Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Air Pollution News & Alerts - April 30th, 2014

WRI, April, 2014
10 Questions to Ask About Electricity Tariffs.

The Hindu, April 30th, 2014
The road to safety.

The Guardian, April 30th, 2014
Almost half of Americans live with unhealthy levels of air pollution.

Voice of America, April 30th, 2014
Beijing Targets Kebab Vendors' Grills in War on Pollution.

Business Recorder, April 30th, 2014
Beijing says one third of its pollution comes from outside the city.

Tree Hugger, April 30th, 2014
Diesel exhaust linked to premature death (again).

Environmental Expert, April 30th, 2014
PM2.5 air pollution strongly linked to increased risk of heart attacks.

Atlantic Cities, April 30th, 2014
California's Metros Take the Prize for 2014's Most-Polluted Cities.

Atlantic Cities, April 30th, 2014
You May Be Addicted to Your Car.

Korea Times, April 29th, 2014
Korea, China, Japan agree to tackle ultrafine dust.

The Guardian, April 29th, 2014
Diesel engine pollution linked to early deaths and costs NHS billions.

Bloomberg Business, April 29th, 2014
The Supreme Court Dims the Lights on Coal Power.

TIME, April 29th, 2014
Supreme Court Ruling Will Force Power Plants To Stem Downwind Pollution.

Economic Times, April 29th, 2014
Assess water diversion to thermal plants.

Washington Post, April 29th, 2014
What if we mapped cities by how hard it is to get to work?

The City Fix, April 29th, 2014
Urban green space makes people happier than money.

Atlantic Cities, April 29th, 2014
The Year Climate Change Closed Everest.

LA Times, April 29th, 2014
L.A., Central Valley have worst air quality, American Lung Assn. says.

Steel Guru, April 28th, 2014
Coal continuing dominance in Chinese.

Latin Post, April 28th, 2014
Global Warming and Air Pollution Report: Emissions Down in Developed Nations, Rising in Developing Nations.

Times of India, April 28th, 2014
Mahagenco fly ash utilization unsatisfactory @ 63%.

Atlantic Cities, April 28th, 2014
Will Global Warming Produce More Tornadoes?

Air Quality News, April 28th, 2014
Greens: UK needs to ‘toughen up’ on air pollution.

Travel Weekly, April 28th, 2014
The media's fixation with China's air quality.

Times of India, April 26th, 2014
Farmers burn crop residue, Greens worried in Central India.

Phys.Org, April 25th, 2014
Nitrogen pollution, climate and land use.

Reuters, April 25th, 2014
Kashmir sets up environment tribunals to curb pollution.

Science Daily, April 25th, 2014
Nitrogen pollution, climate and land use: Why what we eat matters.

Science Daily, April 25th, 2014
Climate change: Don't wait until you can feel it.

Science Daily, April 25th, 2014
Small-scale, urban allotments yield food, healthy soil.

Digital Journal, April 25th, 2014
Circulating Fluidized Bed (CFB) Boilers Market in 2018.

Health Canal, April 25th, 2014
Pollutants from Coal-Burning Stoves Strongly Associated with Miscarriages in Mongolia.

International Business Times, April 24th, 2014
China Revises 25-Year Environment Law as Pollution Chokes Nation.

New York Times, April 24th, 2014
China: Legislature Toughens Environmental Law.

Energy Central, April 24th, 2014
Power station's biomass switch closer to reality.

World Coal, April 23rd, 2014
Indonesia and the great coal glut.

Energy Central, April 23rd, 2014
Unreliable power worries investors.

Science Daily, April 23rd, 2014
Pollutants from coal-burning stoves strongly associated with miscarriages in Mongolia.

Wall Street Journal, April 23rd, 2014
China Lifts Ban on New Refining Projects.

Indian Express, April 22nd, 2014
Need to include NCR areas in study on air quality.

Power Engineering, April 22nd, 2014
China reinforces clean energy message.

Legal Brief Today, April 22nd, 2014
Clean coal technology plans for SA proceed space.

Power Engineering, April 22nd, 2014
Dominion: More than 1 million tons of waste coal recycled at Virginia power plant.

Phys.Org, April 21st, 2014
Study casts doubt on climate benefit of biofuels from corn residue.

Huffington Post, April 21st, 2014
Can China Win the War on Air Pollution?

Times of India, April 21st, 2014
Pollution from crematoria irks Kolkata residents.

Energy Central, April 21st, 2014
Tata Power expands green energy power generation capacity by 646.7 MW.

Simple Climate, April 19th, 2014
Dump fossil fuels for the health of our hearts.

Sydney Morning Herald, April 19th, 2014
Asthma, acid rain: life in one of India's most polluted cities.

Reuters, April 18th, 2014
U.S. court upholds cement plant emissions standards.

Liberty Voice, April 18th, 2014
Air Pollution Will Decrease With Cooler Climate.

Atlantic Cities, April 18th, 2014
2 Charts That Put the Chinese Pollution Crisis in Perspective.

Economic Times, April 18th, 2014
Power Outages may fall as coal stocks improve at plants.

World Bulletin, April 18th, 2014
Turkey privatizes two thermal power plants.

Science Daily, April 18th, 2014
Future heat waves pose risk for population of Greater London.

New York Times, April 17th, 2014
One-Fifth of China’s Farmland Is Polluted.

Wall Street Journal, April 17th, 2014
China Details Vast Extent of Soil Pollution.

EDF News, April 17th, 2014
My climate confession: I assumed we had limits on power plant pollution.

ECNS News, April 17th, 2014
Shanghai chokes on smog as air heavily polluted.

