Friday, January 31, 2014

Air Pollution and Asthma

Michael Brauer, a professor in UBC’s School of Population and Public Health, on the link between air pollution, genes and asthma.

Can traffic pollution lead to childhood asthma?

Yes, living in areas with high levels of traffic-specific pollution does appear to cause the development of asthma in children. In addition, air pollution in general can act to worsen asthma in those people who already have this disease.

Do genetics play a role?

As part of our recent Traffic, Asthma and Genes (TAG) study, my team and I looked at data from 15,000 children in Canada and Europe, cataloguing the distance of their residences from busy roads, exposure to traffic-related air pollution (TrAP), presence of other asthma and allergy risk factors and ten targeted genetic variants. We found that children with specific genetic profiles had a significantly greater risk of developing asthma in high TrAP environments. Most dramatically, TrAP-exposed children with one variant of the GSTP1 gene had double the expected risk.

What does this mean in terms of a public health strategy?

It tells us that person’s genes and living conditions work in tandem to increase the risk of asthma. To get a clear grasp of the impact pollution might have on respiratory health and subsequently to create suitable prevention strategies, we need to take into account the genetic vulnerabilities within the population.

We also know that when people move away from high-traffic areas, their risk of heart disease decreases, and new evidence is showing that the same may very well be true for asthma.

Prof. Michael Brauer is an expert on the health impacts of traffic-related air pollution. Read his latest study, published January 27 in Environmental Health Perspectives journal. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Delhi Ranks 1st Among the World Cities With the Worst Air Quality

It’s no surprise that pollution is a perpetual problem in India. But it’s definitely disheartening to hear that India has slipped 32 ranks in the global Environment Performance Index (EPI) 2014 to rank a lowly 155 and its capital Delhi has earned the dubious tag of being the world’s most polluted city.

Link to the article @ Hindustan Times.

A comparative study of 178 countries on nine environmental parameters released earlier this month by the US-based Yale University shows that one of the world’s fastest growing economies is a disaster on the environmental front.

What’s worse, India’s pollution levels could be playing havoc with the health of its citizens. “A bottom performer on nearly every policy issue included in the 2014 EPI, with the exception of forests, fisheries and water resources, India’s performance lags most notably in the protection of human health from environmental harm,” said a statement issued by Yale. The study described India’s air pollution as the worst in the world, tying with China in terms of the proportion of population exposed to average air pollution levels exceeding WHO thresholds.

A deeper look at the data gathered by a Nasa satellite showed that Delhi had the highest particulate matter 2.5 pollution levels followed by Beijing. Delhi, with 8.1 million registered vehicles, has repeatedly beaten the Chinese capital on particulate matter pollution.

The high PM2.5 pollution caused by high vehicle density and industrial emissions is the reason for the dense smog that has been engulfing Delhi during the winter months in the last few years, with adverse health implications. And while Beijing’s infamous smog has hogged headlines and prompted government action, even led to the announcement of rewards for cutting back on pollution, the dangers in Delhi have been largely ignored.

According to a study by the Harvard International Review, every two in five persons in Delhi suffer from respiratory ailments. The Lancet’s Global Health Burden 2013 report termed air pollution the sixth biggest human killer in India. The WHO last year termed air pollution carcinogenic.
Particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5 in shorthand) are fine enough to lodge deep in human lung and blood tissue and cause diseases ranging from stroke to lung cancer, the Yale study said.

Anumita Roy Chaudhary, executive director of Delhi-based advocacy group Centre for Science and Environment, said policy-makers have failed to take the kind of action needed to check phenomenal growth in air pollution in India. “The gains of the introduction of CNG in 2000 have been lost. We are heading for dark days if policy-makers fail to wake up to the growing environmental health hazard,” she said.

The Central Pollution Control Board’s report of 2011 said only two cities, Kochi and Coimbatore, met the national ambient air quality standards, which are six times higher than WHO standards. Air pollution in half of the 280 Indian cities monitored has been termed critical or hazardous for human health. “Air pollution levels in almost all cities are on the upward trend,” said a CPCB scientist.

