The Clean Air Act
A Modern Era of Air Quality Regulations Begins
Los Angeles is Out-in-Front in California and California is Out-in-Front in the US
The US Air Quality Regulations to Limit Air Pollution Become the Model for the World
The Clean Air Act (CAA) has been limiting harmful air pollutants from cars and trucks, power plants, and industrial smokestacks, since the early 1970s, helping usher in a new era of clean air and improved public health. Today, the annual benefits from cleaner air include up to 370,000 avoided premature deaths, 189,000 fewer hospital admissions for cardiac and respiratory illnesses, and net economic benefits of up to $3.8 trillion for the U.S. economy. Moreover, the annual benefits of the CAA are up to 32 times greater than the cost of these regulations.
(GreenPolicy360 Siterunner / May 05, 2020: A tip of our hat to Congressman George E. Brown, from East Los Angeles and a long time friend from back in the days, as the initial US foundation of environmental laws came to be... George's strong interest and belief that the 'dirtiest air in the world', that of Los Angeles with its post-war boom, with freeways, traffic, the 'LA basin' trapping the polluted air, had to be cleaned up if children were to grow up healthy. George often talked to me about this, and even would show me X-rays of lungs that doctors would show him demonstrating the damage smog was doing to Southern California's children. Representative Brown went on to be one of the main movers and shakers in writing and shepherding legislation through that became models for the world of what could be accomplished in improved air quality. Whether auto emission standards, mileage standards, engineering improvements, testing and monitoring air quality including the first generation of US earth science/atmospheric science missions and research from space, George was a powerful force in the US Congress and in California legislation. George Brown, from the 1960s to his sudden passing in 1999, envisioned and engineered environmental protection progress. George was a doer, not a political showboat. In his rumpled suit, and his pipe, rarely lit but usually used for gesturing almost as a theatrical prop, George was a character with deep character. I will always remember my friend.)
Measuring & Monitoring from Space
Coronavirus impact on air quality in China, February 2020
Nitrogen Dioxide /NO2
Tracking Air Quality of 195 Cities
Using new, high-resolution global satellite maps of air quality indicators, NASA scientists tracked air pollution trends over the last decade in various regions and 195 cities around the globe. The findings were presented at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco and published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.
"With the new high-resolution data, scientists are now able to zoom down to study pollution changes within cities, including from some individual sources, like large power plants".
Previous work using satellites at lower resolution missed variations over short distances. This new space-based view offers consistent information on pollution for cities or countries that may have limited ground-based air monitoring stations. The resulting trend maps tell a unique story for each region.
The United States and Europe are among the largest emitters of nitrogen dioxide. Both regions also showed the most dramatic reductions between 2005 and 2014. Nitrogen dioxide has decreased from 20 to 50 percent in the United States, and by as much as 50 percent in Western Europe. Researchers concluded that the reductions are largely due to the effects of environmental regulations that require technological improvements to reduce pollution emissions from cars and power plants.
China, the world's growing manufacturing hub, saw an increase of 20 to 50 percent in nitrogen dioxide, much of it occurring over the North China Plain. Three major Chinese metropolitan areas -- Beijing, Shanghai, and the Pearl River Delta -- saw nitrogen dioxide reductions of as much as 40 percent.
NASA | Air Quality Observations from Space
NASA | Video Shows Asian Air Pollution Moving Across the Globe
NASA | Human Fingerprint on Global Air Quality
World Health Organization / Special report on health and climate change
"The most direct link between climate change and ill health is air pollution."
"Burning fossil fuels for power, transport and industry is the main source of the carbon emissions that are driving climate change and a major contributor to health-damaging air pollution, which every year kills over seven million people due to exposure inside and outside their homes," according to the health report.
- Particulate air pollution is the single greatest threat to human health globally.
The AQLI establishes that particulate air pollution cuts the average person’s life short by nearly 2 years—more than devastating communicable diseases like tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, behavioral killers like cigarette smoking, and even war.
Particulate matter (PM) refers to solid and liquid particles – soot, smoke, dust, and others – that are suspended in the air. When the air is polluted with PM, these particles enter the respiratory system along with the oxygen that the body needs.