Times of India, April 17th, 2014
Fertilizer costly, fly ash can work magic.

MIT Technology Review, April 17th, 2014
Selling Teslas in China Won’t Do Much for the Environment.

Trans World News, April 17th, 2014
Countries in Asia, particularly China, show interest in developing carbon technologies.

Vancouver Sun, April 17th, 2014
Opinion: Shipping coal to China pollutes air in British Columbia.

NY Times, April 16th, 2014
Measuring Africa’s Air Pollution.

NPR, April 16th, 2014
Man Reaches For The Sun For A Solution To Pakistan's Gas Crisis.

Times of India, April 16th, 2014
Gas shortage cripples power plants in capital.

Digital Journal, April 16th, 2014
Thermal Power in Brazil, Market Outlook to 2025, 2014 Update - Capacity, Generation, Power Plants, Regulations and Company Profiles.

EcoGeek, April 16th, 2014
Ontario Completely Off Coal.

The Guardian, April 15th, 2014
China's air pollution leading to more erratic climate for US.

The City Fix, April 15th, 2014
The intersection of public health and transport in Indian cities.

Power Engineering, April 15th, 2014
Ontario shuts down final coal-fired power plant, officially coal-free.

Resources Career, April 15th, 2014
Hunt sees years of coal, says carbon will be captured.

Asahi Shimbum, April 15th, 2014
Sharp fall in Japanese children at schools in China due to PM2.5.

Phys.Org, April 15th, 2014
Asian air pollution affect Pacific Ocean storms.

Shanghai Daily, April 15th, 2014
Air quality index gets new hourly updates.

RE Economy, April 15th, 2014
India’s dirty coal problem – and why it’s bad news for Australia.

Global Legal Post, April 15th, 2014
Japan's New Energy Act sparks controversy.

Power Engineering, April 15th, 2014
Latin America must install 14 GW of new capacity a year.

Quartz, April 15th, 2014
How many hours of your life is air pollution stealing from you?

Times of India, April 15th, 2014
Asian air pollution affecting Northern Hemisphere's weather patterns.

Global Post, April 15th, 2014
Gov't to shut down schools when under fine dust alert.

China Daily, April 14th, 2014
Nitrogen oxide key to battling smog.

The Guardian, April 14th, 2014
The IPCC's message is clear: it's the end of business as usual for fossil fuel users.

The City Fix, April 14th, 2014
Urbanism Hall of Fame: Lee Kwan Yew shaped Singapore as the “Garden City”.

Inhabitat, April 14th, 2014
Glow-in-the-Dark 'Smart Highways' Replace Street Lights in the Netherlands.

Xinhua Net, April 14th, 2014
Beijing air "seriously polluted".

Bloomberg News, April 14th, 2014
Despite Hazardous Smog, Beijing Breaks Into Ranks of Top 10 Global Cities.

Business Green, April 14th, 2014
Treasury claim that fuel duty freeze benefits economy ignores climate and air pollution impacts.

BBC, April 14th, 2014
Asian air pollution strengthens Pacific storms.

The Guardian, April 14th, 2014
Will Panasonic's 'hazard pay' make a difference to air pollution in China?

Capital Press, April 14th, 2014
Agriculture may contribute to air pollution.

Bangalore Mirror, April 14th, 2014
Steer clear from dust.

BBC News, April 13th, 2014
Coal gasification: The clean energy of the future?

NPR, April 13th, 2014
Climate Change Adjustments Must Be Fast And Major, U.N. Panel Says.

Science Daily, April 13th, 2014
Greenhouse gas emissions from today will be felt for at least 1,000 years.

Space Daily, April 13th, 2014
China uses satellite, drones to fight pollution.

Moscow Times, April 13th, 2014
Every Dirty Breath You Take.

The Guardian, April 13th, 2014
Pollutionwatch: Danger in the air.

Hindustan Times, April 12th, 2014
Watchdog cracks whip on polluting service stations.

Global Times, April 12th, 2014
Beijing mulls smoking ban.

Scientific American, April 12th, 2014
Air Visibility Monitoring.

The Scotsman, April 12th, 2014
Leaders: Pollution levels prove cars are killing us.

The Guardian, April 11th, 2014
Cities bear the brunt of air pollution – they can also solve it.

Science Daily, April 11th, 2014
Odds that global warming is due to natural factors: Slim to none.

Science Daily, April 11th, 2014
NASA simulation portrays ozone intrusions from aloft.

The Guardian, April 11th, 2014
London's smog crisis was just an average day in many Chinese cities.

World Coal, April 11th, 2014
What future for UK coal?

Power Engineering, April 10th, 2014
AEP revises portfolio forecast, adds more coal than predicted.

Huffington Post, April 10th, 2014
Jar Of Fresh French Mountain Air Sells For £512 In Smog Smothered Beijing.

Xinhua Net, April 10th, 2014
Beijing pollutants too much for environment.

Reuters, April 10th, 2014
Cities need better warning systems for air pollution.

Quartz News, April 10th, 2014
Six years of Beijing air pollution summed up in one scary chart.

Echo News, April 10th, 2014
Councils told to more to protect people from air pollution as south east is named as worst area in the UK.

BBC, April 9th, 2014
Reducing car pollution easier than UN experts thought.

Power Engineering, April 9th, 2014
IEA praises Austria for ‘balanced’ energy policy.

ECNS News, April 9th, 2014
Beijing mulls E-license plates for 2015 congestion charge policy.

Science Daily, April 9th, 2014
Study pegs fuel economy costs of common practices.

