA).

When the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revisited the rules pertaining these air pollutants, a new study shows that these gases are dangerous to public health and how they have not been thoroughly traced across the country or regulated comprehensively is still surprising.

The Increased Emissions in Texas

Texas as a city has been a victim of the increased air pollution which as posed lots of environmental threats to its citizens. Our research study inspects the excess emissions from the industrial facilities in Texas from 2012 to 2016. The reason why Texas is a case study and why we are focused on it is due to the fact that the city has brought lots of comprehensive reports. However, it is important to know that the state has lots of information concerning the release of greenhouses gases such as benzene that has caused detrimental effects on people.

Furthermore, the states are propelled to set limits when it comes to the emissions from industrial facilities based on their State Implementation Plan (SIP), which is a plan to meet the CAA requirements. Also, the EPA itself, readily ensures that every state’s SIP is drafted in accordance with the CIA.

The CAA requires that the facilities from industries need to be checked and maintained in order to limit the emissions of these dangerous gases into the atmosphere. Notwithstanding, excess emissions occur as a result of the decline of some facilities such as scrubbers, baghouses, or flares that help to decrease emissions.

Though we may think that happenings like these are rare, we have found that excess emissions in Texas are occurring very frequently, thus, affecting individuals in areas where the emissions unconstrained.

From the study, it has been discovered that 77,000 tons of excess emissions were released from natural gas liquid industries in 2004 to 2015, thus, signifying about 58% of the industry’s routine emissions for pollutants. Also, refineries released 23,000 tons of excess emissions, while oil and gas fields released 11,000 tons.

Outside of Texas

The reports we have stated in our study exposes the magnitude of the emissions of greenhouses. Although, it is important to also know that the study only captures the situation in Texas. However, when it comes to places beyond Texas, we know very little about the excess emissions at the national level and this is due to the fact that Texas is one of the few states that thoroughly track the progress of the emission of greenhouses.

The Increased Release of Greenhouse Gases are Under-regulated

It is important to note that the EPA made adequate efforts to curtail the problem of emissions during the last days of Obama administration.

Propelled by a lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club, the EPA issued a State Implementation Plan (SIP) call in 2015, requesting every state to limit the way greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere. The agency discovered that some SIP provisions in 36 states were considered insufficient to meet the Clean Air Act (CAA) requirements. This implies that various industrial facilities may have been regularly surpassing the limit of their permitted pollution limits, because of these emissions.

However, the EPA is now taking a look back to its policy as part of the Trump administration’s broader efforts to revert many decisions made in past administration. Due to the magnitude and the adverse effects of the emissions of greenhouse gases, the EPA’s ultimate decision on how states should treat excess emissions is important.

With all of these in mind, there are more things to learn when it comes to the way greenhouses gases are emitted all over the world. However, if an effective regulatory structure is designated to decrease them, then it is vital that every state should begin to track the excess occurrence of the emission of greenhouse gases, by taking Texas as an example.

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

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China Makes Move to Limit Air Pollution by Ending the Production of Over 500 Car Models


China has made a vital move to stop air pollution by ending the production of more than 500 car models and other model versions that do not meet the economy’s fuel criteria. It is important to note that 535 car models have been affected. However, China’s move to curb air pollution by putting a ban on these car models have been announced on the official state news agency this week.

Furthermore, the suspension of these car models has taken an immediate effect since Jan. 1 2018. Cars that do not meet the country’s fuel economy standards, plus vehicles produced from internal manufacturers such as Cherry Automobile Co, Limited, and also models from FAW-Volkswagen and Beijing Benz Automotive have been affected.

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China’s move was apparent to “shake” the car manufacturing sector which boasts of 28 million vehicles produced in 2016. Nevertheless, China has lots of small-scale car manufacturers, in which some of these manufacturers produce more than a hundred cars annually. The government has made adequate efforts to merge its automobile sector, which is a factor that has played a major role in the suspension.

Moreover, the secretary general of the China Passenger Car Association, Cui Dongshu has said that the suspension of car models in China would only affect 1% of the Chinese market. Although, China’s decision to deregister the fuel economy on different versions of car models is a good sign of the commitment the government has to combat air pollution that is resulting in climate change. The Chinese government has set out plans to promote electric vehicles in order to encourage a better environment.

