Thursday, August 21, 2014

Household Air Pollution Intervention Tool 'HAPIT'

Professor Kirk Smith's Research Group at the University of California, Berkeley, developed a simple, web-based tool (Household Air Pollution Intervention Tool 'HAPIT') to allow policy-makers, donors, non-governmental organizations, project developers, and researchers to quickly compare the impacts of various cooking technologies on human health at the national level.

The tool facilitates easy-to-use impact comparisons by combining data and calculations from several sources. Health impacts are estimated by using recent findings from the 2010 Global Burden of Disease report results, including the latest exposure-response relationships caused by household air pollution for child pneumonia, heart disease, and other diseases. The tool also derives simple cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit estimates based on the World Health Organization WHO-CHOICE methods.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Global Glacier Mass Lost Due to Anthroporgenic Emissions

Published in Science - Abstract - The ongoing global glacier retreat is affecting human societies by causing sea-level rise, changing seasonal water availability, and increasing geohazards. Melting glaciers are an icon of anthropogenic climate change. However, glacier response times are typically decades or longer, which implies that the present-day glacier retreat is a mixed response to past and current natural climate variability and current anthropogenic forcing. Here, we show that only 25 ± 35% of the global glacier mass loss during the period from 1851 to 2010 is attributable to anthropogenic causes. Nevertheless, the anthropogenic signal is detectable with high confidence in glacier mass balance observations during 1991 to 2010, and the anthropogenic fraction of global glacier mass loss during that period has increased to 69 ± 24%.

Mercury Pollution Trippled in Oceans Since 1850's

Globally, oceans contain roughly 60,000 to 80,000 tons of mercury pollution, according to a report published this week in Nature detailing the first direct calculation of mercury pollution in the world's oceans. Ocean waters shallower than about 300 feet (100 meters) have tripled in mercury concentration since the Industrial Revolution, the study found, and mercury in the oceans as a whole has increased roughly 10 percent over pre-industrial times. North Atlantic waters showed the most obvious signs of mercury pollution, since surface waters there sink to form deeper water flows. In contrast, the tropical and Northeast Pacific were relatively unaffected. "We don't know what that means for fish and marine mammals, but likely that some fish contain at least three times more mercury than 150 years ago," and possibly more, lead researcher Carl Lamborg of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution said. "The next 50 years could very well add the same amount we've seen in the past 150." This article @ Yale 360

Abstract from the Nature magazine

Mercury is a toxic, bioaccumulating trace metal whose emissions to the environment have increased significantly as a result of anthropogenic activities such as mining and fossil fuel combustion. Several recent models have estimated that these emissions have increased the oceanic mercury inventory by 36–1,313 million moles since the 1500s. Such predictions have remained largely untested owing to a lack of appropriate historical data and natural archives. Here we report oceanographic measurements of total dissolved mercury and related parameters from several recent expeditions to the Atlantic, Pacific, Southern and Arctic oceans. We find that deep North Atlantic waters and most intermediate waters are anomalously enriched in mercury relative to the deep waters of the South Atlantic, Southern and Pacific oceans, probably as a result of the incorporation of anthropogenic mercury. We estimate the total amount of anthropogenic mercury present in the global ocean to be 290 ± 80 million moles, with almost two-thirds residing in water shallower than a thousand metres. Our findings suggest that anthropogenic perturbations to the global mercury cycle have led to an approximately 150 per cent increase in the amount of mercury in thermocline waters and have tripled the mercury content of surface waters compared to pre-anthropogenic conditions. This information may aid our understanding of the processes and the depths at which inorganic mercury species are converted into toxic methyl mercury and subsequently bioaccumulated in marine food webs.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Curbing Coal Consumption in Beijing

Beijing is stepping up its efforts to improve its air quality – even cracking down on outdoor barbecues, which are illegal under regulations covering air pollution control. But it is the city’s changing attitudes to its coal-fired power plants that are likely to have most impact in its battle against the smog. Read the article @ World Coal

According to Reuters, China’s capital has cut its coal use by 7% this year and will ban the fuel altogether by 2020, switching to cleaner, natural gas-fired plants. Last month, the city government also announced it would enforce a ban on the use of high-sulfur coal – the first time such broad controls have been implemented in the Asian giant.

The government has also announced plans to integrate Beijing with the surrounding province of Hebei, where much of the pollution that clouds the city’s skies originates, and the port city of Tianjin. The three areas will be treated as a single entity when it comes to pollution control, with unified industrial and emissions standards.

The region had already agreed to cut coal use by 63 million t this year with the bulk of that – 40 million t – to come from Hebei.