NPR, April 8th, 2014
NASA Image Shows Volcanic Island Has Annexed Its Neighbor.

Power Engineering, April 8th, 2014
Indonesia plans $1.8bn coal-fired power plant.

China Daily, April 8th, 2014
China to close nearly 2000 small coal mines.

Bloomberg, April 8th, 2014
China Auto Sales Rise 9% as Curbs Spur Purchases.

Global Times, April 7th, 2014
What is the best way to combat air pollution?

Mail India, April 7th, 2014
Road ministry to scrap trucks and buses more than eight years old to combat air pollution.

Indian Express, April 6th, 2014
Hail the New Auto.

Power Engineering, April 4th, 2014
$675m coal-fired power plants for Sumatra.

Xinhua Net, April 3rd, 2014
China develops 3-day smog forecasts.

TIME, April 3rd, 2014
Smoggy Sand: How Deserts Spread Air Pollution.

The Blade, April 2nd, 2014
China syndrome.

China Daily, April 2nd, 2014
China's first market-priced railway approved.

China Daily, April 2nd, 2014
Beijing gets tough on big polluters.

Wall Street Journal, March 31st, 2014
Bags of Mountain Air Offered in Smog-Addled Chinese City.

World Bank, March 28th, 2014
World Bank Approves $600 Million to Support Railway, Public Transport, and Gas Utilization in China.

China Dialogue, March 27th, 2014
Real-time air quality assessments are critical for helping limit public exposure to high levels of air pollution.

China Dialogue, March 11th, 2014
China's parliamentary delegates attack air quality fraud.

Nearly 50% of Americans Live in Areas with Unhealthy Levels of Air Pollution

Nearly 148 million people live in areas where smog and soot particles make it unhealthy to breathe the air, according to the ALA's annual study on US air quality. The report, which is based on data collected between 2010 and 2012, found smog, or ozone, had worsened in 22 of the 25 biggest US metropolitan areas, including Los Angeles, Houston, Washington-Baltimore, New York City and Chicago – and said there was a high risk of more high-ozone days because of climate change.

Link to the article @ the Guardian

State of the Air in USA 2014 

"Weather played a factor," the report said. "The warmer summers in 2010 and 2012 contributed to higher ozone readings and more frequent ozone days. Sunlight and heat create conditions that increase the risk of high ozone levels." Smog, or ozone, which is the most widespread air pollutant, forms more readily in hotter temperatures, and is expected to increase under climate change. "It's going to make it harder to clean up air pollution," said Janice Nolen of the ALA. "Days that wouldn't ordinarily have high ozone levels are going to have them." She added: "It's going to be much harder to keep ozone pollution down to the levels that we should be breathing."

There is growing concern globally – including in the US – about the health risks of air pollution. The report's release comes a day after the supreme court endorsed the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to deal with smog and soot that travel across state lines. The ALA had joined that case on behalf of the EPA. The group has also been pushing hard to tighten air pollution standards, and has supported the EPA's moves to force power plants to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

US Air NOW Program

Scientific research shows that smog and soot are far more harmful at lower levels than previously thought. A growing body of research over the last decade has connected air pollution to increased deaths from heart disease and respiratory illnesses. The World Health Organisation said last autumn that particulate pollution causes lung cancer.

Air pollution in New Delhi rose to record levels in winter, triggering a debate about whether the Indian capital had now caught up with Beijing. Britain was on smog alert earlier this month after recording very high levels of air pollution.

Comparing Air Pollution in Delhi and Beijing

Meanwhile, California's pollution control officers warned this month that extreme heat and wildfires could set back decades of improvements in air quality, boosting smog formation and spewing dangerous smoke into the air. Eighteen of the 25 US cities with the worst particulate pollution saw a drop in year-round particle pollutants because of cuts in emissions for coal-fired power plants and other measures. Thirteen of them, including Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Atlanta, registered their lowest ever levels. But the report said those cities still failed to meet national standards for year-round particle pollution.

Metro's in California are the Most Polluted

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Only 55% of the Fly-Ash is Utilized for Bricks and Cement in India

Ideally, the entire fly ash should be used, but CEA considers 75%-100% utilization as satisfactory. However, Mahagenco's utilization figure is 63%. The national average is 55.6%. The biggest power producer NTPC has a very poor record of 43% utilization. Read more @ Times of India

Mahagenco has been frequently hauled up by environmentalists for not taking measures to control air pollution. The company has always defended its conduct by saying that poor quality coal makes it difficult to do that. Now, a Central Electricity Authority (CEA) audit has revealed that even fly ash utilization by Mahagenco is far below the minimum expected level.

While many generation companies fare even worse, there are some utilities, mostly private, that use the entire fly ash. CEA has compiled data for 66 companies for the first half of 2013-14. Sixteen power utilities have used the entire fly ash generated by them. Twenty-one have used up 75% to 100% while the remaining 29 are below 75% usage. Mahagenco falls in the third category. During this period, Tamil Nadu has achieved fly ash utilization level of more than 98% while Delhi, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Punjab, Rajasthan and West Bengal achieved fly ash utilization level of more than 70%.

The average fly ash utilization of Mahagenco reached 63% in the first quarter of 2013-14 because Koradi and Parli used the fly ash generated in earlier period. The figure for Koradi was 168% and Parli 127%. Other than these two plants, Nashik had the best figures with 70% followed by Khaparkheda at 67%. The poor performers are Chandrapur (43.5%), Bhusawal (44%) and Paras (29%). The performance of some private power plants in Maharashtra, commissioned four to five years ago, is quite satisfactory. Wardha Power's Warora plant used all the fly ash it generated, JSW Jaigad (96%), Trombay (94%), GMR Warora (98.5%) and Dahanu (91%). The plants that had started a few months ago had poor record of ash utilization during first half of 2013-14. These include Mihan, Mouda, Butibori and Tiroda.