Before now, China has placed more priority on economic growth than protecting the environment and produced more than half of greenhouse gases, but it has resurfaced as a stronghold to combat climate-change after several actions from the U.S government in the rejection of the Paris climate accord.

However, the Chinese government is under much pressure to dive into the problem of air pollution and put a halt to it once and for all. Several effects of air pollution have caused serious panic to the Chinese populace; there have been situations where air pollution has forced schools and businesses to shut down briefly. Late last year, China made plans to have the largest carbon market across the globe, thus, offering lots of Chinese big businesses a financial spur to operate freely.

The president of Dunne Automobiles, Michael Dunne, has said that “China is sending an immense message across the world”. It is important to note that Dunne Automobiles is a Hong Kong-based company in China’s automobile sector.

Furthermore, it is also necessary to note that China has now emerged as the world’s biggest sponsor of electric cars; it has also offered incentives to car manufacturers to produce electric vehicles. Although, these incentives will be replaced by quotas in 2 years’ time for the number of electric cars that must be sold. This plan has urged lots of automobile manufacturers to increase the pace in the production of electric vehicles.

By contrast, the U.S under the leadership of President Donald Trump has considered withdrawing its support from plans to combat change, thus, killing the tax credit for battery-powered cars in its recent tax overhaul.

However, considering the fact that big automobile manufacturers such as Dongfeng Motor Corporation were not spared, says so much about China’s commitment to fight air pollution and achieve their goals as soon as possible, thereby, not giving-in to favoritism to the “big players” in the automobile industry, says Bruce M. Belzowski, of the Automotive Futures group at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

China’s commitment has surprised other governments across the world today; this is due to the fact it has never indulged itself to take-up adequate measures on emission standard, not until now. At the moment, the Chinese government is empowering automobile manufacturers in the country to catch-up with the latest trend in making “clean cars”.

Mr. Dunne has made it known that “the latest stride is a recent indication of how fast their own automobile manufacturers have emerged and they are showing no signs of slowing down”.

Nevertheless, other foreign automobile manufacturers had to tally the effect of the ban on Tuesday. Manufacturers such as Volkswagen, General Motors, Honda, etc. have placed lots of probes. BMW, which is one of the biggest automobile industry has said that the company is not yet prepared for any statement.

Moreover, Engadget has stated that “the ban on vehicles that don’t meet the emission standards stands contrasts with the U.S. The Republican tax plan which has been released does not have adequate plans that would take out the EV tax credit, but only the spurs to move for environmental-friendly vehicles, which have little possibility to survive, due to the efforts of the current government to protect fossil fuels at all costs.

On the hand, the Chinese government is increasing its pace in the production of greener cars, because it has no option. Air pollution is imposing detrimental effects on China; due to this reason, the Chinese government is looking for adequate means to sustain the health of its residents.

Image credit: flickr

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him. Follow him on Facebook here.

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Construction, Working and Environmental Effects of Landfill


Most of us have heard about landfills but few ever think of them as anything more that holes in the ground that get filled with trash bags. Nonetheless, landfills are a little more complex than how most of us perceive of it. A landfill is a waste disposal system where waste is buried, but the waste first goes through some processing before it is buried. Landfills are some of the most common means of waste disposal and have become increasingly popular due to the hazardous effects of burning waste, which used to be the primary technique of dealing with waste disposal for many developed and developing countries.

The uniqueness of landfills is how it allows for the burying of waste, in that, it does not cause an eyesore such as is the case with dumpsites and is completely isolated from getting into contact with groundwater or the air. Landfills also provide the added advantage of providing potential sources for energy which means that they make use of the waste in ways that no other trash storage method does.

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Construction of the landfill

Landfills work by going through a thorough process of evaluation first in order to determine where to put them and its lifetime operation. The criteria are as follows;

1. Area of land

The section of land for setting up the landfill needs to be large as not only is the actual landfill supposed to be sizable to pack enough waste, but also requires a lot of space for supporting structures that will be discussed further on. Environmental impact study also has to be done on the land before construction begins.

2. Composition of the bottom of the pit

The bottom of the pit needs to be as watertight as possible. This means that the bottom of the pit should be compacted tightly or the bedrock should not have cracks in it to prevent water from the pit leaking into ground water.

3. Surface flow of water

The flow of water from rain should also be studied in a bid to develop strategies to prevent runoff water from the landfill from making its way to rivers as well as the ground table. This means, landfills cannot be constructed near rivers and lakes and they require drainage systems to manage their surface water run-off.