India Ranked 155th Among 178 Countries in the 2014 Environmental Performance Index

A global analysis of how nations tackle environmental challenges has ranked India 155 among 178 nations and labelled the country’s air quality among the worst in the world, tying it with China in exposing its population to hazardous air pollution.

Image from the Telegraph India.
The Environmental Performance Index 2014, generated by researchers at Yale University in the US, has bracketed India among “bottom performers” on several indicators such as environmental health impact, air quality, water and sanitation.

Compared with EPI 2010 — when India ranked 123 among 163 countries — the rank of 155 now among 178 countries suggests that the country’s position has worsened since then. Fifteen countries were added since 2010 but India’s position fell by 32 notches.

Read the full article @ Telegraph India.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Defending Delhi's Air Quality?

Delhi's air quality is indeed very poor but not as poor as Beijing's, claim scientists. After an international newspaper recently reported that Delhi's air quality this January has been worse than Beijing's, System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) - under the Union earth sciences ministry - issued a clarification on Tuesday.

An emissions inventory for Delhi @ 1kmx1km resolution

Link to the article in Times of India.

Delhi's Air Quality is Twice as Bad as Beijing

Data from nine monitoring stations in Delhi states that PM2.5 (fine respirable particles) never crossed 350 micrograms per cubic metre while in Beijing it did cross 500 microgram per cubic metre and went up to 650 micrograms per cubic metre. The levels of PM2.5 are crucial because their impact on health is far more serious than that of PM10 (coarse particles). Since these particles are very small in size, they can easily enter the body and affect lung function. They are associated with increased rates of chronic bronchitis, mortality from lung cancer and heart disease. The standard for PM2.5 levels is 60 microgram per cubic metre.

Beijing's Bad Air Quality is a Step Up for Smoggy Delhi

"It is true that Delhi is reeling under very poor air quality. But in terms of concentration of pollutants, we are doing far better than Beijing which has declared emergency conditions because of their air quality. Our PM10 (coarse particles) and PM2.5 are both high but not extreme. High PM 10 levels in Delhi can be attributed to road and construction dust while high PM2.5 levels in Delhi can be attributed to incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass," said Gufran Beig, chief project scientist at SAFAR.

Air Pollution in Delhi - Winter Time Highs and Blame Games

Several air pollution experts and environment ministry officials sought clarification from IITM on whether Delhi had poorer air than Beijing. Scientists claim that one of the reasons why there could have been a misunderstanding about Delhi's air quality is because the hourly values are often not representative of the 24 hour average. "What matters is the exposure of well-mixed ambient air on a longer period," said Sunil Peshin from Indian meteorological department.

Real Time Air Quality and Air Quality Index for Delhi, India

However, there is no doubt about the fact that Delhi's air quality is one of the poorest in the world and that emissions in the capital are on a steady rise. TOI had reported on Monday how PM 2.5 emissions, which were 94.26 Gg/year in 2010, had increased to 107.5 Gg/year by 2013. This increasing trend was particularly seen over Rajiv Chowk, Sansad Bhawan, India Gate, IGI airport, Okhla industrial area, Pragati Maidan, IP estate and Janakpuri.

Health impacts of air pollution in Delhi

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Air Pollution News & Alerts - January 28th, 2014

Xinhua Net, January 28th, 2014
China to forecast air quality to reduce firework pollution.

Campaign Asia, January 28th, 2014
China Air Pollution - A Green Opportunity for Brands.

NPR, January 28th, 2014
Entrepreneurs Looking For 'Windfall' Cash In On Climate Change.

Yale 360, January 28th, 2014
How Rise of Citizen Science Is Democratizing Research.

Slate, January 27th, 2014
New Delhi's Air Pollution Is Twice As Bad As Beijing's.

New York Times, January 27th, 2014
Journalists on the Environment Beat Look Ahead.

The City Fix, January 27th, 2014
Lessons in promoting bicycle use: The case of the Netherlands.

Sciene Daily, January 27th, 2014
Asian ozone pollution in Hawaii is tied to climate variability.

Huffington Post, January 27th, 2014
Beijing Wages War Against Pollution As Mayor Prepares 'All-Out Effort' To Tackle Growing Concerns.

Washington Post, January 26th, 2014
China’s air pollution prompts creative, sometimes wacky, solutions.