Mahagenco's poor pollution control mechanism has led to discharge of fly ash slurry from Koradi and Khaparkheda plants into Kanhan and Kolar rivers, creating a health hazard for citizens of Nagpur. TOI had highlighted this in a series of articles in January 2013, forcing Mahagenco to take some remedial measures.

Climate Change Closed the Mt. Everest's 2014 Season

The deadly avalanche on Everest earlier this month wasn't technically an avalanche. It was an "ice release"—a collapse of a glacial mass known as a serac. Rather than getting swept up by a rush of powdery snow across a slope, the victims fell under the blunt force of house-sized ice blocks tumbling through the Khumbu Icefall, an unavoidable obstacle on the most popular route up Everest. The worst accident in the mountain's history has effectively ended the 2014 climbing season. And some see global warming as the key culprit.

"I am at Everest Basecamp right now and things are dire because of climate change," John All, a climber, scientist, and professor of geography at Western Kentucky University, tells me by email. "The ice is melting at unprecedented rates and [that] greatly increases the risk to climbers." "You could say [that] climate change closed Mt. Everest this year," he adds.

Climbers had warily eyed the serac that collapsed on April 18 for years. In fact, a major expedition outfitter canceled its climbing season in 2012 because of it—a decision vividly reconstructed by Jon Krakauer in The New Yorker last week

Ice frequently falls from this hanging glacier on the West Shoulder, and traversing the Icefall has always been treacherous. "Ice doctors" who install ladders and ropes in the area have long adjusted and readjusted the infrastructure in response to the collapses, big and small, that occur there on a daily basis. But experts believe these dangers are multiplying as average temperatures rise. In Krakauer's words, "the pronounced warming of the Himalayan climate in recent years has made the Icefall more unstable than ever, and there is still no way to predict when a serac is going to topple over." .

Read more @ The Atlantic Cities

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Agricultural Waste Burning in Central India

Farmers are disposing of the remains of the crop destroyed in the recent hailstorm by burning. This is adding to air pollution as huge quantities of particulate matter, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, ash and sulphur dioxide are being released in the process. Read more @ Times of India

To look into the matter, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered that a pilot committee be constituted by MP pollution control board (MPPCB) within the next three days to assess the impact of burning of crop residue on the atmosphere and the local ecosystem. On Friday, while hearing a petition on hailstorms, central zone bench of the NGT comprising Justice Dalip Singh and expert member PS Rao expressed grave concern over the environmental impact of burning of crop residue.

More images from Earth Observatory

NGT bench also ordered that agriculture and animal husbandry departments, MP Biodiversity board, MPPCB and Jawaharlal Nehru Agricultural University Jabalpur constitute a joint committee, including a scientific officer from Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), which will look after the proposal of disposal of straws and other residual material. The committee will also discuss issues such as dearth of fodder for livestock because of damage incurred to the crop.

Agriculture Insurance Company (AIC) of India Ltd has been directed to apprise the NGT of the role an insurance company plays, vis-a-vis crop insurance in case of natural calamities like the recent hailstorm so that their correlation can be ascertained. Farmers should also be educated about various alternative ways of getting rid of crop remains other than burning.

Applicant Subhash C Pandey said that standing crop is being adversely affected by climate change, natural calamities and also burning of crop residue. "Lakhs of acres of farmland is being burnt as famers don't know any other technique to get rid of crop residue. Alternatives methods are costlier and require increased labour inputs. Therefore, farmers choose the cheaper option of burning crop residue but this spells doom for the environment," he said. In a similar petition to the principal bench of NGT, a report was submitted on March 21 and that also has to be placed before the bench before the next date of hearing on May 19.

Air pollution estimate

Particulate matter - 45,000 tonnes
Carbon monoxide - 900,000 tonnes
Carbon dioxide - 21.9 million tonnes
Ash - 2.985 million tonnes
Sulphur dioxide - 30,000 tonnes

Rabi crop - approx 15 million tonnes

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Pollutants from Coal Burning Stoves Strongly Associated with Miscarriages in Mongolia

Burning coal for domestic heating may contribute to early fetal death according to a new study that took place in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia -- the coldest capital city in the world. Researchers report "alarmingly strong statistical correlations" between seasonal ambient air pollutants and pregnancy loss. 

Burning coal for domestic heating may contribute to early fetal death according to a new study by experts from The Saban Research Institute of Children's Hospital Los Angeles and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia -- the coldest capital city in the world. In a paper published today in the journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, researchers report "alarmingly strong statistical correlations" between seasonal ambient air pollutants and pregnancy loss in Ulaanbaatar (UB), Mongolia.

UB has one of the highest levels of air pollution of all world capitals, with sulfide dioxide and particulate matter levels during winter months, which are up to 23 times World Health Organization standards. Air pollution in winter is largely caused by coal burning in Ger stoves (Ger refers to the traditional round, felt tent used as a portable residence by nomadic Mongolian people, but such stoves are also used in wooden houses within the Ger district.)