4. Environmental impact assessment

This is to evaluate the damage that the project will have on the surrounding region as well as drawing up plans for contingencies that will help solve problems that the landfill might cause. The systems set up here are supposed to ensure the environment does not suffer too greatly while cushioning against any forms of accidents.

5. Historical and archaeological value of the site

Historical and archaeological valuation of the site has to be done to ensure the landfill site does not disturb land that is significant in any way either historically for the local people or on the basis of archaeological importance that would be lost. 

How Landfill Works?

Once these requirements are established, the landfill creation process can begins and this shows exactly how the landfill works. Landfills may differ in operations, structure and how they are designed, but the following are the typical structures involved.

1. Bottom Liner system

The Bottom Liner System is the section ensuring that the trash and leachate does not drain into the ground water or sip out of the landfill and make its way to other water sources or pollute the soil. The liner is usually a durable and puncture resistant material such as polyvinylchloride about a tenth of an inch (approximately 3 millimetres) thick.

2. The Cells

This is where the actual trash gets placed. As space is a precious commodity for landfills, there is a need to be very careful with how it is packed. Cells are created to allow for the allocation of specific space resources while guaranteeing optimal usage of the given land for the landfill. The packing process is especially rigorous, requiring that each cell be filled then compacted using heavy machinery to ensure maximum use of space. The resulting trash is usually packed till it becomes airtight.

Examples of cell dimensions have them placed at 15 by 15 by 4 meters. At the top of each cell, they are packed with about 6 inches of compacted soil to ensure the cell remains airtight, preventing insect and other pest penetration into the landfill.

3. Storm Water Drainage System

This is the system maintaining the dryness of the landfill by preventing water from seeping into the system. It directs surface runoff away from the landfill as well as ensuring water does not find way into rivers untreated.

4. Leachate Collection System

This system collects leachate that eventually seeps from the landfill. While trash put into the landfill is usually checked for liquids and rejected if it’s too wet, the system still generates enough liquid referred to as leachate. This liquid contains large concentrations of hazardous materials that have dissolved in it from the landfill trash over time.

It is therefore very dangerous to have it pool anywhere unmanaged or drain off into water sources. As such, the system collects the leachate and drains it out of the landfill into a collection region where it is processed just like sewage and released safely back into the natural water ways.

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5. Methane Collection System

Due to the airtight nature of the packing process, only anaerobic bacteria can survive in the landfill. These are the bacteria that do not need oxygen to survive. The bacteria break down the materials found within the landfill and produce mostly two by-products, methane and carbon dioxide.

Methane is highly flammable; therefore, letting it collect within the landfill is a dangerous option given that it might be densely packed and eventually becomes explosive. For this reason, the methane collection systems either collects the gas and use and/or sell it as a fuel source or burn it on site to reduce its concentration inside the landfill.

6. Covering or Cap

The covering cap is the last bit of material placed daily on the landfill to cover the cells. It is usually a polythene material covered in a thick layer of soil that later has trees and shrubs grown on it once the landfill is completely filled to prevent erosion. The covering is done to prevent exposure of the waste to the air, pests, and to aid on the management of bad smell.

Landfills can have very adverse effects on the environment, especially when improperly constructed. The major concerns include:

1. Leaching

Leachate is the water contained in the trash that usually seeps out over time. While management during construction ensures the trash ending up in landfills is relatively dry, some liquid is inherent within the trash and thus drains out over time. This leachate has in it dissolved organic and non-organic material and minerals. It is also usually acidic. This can cause horrendous changes in the pH levels of the soil around the landfill as well as change its chemical composition.

2. Methane as a greenhouse gas

Methane gas, as previously discussed, is extremely volatile and could easily cause problems. However, its biggest contribution to the environmental problem is that, it is a greenhouse gas. In this view, methane gas could contribute to the global warming. The situation is even made worse by the possible human errors that could contribute to problems such as accidental release of the gas due to negligence.

3. Other gases similarly cause air pollution and health problems to humans

Some other gases also tend to be produced in the landfills especially when ammonia and bleach mix. These gases can cause health problems and reduce the quality of life because of the bad smell. Besides, it can be particularly dangerous because of the tendency of converting landfills into recreational parks at the end of their lifecycle.