Times of India, January 26th, 2014
Delhi's air quality worse than one of world's most polluted cities Beijing.

The Guardian, January 26th, 2014
Past power failures 'dress rehearsals' for frequent future blackouts.

New York Times, January 25th, 2014
Beijing’s Bad Air Would Be Step Up for Smoggy Delhi.

Economic Times, January 25th, 2014
Black carbon in air a worry.

Business Standard, January 24th, 2014
Extreme air pollution in Asia affecting world's weather.

The Guardian, Janaury 24th, 2014
Al Gore: 'extreme weather has made people wake up to climate change'.

The Guardian, January 24th, 2014
More global warming will be worse for the economy, says the Copenhagen Consensus Center.

The City Fix, January 24th, 2014
Then and now: Film clip captures San Francisco’s urban transformation.

NRDC Switchboard, January 24th, 2014
Clearing the Air on Electric Cars and Pollution.

Santiago Times, January 24th, 2014
Growing pains: the link between smog and heart disease in Santiago.

The Guardian, January 24th, 2014
China looks to snuff out New Year fireworks to combat air pollution.

Financial Express, January 24th, 2014
Rising Pollution in Dhaka Requires Low-Carbon Investments.

Zee News, January 23rd, 2014
Why e-vehicles in India can't reduce air pollution.

ECNS, January 23rd, 2014
Straw burning to be banned in Shanghai.

This is Beijing, Janaury 23rd, 2014
Beijing passes strict air pollution regulation.

Global Cement, January 23rd, 2014
Beijing bans new cement, refining, steel, coal and power plants.

Science Daily, January 23rd, 2014
Changing Climate: How Dust Changed the Face of Earth.

The Guardian, January 23rd, 2014
EU 2030 climate deal meets UK's core demands of ambitious cuts and choice.

Eco Geek, January 22nd, 2014
More Efficient Flight in Formation.

Science Daily, January 22nd, 2014
Small Towns Team Up to Power Down.

NPR, January 22nd, 2014
Calif. Air Quality Affected By Lack Of Rain.

Science Daily, January 22nd, 2014
Particulate Air Pollution Leads to Increased Heart Attack Risk.

Telegraph, January 22nd, 2014
City pollution increases risk of heart attack.

BBC, January 22nd, 2014
EU air pollution target 'still too high' for heart health.

Huffington Post, Janaury 22nd, 2014
China's Pollution Efforts Only A Fifth Of What's Needed, Must Spend $330 Billion More To Do Fair Share.

Grist Magazine, January 22nd, 2014
Beijing bans new power plants to help clear the air.

Power Engineering, January 22nd, 2014
‘We must not demonise coal’ – German environment minister.

World Coal, January 22nd, 2014
Coal drying in Europe – Part 1.

Times Standard, January 21st, 2014
Beijing air pollution at dangerously high levels.

Frontier Post, January 21st, 2014
Indian coal plants causing fog, pollution in Pakistan.

Two Circles, January 21st, 2014
Bengal must consider cycling essential part of transport.

World Coal, January 21st, 2014
King Coal dominates UK power generation.

Science Daily, January 21st, 2014
Air Pollution from Asia Affecting World's Weather.

Science Daily, January 20th, 2014
Made in China for Us: Air Pollution Tied to Exports.

Phys.Org, January 20th, 2014
First infrared satellite monitoring of peak pollution episodes in China.

Yale 360, January 16th, 2014
Indian Microgrids Aim to Bring Millions Out of Darkness.

Scientific American, January 16th, 2014
What a Transportation Revolution in China Looks Like.

UB Post, January 16th, 2014
Sharyn Gol mine to produce clean fuel briquettes for Mongolians.

BBC, January 16th, 2014
Sherburn-in-Elmet tyre fire smoke visible from space.

China Daily, January 16th, 2014
Shanghai schools to close on heavily polluted days.

Times of India, January 16th, 2014
Beijing air pollution at dangerously high levels.

Chicago Tribune, January 16th, 2014
Beijing's mayor urges "all-out effort" to curb air pollution.

Times of India, January 16th, 2014
Air quality at 'critical' level in the past three days.

Treehugger, January 15th, 2014
This scary map shows the health impacts of coal power plants in China.