Air Pollution in Ulaanbaatar

The scientists, led by David Warburton, OBE, DSc, MD, MMM, FRCP, FRCS, FRCPCH, professor of Pediatrics and Surgery at The Saban Research Institute of Children's Hospital Los Angeles and Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, examined the association between spontaneous abortion (miscarriages) and seasonal variation of air pollutants. The measurements were gathered near the National Center for Maternal and Child Health (NCMCH) -- which provides the majority of obstetric and gynecological services in UB -- and compared to the medical records of 1,219 women in the region who had been admitted to the hospital between 2009 and 2011 due to fetal death prior to 20 weeks gestational age. "We found that the incidence of miscarriage revealed a striking seasonal pattern of variation," said Warburton.

While the overall rate of miscarriages (occurring in approximately 15 to 20 percent of pregnancies) reported in UB is similar to that of Western countries, including the United States, the study showed that spontaneous abortion incidence per calendar month increased from 23 per 1,000 live births in May to 73 per 1,000 live births in December 2011.

Read more @ Science Daily

Printing 3-D Buildings?

In Shanghai, a Chinese company 3D-printed 10 small buildings in about a day. Walls are made of layers of a concrete aggregate that includes recycled construction waste. Each house, assembled from the printed walls, measures 200 square meters and costs about $4,800. Granted, these buildings are not the most sexy. You could even argue they're not real 3D-printed buildings since assembly is required. (Rest assured a team from Amsterdam is currently at work on a fully 3D printed canal house). But according to The Architect’s Newspaper, the company hopes the technology will provide an “affordable and dignified" housing option for the impoverished. Read more @ Atlantic Cities

Friday, April 25, 2014

Ontario (Canada) is Coal-Free

Ontario has become the first jurisdiction in North America to eliminate electricity produced from coal-fired power plants. The last coal-fired site in Ontario, the Thunder Bay Generating Station, will be converted to a biomass facility. Read the article @ Power Engineering

In 2013, Ontario introduced the Ending Coal for Cleaner Air Act to ensure coal-fired power production would not happen in the province, according to the Ontario Ministry of Energy. To keep up with the power demand, Ontario has used a mix of emission-free electricity sources such as wind, solar, nuclear and hydropower, along with lower-emission electricity sources like natural gas and biomass. The ministry said that the commitment to close all of its coal plants before the end of 2014 has been met.

Role of Transport in Making Cities Green

Webinar from TERI

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Coughing Up Coal - Pollution from the Coal Fired Power Plants in India

India is rivaling China -- in its plans to consume coal. India is aggressively expanding construction of coal fired power plants to meet growing energy needs. Some 455 new plants now are in the pipeline. With air pollution already a leading health concern, medical experts say this expansion can have dire health consequences. Emissions from coal power plants were linked to 80,000-150,000 premature deaths in India between 2011 and 2012 alone and to a wide range of diseases from cancers, to respiratory and cardiovascular disorders.

Singrauli -- an industrial hub in north central India -- embodies the tragic human toll that a largely unregulated coal industry can extract. Sarah Stirk of the Ecologist Film Unit files this original investigative report for Earth Focus. Read her accompanying blog post, "Coughing up Coal: Reporting from the Frontline of India's Health Crisis"

Monday, April 21, 2014

Comparing Air Quality Classifications in China and USA

Here are two simple charts, neither of them brand-new but both easily comprehensible, that help dramatize how different the situation is there. The first, by Steven Andrews for China Dialogue via ChinaFile, compares official Chinese classifications of "good" air conditions with those in Europe or North America. Read the full article @ Atlantic Cities

Here is the point of this graphic: The green and yellow zones in the left-hand column, showing official Chinese government classifications, are for "good" or "OK" air—while those same readings would be in the danger zone by U.S. or European standards. When you're living in China, it's impossible not to adjust your standards either to ignore how dire the circumstances are, so you can get on with life, or to think that any day when you can see across the street is "pretty good."

Here's the other chart, comparing the 10 most-polluted Chinese cities with the 10 in America. It is from The Washington Post a few weeks ago:

Read the full article @ Atlantic Cities

Nobody Lives Here

There are plenty of visualizations based on population data, but nothing quite like what designer Nik Freeman has created: a map of where no one lives. Using data from the 2010 U.S. census, Freeman shades green the nearly 5 million census blocks with zero population. The resulting map highlights the 47 percent of the U.S. that remains unoccupied. Read more @ Atlantic Cities

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Measuring Air Pollution in African Cities

When Jenny Linden, an air quality scientist, tried to measure the pollution in Burkina Faso’s capital city, one of her instruments clogged up. It was designed for road dust in Arizona, but the dust in Ouagadougou far exceeded the machine’s limit, and it had to be sent to the United States for repair.
The instrument “could not take the level of pollutants they had there,” recalled Dr. Linden, who took measurements in Ouagadougou between 2003 and 2007 and is now a research associate in urban climatology at the University of Mainz, in Germany. So intense was the dust, she added, that “you don’t have a cold but you have an irritated nose the whole time.”

Read the full article @ NY Times

Gridded Anthropogenic OC Emissions in 2030 in Africa
Air pollution in Asia and Europe has grabbed headlines. But as Dr. Linden’s experience suggests, the problem is pervasive across Africa as well. Africa is urbanizing quickly, and pollution from sources like vehicle exhaust, wood burning and dusty dirt roads has reached worrisome levels in many cities. Equally or more troubling is air pollution inside homes, caused by cooking with wood or other sooty fuels. But few nations outside South Africa have imposed regulations to address the problem, experts say.

Anthropogenic CO2 Emissions in Africa
“We do know that in Africa, there’s a very major problem with indoor air pollution,” said Dr. Carlos Dora, an official with the World Health Organization’s Department for Public Health and Environment. Data for outdoor air pollution in cities, he added, is less available and may not capture the scope of the problem.