4. Potential fire hazard

Another huge concern is the potential fire hazard that landfills pose. Poor construction of landfills could leave enough room in the structure for air to make its way in. The produced methane gas could then easily mix with the air and ignite to start a fire. The trash within the landfill could then burn, heating to very high temperature as it burns due to its construction, the same way an oven burns, with all the compacted material above and below it. Such an occurrence could make the fires very hard to put out. Furthermore, the fire could cause the leachate to spread when attempts are made to put out the fire.

5. Soil erosion and dust

During the construction of landfills, a lot of soil is disturbed that leads to increased dust in the air. Also, the dust could rise after the completion of the project if shrubs and plants are not planted appropriately on top of the cap. Moreover, soil erosion could occur during the whole process of moving dirt as well as over time as the cap on the landfill slowly gets attacked by surface water run-off and wind.

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

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Air Pollution is Endangering Human Procreation, Research Shows


Air Pollution is Endangering Human Procreation, Research Shows

The effects of air pollution to man is not strange; with the adverse results of air pollution to the ozone layer and human health, man has been looking for adequate answers to solve problems that are associated with these effects. However, air pollution is now the biggest problem on environmental health, and researchers say that about 3.7 million premature deaths occur annually – this is from a 2012 survey. Furthermore, a new research has already indicated that air pollution can even harm a baby in the womb.

Lots of scientists at the imperial college have found a connection of road traffic pollution to cause harmful effects on the health of unborn babies. This is due to the fumes from exhaust, soot, and dust from the road traffic. In this research, more than a million infants were studied and it was proposed that pregnant women exposed to air pollution from roads are liable to endanger their newborns without them knowing it, thus, giving birth to babies with low birth weights. Although, in this research, the noise pollution from road traffic does not have any effects on babies’ health.

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Air pollution causes an alteration in human sperm, premature births, and low birth weights, thus, imperiling human procreation according to research.

Furthermore, it is essential to know that, the low birth weight of a baby (below 5 pounds) may cause serious health damages to an infant, and such health problems may include, breathing problems, susceptibility to infections, and a decrease in blood sugar. Most babies with low birth weight are more likely to have diabetes, heart diseases, and other related diseases than babies born at normal conditions.

The research was carried out in London, and the researchers have also proposed that their results do not only apply to London alone but to other countries all over the globe and they are pleading on the administration of every country to challenge the problems of polluting automobiles in their cities.

The study made in London was published on Wednesday in the British Medical Journal, and this study is in line with a recent survey made by UNICEF which proposed that about 17 million babies below one year are at a high risk of health damage due to the inhalation of toxic air around their environment which could distort their cognitive development.

With the study made in Britain (London), scientists have also studied the birth weights of more than 500,000 infants that are born between 2006 and 2010. They have also associated the results with the amount of air pollution in traffics.

Moreover, damages associated with air pollution begin in a man’s sperm. In another recent research done in Taiwan, scientists from Chinese University of Hong Kong analyzed about 6,475 men from the age 14 to 49 and they have proposed that the increase in the exposure of air pollution of a man may cause a distortion in a man’s sperm. According to the research, most of the participants involved are not smokers and they are not chronic alcohol drinkers.

Also, from an article gotten from Newsweek on air pollution, it has been affirmed that air pollution imposes a greater percentage risk in the distortion of a man’s sperm. This is because air pollution contains lots of harmful particles and heavy metals. These harmful particles and metals include CO (Carbon monoxide), SO2 (Sulphur IV Oxide), Cadmium, and cyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These particles and metals are known to be carcinogenic, hence, causing harmful effects on the quality of semen.

With the existence of harmful chemicals today, the probability of couples getting pregnant is getting low and about 48.5 million couples are affected by this problem. Infertility is on the rise and lots of researchers have advocated for worldwide plans in the mitigation of air pollution to enhance reproductive health.

Once a woman becomes pregnant successfully, it is important to ensure that safety measures are taken into special consideration due to the pollution in road traffics. Because pollution on road traffic imposes a greater health risk on a developing fetus.

An editorial piece on air pollution in the New York Times has also affirmed that the normal fine particulate matter 2.5 of the United States Environmental Protection Agency is 12 micrograms per cubic meter. Although, when it comes to WHO, it is lesser with a limit of 10 micrograms per cubic meter. It is important to know that there is a no level that measures the best safety when it comes to air pollution; this affirmation was done by a study in the Imperial College of London.