Reuters, January 15th, 2014
China's Shanghai announces new measures to curb pollution.

Global Times, January 15th, 2014
Pollution spikes after CNY fireworks.

Power Engineering, Janaury 15th, 2014
China announces massive renewable power generation plan.

World Coal, January 15th, 2014
China will boost coal railway haulage capacity to 3 billion tpa.

Sci-Dev-Net, January 15th, 2014
Technology can help India cut coal imports.

Scientific American, January 15th, 2014
A Global Transition to Renewable Energy Will Take Many Decades.

India Education Diary, January 14th, 2014
Advanced Vehicular emissions and fuel quality norms are the need of the hour.

4-Traders, January 13th, 2014
YES BANK to partner with ECT, Australia to promote Clean Coal Technology in India.

Power Engineering, January 13th, 2014
EIA: Total CO2 emissions from power generation up 2% in 2013.

Scientific American, December 13th, 2014
Will We Ever Run Out of Oil?

Scientific American, January 10th, 2014
How Dangerous Is the Coal-Washing Chemical Spilled in West Virginia?

Power Engineering, January 10th, 2014
$3.78bn Polish power plant investment gets go ahead.

Scientific American, January 9th, 2014
Switch to Natural Gas Slashes Power Plant Pollution.

Scientific American, January 9th, 2014
Switch to Natural Gas Slashes Power Plant Pollution.

Global Times, January 9th, 2014
Govt sets strict air pollution targets.

Fresno Bee, January 8th, 2014
Smoke cloud covers Chile's capital after fires.

Times of India, January 8th, 2014
Dusty roads give rise to sale of masks.

Xinhua Net, January 8th, 2014
Pollution's effect on health not clear yet.

Yale 360, January 8th, 2014
China Approves Major Increase in Huge Coal Mining Projects.

South China Morning Post, January 8th, 2014
Ex-health minister endorses finding China's smog kills 350,000 a year.

Economic Times, Janaury 8th, 2014
Only 300 restaurants in Delhi have consent of Delhi Pollution Control Committee.

ECNS, January 7th, 2014
Air pollution linked to 500,000 premature deaths in China.

Reuters, January 7th, 2014
China to crack down on green subsidy fraud by power plants.

Wall Street Journal, January 7th, 2014
The Future of Coal: New Pollution Rules Choke Old Power Plants.

UB Post, January 7th, 2014
Clean stove project concludes.

Courier Journal, January 6th, 2014
Timed traffic signals, air pollution and bikes.

ECNS, Janaury 6th, 2014
Carpooling gets legal support in Beijing.

Beijing Review, January 6th, 2014
Cleaning Up the Air.

Shanghaist, January 6th, 2014
Shanghai recorded only 8 days of 'good air' last month.

Times of India, January 4th, 2014
Can’t breathe in the winter?

China Business, January 3rd, 2014
Pollution heads south to Shanghai as steel mills driven from Beijing's environs.

People's Daily, January 3rd, 2014
Beijing sees little improvement in air quality in 2013.

UB Post, January 3rd, 2014
Ulaanbaatar welcomes a warm and clear new year.

Bloomberg, December 31st, 2013
Hong Kong’s New Pollution Index Shows Very High Health Risk.

International Business Times, December 31st, 2013
Beijing School Takes Classes Online When Air Pollution Keeps Kids Indoors.

People's China, December 31st, 2013
China's improved air standards cover more cities.

Eurasia Review, December 30th, 2013
Iran: Drying Wetlands In 40 Regions Contributing To Air Pollution.

Global Times, December 30th, 2013
Researchers identify primary sources of city air pollution.

People's China, Decmeber 30th, 2013
Finland helps Beijing combat air pollution.

Indian Express, December 30th, 2013
Air Pollution, Industrial Emissions Choking Hyderabad.

Tehran Times, December 29th, 2013
National plan for reducing air pollution will be ratified next week.

CRI English, December 27th, 2013
Shanghai's High-Rise Building Disappears in Heavy Haze.

China Times, December 27th, 2013
Air pollution penalties prove ineffective in Liaoning.

This is Beijing, December 27th, 2013
Factories halted to clear air.

English People, December 25th, 2013
‘10-year battle’ to solve city's air pollution.