A factory in Kenya Producing Improved Cookstoves for Africa
Dirty air can cause lung damage as well as heart disease, strokes and cancer. Last month the W.H.O. estimated that one in eight deaths worldwide resulted from air pollution. The organization found that air pollution in African homes contributed to nearly 600,000 deaths in 2012. Africa had the third highest level of deaths per capita from indoor air pollution of any region of the world, though it was still well behind areas of the western Pacific region (including China) and Southeast Asia.

Explosive Growth in Africa's Combustion Emissions
The W.H.O. figures for deaths per capita from outdoor air pollution in Africa are well below the world average, but the lack of data is a barrier. Pollution monitoring is minimal on a continent that is mostly focused on other problems. Instruments are expensive, and academics say they often struggle to get grants to study the problem. The W.H.O. assesses outdoor pollution in Africa by drawing from satellite data, inventories of pollution sources, air-current modeling and occasional ground monitors, Dr. Dora said. Continentwide data is stronger than that for individual countries, he added.
In Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, normal levels of fine dust (meaning particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, about 1/30 of the width of a human hair and a significant health threat) are usually five times as high as those in Gothenburg, Sweden, according to Johan Boman, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Gothenburg. The Nairobi pollution doubles near the central business district, he said, reflecting high pollution from vehicle exhaust.

“It’s certainly not as bad as what we see from China,” he said. “On the other hand, in China it’s very much seasonal,” whereas Nairobi, with its relatively stable climate, has less variation. A survey several years ago by the W.H.O. showed Gaborone, Botswana, as having the eighth-highest level of particulate pollution (particles of up to 10 micrometers in diameter) among a list of world cities. But the W.H.O. stresses that it is an incomplete list, since many cities did not provide data — including some of the most polluted.

Measuring and Characterizing Pollution in Accra
The outdoor pollution problem is growing, as more Africans move to cities. Ms. Linden, who did research in Burkina Faso until 2007, said that “the situation is likely worse now” because Ouagadougou’s population has swelled by more than 50 percent since then. Major outdoor sources of pollution include old vehicles; the burning of wood and trash; industrial activities; and even dust from dirt roads, a serious issue in Ouagadougou. In West Africa, a wind called the harmattan adds to the problem in the winter, coating the region in Saharan desert dust.

One recent study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, estimated that Africa could generate 20 percent to 30 percent of the world’s combustion-driven sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides by 2030, up from about 5 percent each in 2005. Other pollutants are growing too: Organic carbon from Africa could rise to over 50 percent of the world’s combustion output, from 20 percent, the study said. The authors did their calculations using estimates about fuel consumption, growth and other emissions factors, and warned of “a considerable increase in emissions from Africa” in the absence of regulations.

One of few countries to put regulations in place is South Africa, where ozone and tiny particles are particular worries. Air quality standards went into effect in 2009. Restrictions on particles will tighten in 2015 and 2016, according to Rebecca Garland, a senior researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Pretoria.

Air Pollution in Ouagadougou
Elsewhere, action is lacking as African nations grapple with other problems. Dr. Dora of the W.H.O. said that in countries like China, the pressure to stem pollution comes from businesses, and “from what I know, there’s still not that pressure from businesses in Africa,” he said. However, some leaders are aware of the issue and want to address it, he added.

Air Pollution in Kampala
One initiative that has gotten considerable attention is cleaner cookstoves. The current fuels, including wood, charcoal, animal dung and crop residues, create smoke and soot. The W.H.O. is releasing information soon about how various technologies can improve indoor air pollution. The concept of cleaner cookstoves has been getting high-profile attention; however, some experts caution that some of the new cookstoves may be focused less on reducing air emissions than on other benefits like increased energy efficiency and preventing forest degradation.

From Gridlock to Brain Damage in Lagos
“I don’t think anybody’s really demonstrated that they’re clean enough” to play a serious role in improving public health, said Darby Jack, an assistant professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Zero-Waste to Landfills in Pune by 2015

Pune aims to become a zero-landfill city by 2015. With a range of solid waste management options like localised biogas plants and composting facilities, and policies that encourage door-to-door waste collection and segregation, the target does not seem too ambitious. However, the city municipal corporation needs to ensure it does not fall into the trap of easy answers as it seeks to enhance its waste processing capacity. Read the full article @ Down to Earth

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

The 600-square metre compound that shares its boundary with the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) ward office in Aundh, an affluent suburb, gives no sign of what happens inside. Strollers cheerfully walk past it. Behind its green steel gates is the city’s cleanest weapon to fight garbage. The five-tonne per day (TPD) biogas plant silently operates all day decomposing organic waste—vegetables, fruit rejects and stale food—and converting them into methane. The gas is injected into a generator to produce electricity. The leftover is excellent organic manure. Yet, passers-by have nothing to complain. There is no stench around; no flies or eagles hovering above food. Life goes on, the way it would with any other commercial compound there.

Composting Wet Waste in the House

The plant is Pune’s experiment to ensure that no waste goes to the city’s landfills. “The aim is to make the 244-sq km municipal area zero-landfill by 2015,” says Sanjay Gawade, additional commissioner, municipal solid waste, PMC. Pune generates about 400 grams of solid waste per person per day. The 2011 Census puts the city’s population at about 3.5 million. Another 0.5 million come into the city every day. This translates into 1,400 to 1,600 tonnes of municipal solid waste (MSW) every day, say PMC officials. Of this, 65 per per cent per cent comes from residences, hotels and restaurants (see ‘Waste contributors’). Wet waste accounts for about 70 per cent.