There are no doubts that lots of scientists believe that the need to impose environmental policies is essential, this will help to decrease the amount of road pollution in situations like road traffic; if these policies are not put in place, the future of man is dire. Certainly, it is high time we look into the counsels made by Lloyd to ban the use of vehicles because they impose harmful effects on our cities.

The post Air Pollution is Endangering Human Procreation, Research Shows appeared first on Conserve Energy Future.

Electric Cars Are Now Cheaper to Own Than Petrol Cars


It wasn’t too long ago that electric cars were considered a dream of the future, unattainable by most working class citizens. But according to new research, this may no longer be the case.

In countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan, electric cars have become much more cost-effective to use and own, especially in the long-term, as found by this study. In the United States, research was conducted in Texas and California, while the study encompassed all of the other two aforementioned countries.

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This information comes at the same time as a rapid rise in the sales of electric cars in occurring, and the researchers find it fair to theorize that this is a direct result of the lower costs. Currently, the low prices is assisted by government support, though electric cars are still expected to naturally become the most inexpensive option in the near future.

The study in question was conducted by Kate Palmer, James E. Tate, Zia Wadud, and John Nellthor at the University of Leeds, UK, and it involved recording and analyzing the entirety of the cost of owning a car over the course of four years. This included all details involved with purchasing, using, and maintaining a car, including original price, fuel consumption, maintenance costs, and taxation and insurance fees.

Cars that ran entirely on electricity had the lowest fuel costs of all car options, as charging the car is much more low cost than filling up with gas, diesel, or petrol. The simpler and easier to maintain engines incurred lower maintenance costs thanks to their extra functions, which includes eliminating the need for brake pad replacements as the engine assists in braking the car on its own. In fact, in the UK, running and owning an electric car was 10% less expensive than doing the same for a petrol car as of 2015.

Meanwhile, hybrid cars did not follow in this fashion. Due to an inability to plug in and charge, they were often actually more expensive than their petrol counterparts. Hybrids that can be plugged in actually were even more expensive to own, especially when it came to the initial purchase, as buyers would basically need to pay for two engines, doubling the price. (It is worth noting that this is not the case in Japan as plug-in hybrids in that country have more subsidies.)

The researches, in a statement led by James Tate, expressed feelings of encouragement as his team predicts that purely electric cars will become even more inexpensive in the future, with car battery costs for this kind of vehicle lowering in the coming years. This is in spirit of sales subsidies, which are about $6,750 in the UK and $8,780 in Japan at this moment, but are predicted to slowly fall. The researchers estimated that by the year 2025, an electric car may be just as inexpensive to buy, own, and use as a petrol car – though some companies, like Renault, estimate that this will happen before that in the 2020’s.

Sales of electric cars have had a significant increase in recent years. For example, in the UK, the rise is as much as 37%, while diesel automobile vehicles have dropped by 30%. This is in lieu with increased concerns regarding air pollution, especially from vehicles and cars that use diesel gas. In fact, at the rate they’re going, electric cars – which do not produce nearly as much carbon emissions that contribute to global warming – could outsell diesel vehicles by May 2019. This is according to Matt Finch, an analyst at the United Kingdom Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.

The push to roll out electric cars, which produce less climate-warming carbon emissions, has been supercharged by concerns over air pollution, particularly from diesel cars. In the UK, where toxic air is at illegal levels in most urban areas, sales of diesel vehicles have plummeted by 30% in the last year while sales of electric cars, which produce 50% less greenhouse gases than petrol cars, have soared by 37%.

Currently, however, demand for electric cars is far greater than the supply manufactured. The main issue behind this has been suggested to be due to the fact that there are good electric cars prices at the low and high ends, but none in the medium price range, where most families who which to purchase family cars will be turning their attention.

Meanwhile, concerns regarding the worsening state of the environment and air pollution continue to rise around the world, particularly in China, which has the largest market of electronic cars worldwide that continues to grow day by day. The rest of the world has yet to catch up, as petrol companies and traditional fuel car manufacturers continue to push to make their own products and sales.

This may come with some unfavorable downsides, as governments may begin to tax electric cars when petrol and fuel sales start to drop, according to Steve Gooding, the director of the Royal Automobile Club Foundation for Motoring Ltd. The transition to more electric cars would also require more public chargers, which good charging speeds and powers that can match up to the needs of users.

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.

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