The Atlantic, December 19th, 2013
China: The Year in Smog.

Really, A Giant Vacuum Cleaner to Suck Pollution?

Link to an article on Washington Post.
This animation, produced by Studio Roosegaarde, shows how a giant electrostatic "vacuum cleaner" would be used to attract smog particles. The video shows the machine miraculously cutting a small circle in the city's haze to reveal blue skies and a shining sun.

If the vacuum cleaner can suck all the pollution in the air... well

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Air Pollution from Asia Going Round the World

Extreme air pollution in Asia is affecting the world's weather and climate patterns, according to a study by Texas A&M University and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory researchers. Yuan Wang, a former doctoral student at Texas A&M, along with Texas A&M atmospheric sciences professors Renyi Zhang and R. Saravanan, have had their findings published in the current issue of Nature Communications.

Link to the article on Science Daily.

Using climate models and data collected about aerosols and meteorology over the past 30 years, the researchers found that air pollution over Asia -- much of it coming from China -- is impacting global air circulations. "The models clearly show that pollution originating from Asia has an impact on the upper atmosphere and it appears to make such storms or cyclones even stronger," Zhang explains. "This pollution affects cloud formations, precipitation, storm intensity and other factors and eventually impacts climate. Most likely, pollution from Asia can have important consequences on the weather pattern here over North America."

China's booming economy during the last 30 years has led to the building of enormous manufacturing factories, industrial plants, power plants and other facilities that produce huge amounts of air pollutants. Once emitted into the atmosphere, pollutant particles affect cloud formations and weather systems worldwide, the study shows. Increases in coal burning and car emissions are major sources of pollution in China and other Asian countries.

Air pollution levels in some Chinese cities, such as Beijing, are often more than 100 times higher than acceptable limits set by the World Health Organization standards, Zhang says. One study has shown that lung cancer rates have increased 400 percent in some areas due to the ever-growing pollution problem. Conditions tend to worsen during winter months when a combination of stagnant weather patterns mixed with increased coal burning in many Asian cities can create pollution and smog that can last for weeks.

The Chinese government has pledged to toughen pollution standards and to commit sufficient financial resources to attack the problem. "The models we have used and our data are very consistent with the results we have reached," Saravanan says. "Huge amounts of aerosols from Asia go as high as six miles up in the atmosphere and these have an unmistakable impact on cloud formations and weather." Zhang adds that "we need to do some future research on exactly how these aerosols are transported globally and impact climate. There are many other atmospheric observations and models we need to look at to see how this entire process works."

Yuan Wang, who conducted the research with Zhang while at Texas A&M, currently works at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a Caltech Postdoctoral Scholar. The study was funded by grants from NASA, Texas A&M's Supercomputing facilities and the Ministry of Science and Technology of China.

Linking Air Pollution and Heart Diseases in Santiago

Around one third of Chile’s population lives in an urban conglomeration which sits in a natural bowl, traps pollution and — according to a recent study —leads to a range of health problems including cardiovascular disease. Santiaguinos aren’t the only ones to face these health complications — nearly 90 percent of Chileans live in towns and cities. But the level of pollution in the capital, driven mainly by urban traffic, is nothing short of alarming.

Link to the article on Santiago Times.

Real Time Air Quality in Santiago and Other Chilean Cities.

A report published this month in Science of the Total Environment found that, over the study period of 3 years, some of the airborne pollution markers exceeded European safety levels three in every four days. A major contributor to the problem is geographical and atmospheric conditions. The city lies in a valley between two mountain ranges — the Andes and the Cordillera de la Costa— which traps pollutants by minimizing air circulation.

In summer months, clear skies and high temperatures only exacerbate the situation through a variety of chemical processes. For example, toxic ozone is more likely to form with high temperatures via the oxidation of carbon monoxide (CO) in the presence of nitrogen oxides. Some of the main chemical culprits in pollution include sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), CO and particulate matter. High levels of these compounds are thought to be related to ill health — in particular cardiovascular problems — and the exacerbation of pre-existing medical conditions.
The study set out find evidence for this relationship.