NO or Limited Gas for the Power Plants in Delhi

The Delhi government's 1500MW gas-based plant in Bawana has been in the news for the past few years because of the gas crisis. The plant was pitched as a solution to the capital's dependence on other states for meeting its power demand. But, shortage of gas to operate the plant has made it more of a liability. Discoms have not yet sourced power from the plant this season. But with the temperature rising, they may be left with no choice. The peak demand this year is expected to be about 6200MW. Read the full article @ Times of India.

Power Plants and Brick Kilns in Delhi and Its Satellite Cities
Currently, discoms are able to source power from other places at a cheaper cost. "The plant functions irregularly because of gas shortage. This raises the cost of power generation. Regular gas supply would bring down the costs substantially. However, the government doesn't run the plant to full capacity and that deters us from sourcing power from it,'' said a discom official.

Real time air quality in Delhi

It is not just the Bawana plant which is suffering because of the gas crisis, Tata Power's 108MW plant in Rithala has become almost redundant because of no gas availability. "We try to source the cheapest power available. If the power produced from Bawana costs about Rs 5-6 per unit, even DERC will ask why we are sourcing power from there when economically viable options are available. Power from Bawana will not become affordable till they have a regular supply of gas,'' said an official. At present, the Bawana plant is in shutdown mode because of which discoms have not sought power from it yet.

The Bawana power project, built at a cost of Rs 4,500 crore, could produce at least 750MW from the first cycle if it had enough gas. But it has barely managed to produce 250 MW since the first cycle was commissioned. Similarly, the proposed power plant at Bamnauli is also stuck as the government has been unable to arrange any gas for the plant, an official said.

An emissions inventory for Delhi @ 1kmx1km resolution

Out of the six power stations that supply electricity only to Delhi, four are dependent on gas. Coal-based Indraprastha power station had shut in 2010 and another thermal station-Rajghat powerhouse-with an installed capacity of 135MW is also due to close operations soon. There are also plans to convert three out of five units at NTPC's coal-based Badarpur power station to gas.

"The government is phasing out coal-based power stations for Delhi due to environment concerns. But with gas shortage looming large, production by gas stations is severely limited. There is hardly any gas available in the country and the cost of producing power from imported gas will make it too expensive," said a senior official.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

80% of Smog in Most of the Chinese Cities is Secondary in Nature - NOx Emissions Key

Nitrogen oxide, more than other major pollutants such as sulfur dioxide or ammonia nitrogent, should be considered as the major culprit for smog, said Wang Yuqing, deputy head of Committee of Population, Resources and Environment of China. Read the full article @ China Daily
"As much as 80 percent of smog that has been plaguing most of the cities are secondary pollutants, including sulfate and nitrate - fine articles that are really toxic and a threat to human health," he said during a keynote speech at an international consultative conference on NOx emission management and control, which was held on March 29 in Beijing.

The meeting was co-sponsored by International Energy Conservation Environmental Protections Association, or IEEPA, a non-governmental organization dedicated to help push forward China's green transformation.

Smoggy Memories in China

According to Wang, these pollutants are actually transformed from sulfur dioxide and ammonia nitrogen after undergoing a series of chemical reactions, a process remarkably catalyzed by nitrogen oxide, or NOx. NOx is one of the key airborne pollutants and main cause of acid rain that comes mainly from coal consumption and emissions of motor vehicles, he added.

Air pollution has increasingly become a major concern among Chinese people, as much of the country was time and again shrouded by the blanket of smog this year and last year, with Beijing and Hebei province bearing the brunt. Statistics show that nitrogen oxide emissions had been growing at an annual rate of 5 to 8 percent in the past few years, but then dropped slightly as of 2012 when NOx emissions stood at about 23.4 million tons, still 30 percent more than five years earlier.

70% of Nomadic Mongolians Have Access to Electricity from Newly Installed Solar Panels

With 250 days of sunshine a year, Mongolia’s potential for solar energy is vast but mostly underutilized. That’s beginning to change though – a new government sponsored initiative aims to equip traditional dome-like homes called gers (tents made of felt and yak’s wool) with portable solar home systems (SHS) to make life a little easier in the northern highlands. So far, almost 70 percent of nomadic people now have access to electricity thanks to newly installed solar panels.

Read the article @ Inhabitant

2014 Global Cities Index - Beijing @ No.8 and Delhi @ No.57

Even as its pollution soars to hazardous levels, Beijing has jumped into the top 10 global cities, says a ranking by A.T. Kearney. At No. 8, China’s capital is the only Chinese city in the top 10, and moves up from 12th place last year, according to the 2014 Global Cities Index, released on April 14 (Shanghai came in at No. 18, and Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Chongqing at 66, 73, and 84, respectively).

Read the article on Bloomberg Business Week.

For the second year in a row, New York and London, in first and second place, topped the list that looks at 84 municipalities around the world and ranks them by measures including business activity, human capital, information exchange, cultural offerings, and political engagement. Others in the top 10 include Paris at No. 3, followed by Tokyo, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Chicago, Beijing, Singapore, and Washington.

2014 Global Cities - Present and Future

Beijing’s ability to attract global companies, plus the rise of Chinese multinationals, helped propel it up the ranks. Growing numbers of international schools, museums, and broadband subscribers also boosted Beijing’s standing. And the Chinese capital’s political heft, measured in part by the number of embassies, international organizations, and think tanks, also supported Beijing’s high position.

“What we’ve seen over time is that strong business activity and heavyweight political influence are a combination of attributes which really propel cities, and that Beijing is a perfect example of this,” Andreas Mendoza Pena, a principal at A.T. Kearney in Chicago, told Bloomberg News. “We see Beijing continuing its upward trend.”