When PM is breathed into the nose or mouth, each particle’s fate depends on its size: the finer the particles, the farther into the body they penetrate. PM10, particles with diameters smaller than 10 micrometers (μm) whose concentration in the air is included in measures of “total suspended matter” (TSP), are small enough to pass through the hairs in the nose. They travel down the respiratory tract and into the lungs, where the metal elements on the surface of the particles oxidize lung cells, damaging their DNA and increasing the risk of cancer. The particles’ interactions with lung cells can also lead to inflammation, irritation, and blocked airflow, increasing the risk of or aggravating lung diseases that make breathing difficult, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), cystic lung disease, and bronchiectasis.
More deadly is an even smaller classification: PM2.5, or particles with diameter less than 2.5 μm—just 3 percent the diameter of a human hair. In addition to contributing to risk of lung disease, PM2.5 particles pass even deeper into the lungs’ alveoli, the blood vessel-covered air sacs in which the bloodstream exchanges oxygen for carbon dioxide. Once PM2.5 particles enter the bloodstream via the alveoli, they inflame and constrict blood vessels or dislodge fatty plaque, increasing blood pressure or creating clots. This can block blood flow to the heart and brain, and over time, lead to stroke or heart attack. In recent years, researchers have even begun to observe that PM pollution is associated with lower cognitive function. They speculate that PM2.5 in the bloodstream may cause the brain to age more quickly due to the inflammation. In addition, it may damage the brain’s white matter, which is what allows different regions of the brain to communicate. White matter damage, such as due to the decreased blood flow that PM2.5 may cause, has been linked to Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Though some particulates arise from natural sources such as dust, sea salt, and wildfires, most PM2.5 pollution is human-induced.
The fact that burning coal pollutes the air has been known for some time. Around 1300, King Edward I of England decided that the punishment for anyone who burned coal in his kingdom would be death. Today, fossil fuel combustion is the leading global source of anthropogenic PM2.5, acting through three distinct pathways:
First, because coal contains sulfur, coal-fired power plants and industrial facilities generate sulfur dioxide gas. Once in the air, the gas may react with oxygen and then ammonia in the atmosphere to form sulfate particulates.
Second, combustion that occurs at high temperatures, such as in vehicle engines and power plants, releases nitrogen dioxide, which undergoes similar chemical reactions in the air to form nitrate particulates.
Finally, diesel engines, coal-fired power plants, and burning of coal for household fuel all involve incomplete combustion. In this type of combustion, not enough oxygen is present to generate the maximum amount of energy possible given the amount of fuel. Part of the excess carbon from the fuel becomes black carbon, a component of PM2.5 that is also the second- or third-most important contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide and perhaps methane....
- #WorstAirQuality IN THE WORLD, CITIES
- 1. #Delhi
- 2. #Dakar
- 3. #Mumbai
- 4. #Beijing
- 5. #Johannesburg
- 6. #Jakarta
- 7. #Tehran
- 8. #Jerusalem
- 9. #Melbourne
- 10. #Lima
- 11. #Seoul
- 12. #Rio
- 13. #Bangkok
- 14. #Milan
- 15. #MexicoCity
- 16. #Tokyo
- 17. #Paris
- 18. #LA
- 19. #London
- 20. #NewYorkCity
In the U.S., the election of Donald Trump in 2016 has resulted in an unprecedented assault of environmental standards and practices put together over the past half century. The costs of this deconstruction have yet to be fully calculated with a full cost accounting, but future generations will undoubtedly have a harsh judgment toward policies that deliver long-term damage. The decisions being made today are impacting clean air, clean water, climate change, health, locally and internationally.
SJS / Siterunner: Years ago the smog in LA was so thick and so persistent that the city was regarded as one of the worst cases of air pollution in the world. Out of that mix of environmental disaster, and damage to a generation of kids whose lungs were affected, came the beginnings of the modern environmental movement. Los Angeles and California were at the forefront of the first set of environmental laws, incl air quality. George E Brown, a mentor and friend for over 30 yrs, was a drafter of the original EPA legis and many other key initiatives that are now at the center of green politics. George would have had strong opinions about the latest moves in the US Congress (circa 2014-2017) to move away from the roll of science and roll back the EPA, environmental protections, the responses to climate change, and the leadership role of the United States that's critically important in today's world...
