Monday, July 28, 2014

MIT Study: Smog Pollution Must Be Addressed Along with Climate Change

We came across a very important study this morning by MIT researchers:

Climate change and air pollution will combine to curb food supplies

Here is a quick excerpt of the release MIT put out yesterday:

Many studies have shown the potential for global climate change to cut food supplies. But these studies have, for the most part, ignored the interactions between increasing temperature and air pollution — specifically ozone pollution, which is known to damage crops.
A new study involving researchers at MIT shows that these interactions can be quite significant, suggesting that policymakers need to take both warming and air pollution into account in addressing food security.  [emphasis added]

As we are reminded by this week's hearing on carbon pollution, the US EPA is very mindful of the global warming issue. 

But when is it going to get serious and address the need to set science-based new smog standards?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Report: Diesel Pollution Controls Really Work! Congress and White House, Please Take Note!

A new report confirms something that may seem obvious to some -- using pollution control devices on big diesel engines really cuts emissions -- and reduces public exposure to a very dangerous pollutant.

The report, by the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, , tracked the results of putting diesel pollution control devices on buses in metropolitan Boston early in the last decade.  The good news?  Emissions of dangerous black carbon soot particles dropped significantly as the pollution controls were put into place.  This was fantastic news, especially for those living near a bus depot in Roxbury.

What's the bad news?  Well, it's not in this report, but the bad news is that the Obama administration keeps trying to slash funding for similar cleanup programs elsewhere. (In government jargon, it seeks to zero out funding for the Diesel Emission Reduction Program.)  Each year in the past few, Congress has scrapped over restoring a relative pittance to the cleanup program, which relies on government spending.  (Although new diesel engines are very clean, existing ones are not -- and are exempt from mandatory federal cleanup requirements.)

Black carbon, by the way, is also a potent "climate forcing" pollutant, so reductions in it help reduce the climate change problem, at least in the short term.

We can only hope that Congress takes note -- and that the White House stops its ill-conceived efforts to terminate diesel cleanup spending.  There are still far too many dirty diesels still on the road!




Tuesday, July 08, 2014

False Advertising? Why the Air Quality Index is Wrong – and Needs to be Updated

Throughout the summer, we often hear about the “Air Quality Index” or AQI.
The index, originated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is supposed to represent the government’s Official Seal of Approval – or Disapproval – on the quality of the air we breathe.  According to the EPA,    “The AQI is an index for reporting daily air quality. It tells you how clean or polluted your air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you.”

But does it really?
In fact, the current AQI for smog, or ozone, doesn’t reflect the best and most recent science.  As a result, it dramatically understates the risk to the breathing public.  "Code Yellow" is nowhere near as safe as you might think.

At Clean Air Watch, we believe the public has the right to know if the air we breathe is safe.  Until the government updates the AQI based on the best science, that’s not the case.  Right now, some might call it false advertising.