High pollution levels, more hospital admissions

The authors acquired data on particulate matter, CO, NO2 and O3 levels from 2004 to 2007 in seven of eight weather monitoring stations dotted around Santiago —Cerrillos, El Bosque, La Florida, La Paz, Parque O’Higgins, Providencia and Pudahuel. They compared this with Health Ministry figures on the number of hospital admissions for heart problems registered by both public and private health providers. But rather than simply testing whether there was a simple association between air pollution and hospital admissions for heart problems, the researchers applied a lagged analysis to the data. This allowed them to determine the impact that varying levels of pollution on particular days had on hospital admission — both the immediate effects and those felt over subsequent days.

Evidence backs calls for tighter controls

The report found evidence of the negative impact of pollution on physical health for the people of Santiago. During the study period levels of some, but not all, pollutants were considerably higher than both Chilean National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) and World Health Organisation standards. Also, though average levels of some pollutants were low, a large amount of daily variation meant that they become very high at certain times of day. As levels of pollutants such as NO2, CO and particulate matter increased, so too did hospital admissions for cardiovascular disease. A notable exception was ozone.

The effects were strongest either immediately or with a lag of 1-2 days, whereafter the effects tended to lessen. The authors calculate that the risk due to the exposure to airborne pollution increased hospital admissions for cardiovascular disease amounted to approximately 5 percent. Interestingly, a similar link between long-term pollution (particulate matter) and heart disease was reported in Europe this month in the British Medical Journal. This combined evidence suggests that Chile needs to enforce tighter controls on air pollution to combat the exacerbation of cardiovascular disease — particularly in Santiago where environmental conditions and heavy urbanization make the potential impact of air pollution even more devastating to individuals.

Will We Ever Run Out of Oil?

Fossil fuels such as oil come from, well, fossils—organisms that died long ago. This means there is a limited supply, and at some point we'll be tapped out. Scientific American editor David Biello explains

75,000 tons/year of Semi-coke and Briquette Production in Ulaanbaatar to Counter Air Pollution from Cookstoves

New efforts to improve environmental conditions in Ulaanbaatar are currently underway, with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) set to lend 10 million USD to Mongolian coal producers Sharyn Gol JSC for the development of plants to supply washed coal and smokeless fuel briquettes to Ulaanbaatar. The loan will allow for the acquisition and installation of a de-stoning plant and the upgrade and expansion of a coal enrichment and briquetting plant, with view to ‘cleaner coal’ being used to lessen the effects of harmful air pollution.

What is it Like Living in Ulaanbaatar?

Link to the article on UB Post.

Air Pollution in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia - Emissions, Dispersion, and Health Impacts Modeling (Journal Article)

Eric Rasmussen, EBRD Director, Natural Resources said, “We are delighted at the opportunity to be working with Sharyn Gol on this Project to improve air quality in Ulaanbaatar. We also value the Company’s commitment to make a very positive impact to the social and economic developments in the local region. We look forward to supporting the company’s strategic move into value-added clean coal products.”


Top 100 Cities with the Worst Air Quality in the World (WHO, 2011)

Ulaanbaatar is one the most polluted capitals in the world with particle emissions 10 times higher than World Health Organization guidelines. The World Bank estimates that household stoves are responsible for about 60 percent of these emissions. Much of this is a result of burning low-quality raw coal in stoves in the ger districts.

10% of the city's total mortality is due to the outdoor air pollution

By washing and briquetting raw coal, the new plants will reduce the amount of volatile matter it contains, the main pollutants emitted during burning, increase the heating value and reduce the ash content by up to a half. The bank’s energy audit estimates that the project will lead to CO2 savings of 30,000 tons per annum and lower dust emissions from the coal briquettes by 20 percent, compared to current practices. Independent estimates suggest that, when operational, the EBRD-financed project at Sharyn Gol will save some 47 lives a year.

Stoves and Air Pollution Crisis in Mongolia

The washed coal and coal briquettes from these facilities will go to industrial consumers for use in processes such as smelting and cement production, and to households for domestic heating. The expanded facilities following completion of the first phase of the project are expected to produce over 75 thousand tons of semi-coke and briquetting products per annum.

Coal Briquettes in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

With the loan, Sharyn Gol will be able to produce smokeless fuel by 2015 and contribute to improving Ulaanbaatar’s air quality, said Sharyn Gol JSC Director James Passin.