- Particulate matter can cause similar adverse respiratory consequences and also trigger a range of cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks, strokes, congestive heart failure, and reduced blood supply to the heart. These problems can result in increased hospital admissions or premature death. Particulate matter can also trigger premature birth, raise the risk of autism, stunt lung development in children, and increase the risk that they develop asthma. Recent studies also implicate particulate matter in an increased risk of dementia.
See a snapshot of the 'modern environmental movement' and first-gen environmental laws
The first generation of Air Quality / Air Pollution laws and regulations have, over the past fifty plus years, served as a green political model in the United States and globally.
Now, internationally, countries and cities are adopting "green best practices". Clean-up laws, regulations and technologies are improving energy, transportation, housing and key sectors of local/regional and national economies.
Much progress remains to be planned and accomplished.
Models for action are being shared and scientific monitoring is now being conducted worldwide.
Global atmospheric conditions connect all nations and the work to be done is international.
Air Quality Maps / Global
"Air Pollution" @GreenPolicy360 -- https://www.greenpolicy360.net/w/Category:Air_Pollution
Join the environmental movement, act for clean air, clean water, healthy lives, quality of living
- A breathing app can change the world ...
Healthy Lungs Are Good
A Case Study
"The partnership enables a paradigm-shift in environmental awareness by equipping Street View cars with Aclima’s mobile sensing platform to see the air around us in ways never before possible. Three Street View cars took measurements of nitrogen dioxide, nitric oxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane, black carbon, particulate matter, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) -- air pollutants which can affect human health or climate change." (from the press release announcement)
Our GreenPolicy360 proposals from 2014/15 have come to be !
Here we are in December 2018 !!
Do You Know What You’re Breathing?
Acting to measure the air pollution around you. Acting to make a difference in the air you and your family breathe.
As climate change reports become increasingly dire, and as wildfires tear across the American West, and as trust in the federal government’s air quality oversight fades, thousands of people around the country are taking air measurements into their own hands.
Installed on a porch, a console table or hooked to a backpack, these small, sleek and increasingly inexpensive devices measure hyper-local air quality. They are marketed to the discerning and alarmed consumer. Some have begun to self-identify as “breathers.”
The Atmotube and PlumeLab’s Flow are small and meant to be carried around, testing the air as a person walks or bikes, helping people plan routes that avoid bad air. The Awair looks like an old-timey radio and sits on a counter to test indoor air. Aeroqual’s particulate monitor, one of the most advanced, looks like an enormous old-fashioned cellphone.
But the monitor most intriguing local government environmental protection agencies and civilians alike is PurpleAir. It hooks up outside, connects to Wi-Fi, feeds into a global network and creates something like a guerrilla air quality monitoring network....
Citizen Crowdsourcing, Citizen Networking, Citizen Science in Action
- The Environmental Protection Agency Meets Citizen Science
- Wearable Devices / 'Digibody-type Personal Devices and Apps'
Emerging technology means anyone with a smartphone can become a mobile environmental monitoring station !