There are challenges to Beijing’s standing. Not surprisingly, China’s capital saw its relative performance in information exchange slip compared with previous years; the ranking looks at freedom of expression, an area that hasn’t fared well as China’s leaders crack down on Internet expression.

Story: Defending Air Quality in Delhi

Smoggy skies are probably the biggest challenge to Beijing’s ranking, with the capital experiencing 189 days of polluted air last year, according to the local environmental bureau. The concentration of PM2.5—the fine particles most damaging to human health—reached 274 at noon on April 14, the day the ranking was released, according to a reading by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing; that’s about 11 times the level considered safe by the World Health Organization.
Close to half of international companies say that they face difficulty attracting and retaining senior executives in China because of air pollution, according to a 2014 survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in China; that’s up from less than a fifth of companies facing similar difficulties the year before. “The challenge for Beijing is if this trend with pollution continues, it might impact its ability to attract and also retain the best talent,” said Mendoza Pena to Bloomberg News.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Road Ministry of India Proposes to Scrap all Trucks and Buses More Than 8 Years Old

This is one drive that is definitely going to make the Capital's air cleaner and traffic flow smoother. The road ministry is planning to create 'end of life' directives with a cap of eight years for commercial vehicles, thereby pulling nearly 90 per cent of fume-spewing diesel trucks off Delhi's roads.

Link to the article on Mail India Today.

This will make it mandatory for owners to dispose of commercial vehicles after eight years. The cap will come into effect across the country, according to senior road ministry officials, and will help address issues like pollution, congestion and lack of parking space. The Delhi Police and various environmental experts have stated that the move will be a step in salvaging the Capital's fast-deteriorating air quality.

A recent report said that Delhi's alarming air pollution levels threaten to take the city back to the pre-CNG days. Much of that is being blamed on the fleet of old commercial vehicles that run on adulterated diesel.

Pollution Due to Trucks - Gross Polluters in Bangkok

In Delhi, the old commercial vehicles wreak maximum havoc. There are more than 3.3 lakh commercial vehicles plying on the city's roads, and if the road ministry implements the directive, nearly 90 per cent of the trucks will be pulled off the road. The number of buses registered with authorities in Delhi as of February 28 is almost 20,000. The old commercial vehicles, according to ministry sources, are more prone to accidents and hamper the safety of other vehicles. In addition, such vehicles are responsible for bottlenecks and traffic jams as their breakdown rate is high. According to a recent survey conducted in the city, nearly 80 per cent of the traffic jams in Delhi occur because of such vehicles, including those that have come from other states.

Pollution Due to Trucks - Gross Polluters in Delhi

"This proposal, if passed, can cleanse not only Delhi's air, but the roads as well," said a senior Traffic police official. According to the Centre for Science and Environment, the government also needs to issue strict instructions to automobile manufactures to provide better technology.

Pollution Due to Trucks - Kolkata & Dhaka

"If the government is planning to phase out old vehicles, they should also ensure that automobile manufacturers provide advanced emission standards for new vehicles. Euro-3 and Bharat stage-4 are old emission standards and the government has to make sure that old vehicles are replaced by Euro-5 and Euro-6 standards, otherwise it will be futile," CSE executive director Anumita Roychowdhury told Mail Today. Explaining the current situation in Delhi, Roychowdhury said whatever gains were made with the introduction of CNG in 2000 have been lost.

Health impacts of air pollution in Delhi

In addition to that, the disposal of vehicles is also a challenge, wherein manufacturers need to enhance their technology. "The new Euro-4 technology, which is the latest technology used in cars, is still 10 years behind what is being used in the US and Europe. In India, there are more than 50 lakh commercial vehicles and 12 lakh public transport vehicles," she added.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Aerial Views of Air Pollution in London - Return of the London Smog in April, 2014

Cough, choke, splutter. Is this the London of Dickens? Is it present day Beijing? No, this is what happens when powerful Saharan winds combine with good old Northern European pollution to create the perfect storm of harmful particulates. Read more @ Green Fudge

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Microscopic Beauty of Air Pollution

There aren't many good things to say about air pollution, given the way it tends to kill tons of people. But if one were forced to find a silver lining in smog, it's that it can look strangely alluring under high-powered microscopes, like evil, malformed snowflakes. Posted from the Atlantic Cities.

Volcanic Ash and Pollen

Sea Salt and Soot

Mountain Air Supplementing Polluted Air in Beijing

China's pollution is legendary and this year, levels have been worse than ever. Last year, an entrepreneur was manufacturing cans of air to help people breathe. This year, it's bagged mountain air. Link to the article from Discovery.


High Levels of Air Pollution Causes Problems Across the East of England

Smog shrouds London landmarks after 'perfect storm' increases pollution. Famous London landmarks hide behind the smog as high levels of air pollution causes problems across the east of England.

Link to the article from the Telegraph.

Storm in Sahara desert sends dust to UK.

London is feeling the effects of a combination of a Saharan dust storm and high pollution levels.

10 Things you need to know about air pollution in UK.

The city's landmarks were barely visible admid the dense atmosphere as health experts warn "adults and children with lung problems, and adults with heart problems, should reduce strenuous physical exertion, particularly outdoors, and particularly if they experience symptoms."

London Air

Dr Helen Dacre, a meteorologist at the University of Reading, said: "Weather conditions have conspired to create a 'perfect storm' for air pollution."

The elevated pollution levels have been caused by a combination of local pollution, pollution from the industrialized urban parts of Europe, and a large wind storm in North Africa which has blown dust across the British Isles.