“We are honored to receive a debt financing package from the EBRD, following deep operational, financial, legal, geological, environmental, and social due diligence by the bank and its consultants. The long-term debt financing will enable Sharyn Gol JSC to accelerate its plans to turn its subsidiary NACO Fuels JSC into a producer of smokeless fuel for the Mongolian market. We anticipate that our products will make a material improvement in Ulaanbaatar’s air quality by the winter of 2015,” he said.

Sharyn Gol is a coal producer located in northern Mongolia. The company is listed on the Mongolian Stock Exchange. One of the facilities will be built by its subsidiary NACO Fuels, which is based in the town of Darkhan. The coal mine which produces coal to feed the briquetting retorts is located 215 km north of Ulaanbaatar and 50 km south-east of Darkhan.

To date, the EBRD has invested over US$ 1 billion in Mongolia, all of it in the private sector. A new EBRD strategy for Mongolia, adopted in June this year, identifies sustainable development, including mining, as one of its priorities. The latest EBRD Energy Strategy, adopted in December 2013, names energy efficiency and lower carbon transition as central elements of the Bank’s approach.

Other Air Pollution News from Ulaanbaatar

UB Post, January 7th, 2014
Clean stove project concludes.

UB Post, January 3rd, 2014
Ulaanbaatar welcomes a warm and clear new year.

UB Post, November 19th, 2013
Luxury apartment sales increases in Ulaanbaatar.

UB Post, November 19th, 2013
Mayor promotes electric cars to reduce air pollution.

UB Post, October 8th, 2013
Poison air pollutes the city.

UB Post, October 1st, 2013
UB and JICA launch second phase of air pollution control project.

UB Post, September 15th, 2013
Citizens of the city facing lung damage.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Streets of San Francisco in 1906 and Now (Video)

A new film builds on the original clip from 1906, overlaying it with present-day footage of Market Street, creating a rare and stimulating experience in which the two streetscapes can be viewed at the same time. And the contrast between the two corridors in terms of transport is stark – the contemporary scene has evolved to include priority bus lanes and a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station entrance, culminating in a seemingly more organized transport corridor than its predecessor.

Read More @ The City Fix

Friday, January 17, 2014

Imagine Breathing This - 15,000 tonnes of Tyres Go Up in Smoke in York, UK

A fire involving 15,000 tonnes of tyres has sent up a plume of smoke so huge that it can be seen from space.

Link to the article on BBC.

A Nasa satellite image shows a column of dark smoke towering into the sky and rising above the cloudy skies over Yorkshire and the north of England.

Dozens of firefighters from across Yorkshire have been at the Newgen Recycling plant in Sherburn-in-Elmet, near Leeds, since about 08:40 GMT.

The fire will "go on for days", North Yorkshire's fire chief said.

Nigel Hutchinson said the cause of the blaze at the Lennerton Lane facility was not yet known.
'Absolutely colossal'
Residents and school pupils were told to stay indoors as a plume of fumes billowed over nearby villages.

Fire Plume Reaches 6km High.

Mr Hutchinson said: "It is a significant fire and one that is difficult to tackle. It's the sort of incident that will go on for days.

"We are anticipating a large part of the stack, if not the whole stack, being involved."

He said crews would remain on site overnight and were using ground monitors to create water curtains to protect nearby buildings.

A Public Health England spokesman said there had been no reports of any people experiencing ill effects from the fire.

North Yorkshire Police said the plume of smoke was high in the sky and the risk to the public was low.

"Sheltering indoors provides protection from exposure to smoke, so we advise residents in areas affected by smoke from the fire to stay indoors and keep their doors and windows closed as much as possible to limit any exposure to smoke," a spokesman said.

An eyewitness who works at the airfield in Sherburn-in-Elmet told BBC Radio York that he could see flames the height of the hangars at the airfield - at least 20-30ft (7-10m) high.

"It's absolutely colossal. It's like a tornado when you look at it close up, with the heat swirling and all the rest. It's absolutely amazing," he said.

 Twelve schools and a children's centre have been advised to keep staff and pupils inside, according to North Yorkshire County Council.