Air Visibility Monitoring (Android app) - http://robotics.usc.edu/~mobilesensing/Projects/AirVisibilityMonitoring
Biodiversity Group - http://www.biodiversitygroup.org/
Citizen Science Alliance - http://www.citizensciencealliance.org/
Climate Change and Citizen Science - http://www.slideshare.net/CitizenScienceCentral/citizen-science-and-climate-change-west
Cyber Citizens - http://up.secondwavemedia.com/innovationnews/smartphone100913.aspx
Dark Sky Meter (iOS app) - http://www.darkskymeter.com/home-2/
Eight Apps that Turn Citizens into Scientists - http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/8-apps-that-turn-citizens-into-scientists/
Globe at Night (light pollution) - http://www.globeatnight.org/
Great Sunflower Project / Bees - http://www.greatsunflower.org/
iCoast (USGS) - http://coastal.er.usgs.gov/icoast/about.php
iSpot Nature (Open Lab/Open Univ) - http://www.ispotnature.org/communities/global
International Barcode of Life - http://ibol.org/
LeafSnap (Smithsonian) - http://leafsnap.com/
Loss of the Night (Light Pollution) - http://cosalux.de/#/en/portfolio-en/loss-of-the-night-android-app/
Marine Animal Identification Network (online template) - http://main.whoi.edu/report.cfm
Marine Debris Tracker - http://www.marinedebris.engr.uga.edu/
Mobile Apps for Citizen Science (via Smithsonian) - http://www.ssec.si.edu/blog/mobile-apps-for-citizen-science
NASA Earth Exchange (NEX platform for scientific collaboration, knowledge sharing and research for the Earth science community) - https://nex.nasa.gov/nex/
National Science Foundation (US/"Citizen Science") - http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/science_nation/citizenscience.jsp
NestWatch - http://nestwatch.org/
Nova Energy Lab (PBS-Harvard) - http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/labs/lab/energy/
Ocean Spaces (monitoring marine protected areas) - http://oceanspaces.org/
Open Scientist - http://www.openscientist.org/p/citizen-science-for-your-phone.html
Open Tree (urban forest mapping) - https://www.opentreemap.org/
Open University Lab - http://www.open.ac.uk/researchprojects/open-science/
Project Noah (National Geographic) - http://www.projectnoah.org/
SatCam (iOS app) supports the Terra, Aqua, and Suomi NPP satellites - http://satcam.ssec.wisc.edu/
Scientific American - http://www.scientificamerican.com/citizen-science/
Sensr, Citizen Science app (Carnegie Mellon) - http://www.sensr.org/
Union of Concerned Scientists, You + Your Computer = Carbon Detective - http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/what_you_can_do/climate-change-citizen-science.html#.VLgLJHv44Rk
US Global Change/Climate Assessment (Dec 2014) - http://www.globalchange.gov/news/open-government-data-more-resilient-natural-resources
Whale Song Project - http://whale.fm/
You can be a scientist too (EPA) - http://www.epa.gov/climatestudents/scientists/citizen-science.html
Zooniverse - https://www.zooniverse.org/
Healthy Earth Lungs Are Good
(In the US) economic health and public health haven't been locked in a zero-sum battle. The air is indisputably cleaner today, even after decades of economic growth. As the Obama administration tries to apply the Clean Air Act to a new environmental problem — climate change — it's worth wondering if past performance ever guarantees future results.
An annual report on air quality from the American Lung Association includes a revealing chart that tracks the percentage change in air pollution, gross domestic product, vehicle-miles traveled, population, energy consumption, and carbon dioxide emissions since 1970, when President Richard Nixon signed the Clean Air Act.
The question before the world is whether we can send climate-warming pollutants in the same direction while unlinking carbon emissions from economic growth. At the heart of the economic argument against Obama's Clean Power Plan, which uses the EPA's authority to phase out the most polluting coal plants, is that we just can't afford it. An analysis commissioned by America's Power, a group representing the coal industry, predicts that Obama's plan would cause electricity prices to spike by double digits and could cost the economy up to $39 billion a year.
"I’ve doing this over 25 years," said Paul Billings, senior vice president of advocacy for the American Lung Association. "I’ve heard this from industry every single time EPA has tried to tighten a standard."
Early evidence from carbon-cutting programs suggests that economies are not left in ruins. Nine northeastern states would have produced 24 percent more emissions if they hadn't formed the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in 2009. From 2009 to 2014, their combined GDP grew by about 8 percent. British Columbia enacted a carbon tax in 2008. Emissions per capita fell 12.9 percent below its pre-tax years—3.5 times larger than the overall decline in Canadian per capita emissions—and the province has not become an economic basket case.
The EPA has studied the effects of the Clean Air Act repeatedly. A first major review came in the 1990s, when researchers found that from 1970 to 1990, cumulative benefits—which include reductions in deaths and illnesses from asthma, heart attacks, and stroke — outweighed costs by an average ranging from $22.2 trillion to $563 billion... it's possible to reduce pollution without crimping economic growth, defying doomsayers' predictions.
One Day's Toxic Air News Pulled from the Headlines
February 10th, 2017
Decades ago Mexico City's air pollution was so poor, birds would fall out of the sky -- dead. Locals said living there was like smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, according to one report. In response, Mexico City took several steps to try to improve air quality including restricting driving one or two days during the weekdays. The program has had negligible results.
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