A spokeswoman said schools would open as normal on Friday.

Environment Agency officers have been at the scene to help minimise the impact on the air and water.

Some flights at a nearby airfield have been grounded because of the smoke.

Chris Stringer, chief flight instructor at Sherburn Aero Club, said it had cut off the eastern approach to the airfield.

257,000 Premature Deaths Annually due to the Air Pollution from the Coal-Fired Power Plants in China

Air pollution from coal power plants has gotten so bad in China that it often ranks as the #1 cause of social unrest.

Link to the article on Treehugger.

A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that "life expectancy for those living in the north [of China] was about 5.5 years shorter — an effect due entirely to differences in cardio-respiratory problems, which is exactly what you’d expect if pollution was the cause." But that's just a relative measure; the life of those that aren't in the most polluted areas is also no doubt negatively affected...

Each bubble stands for a coal plant, of which China has more than 2,300 in operation.

The size of the bubble relates to the health impacts that - the analysis suggests - could be caused by illnesses brought on by the chemicals and particles emitted as a result of coal combustion in 2011.

Zoom in to see the locations of the individual plants and click on a bubble to get information on the tonnes per annum of SO2, NOx and PM2.5 emitted.

Each bubble is semi-transparent and the darker areas are where the bubbles have layered up because there is another plant – or several – nearby. The map shows the regional concentration of health impacts (indicated by premature deaths) from coal plant emissions.

Global Burden of Disease Assessments 2010

According to a breakdown of the figures, the most severe health risks caused by coal power plants are in: Henan province, with an estimated 31,400 premature deaths; Shandong province with 29,800 premature deaths; Inner Mongolia with 27,400 premature deaths; Shanxi province with 26,100 premature deaths; and Jiangsu province with 24,200 premature deaths. (source)

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Only 300 Restaurants in Delhi Have Clearance from DPCC !!

Of the thousands of eating joints operating in the national capital, only about 300 have obtained consent from Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), a special panel today informed the National Green Tribunal.

Link to the article on Economic Times.

The submission was made in the report of the nine-member committee set up by NGT to suggest measures to control water and air pollution, for solid waste management, water conservation, sanitation and hygiene, waste minimisation and better work practices by the eating joints.

Composting Wet Household Waste for Green Surroundings !!

The committee was set up while NGT was dealing with the issue of several Hauz Khas eateries operating without consent of the DPCC and discharging untreated waste.

115,000 MT of Solid Waste are Generated Every Day in India

The panel placed its 16-page report before a NGT bench of justices P Jyothimani and M S Nambiar which directed the DPCC to ensure that it is widely published so as to inform the eating joints here about the committee's recommendations as well as invite their views on the issue.

The tribunal also said that any eating joint having any objection to the suggestions may inform it.
In its report, the panel said "Ironically while issuing licences/registration, none of the agencies, ask for consent of DPCC. Consequently, till date, only about 300 hotels/ restaurants have applied for consent under Air/Water Act from DPCC while thousands are operating without obtaining any consent from DPCC," it said.

The report stated that the different civic agencies, the three municipal corporations of Delhi (North, South, East) and the New Delhi Municipal Council among them have granted 3688 licences/no objection certificates (NOCs) to eating joints while Delhi Police has granted 5493 NOCs.

"There is no denying the fact that some of these units are operating without obtaining consent from DPCC," the report stated, adding that consent to operate from DPCC be made mandatory by the registration issuing agencies, especially at the time of renewal of licence.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Mixing Heights (Inversion Layer Heights) Over Delhi

Delhi experiences extremes in climate – very hot summers and cold winters. It is a landlocked city, and hence cannot rely on breeze from the sea to carry away pollutants. A characteristic of these extremes is that the inversion layer is high in summer, but significantly lower in winter. What this means is that, emissions in winter are more concentrated because they cannot get distributed high into the atmosphere. As the graph below shows, on average mixing layer heights are almost twice as high in summer months as compared to winter. Winds are also much lower strength in winter, and hence any pollution that is created tends to stay for longer.

Role of meteorology in the seasonality of air pollution in Delhi

Mixing layer height (inversion layer height) over Delhi for the next three days, based on simulations from WRF meteorological system
Click here for other meteorological fields.