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Santiago, ChileChile Declares Emergency Over Air pollution Extremely high level of air pollution in the Chilean capital of Santiago has forced authorities to declare a state of environmental emergency in the Santiago metropolitan area for Monday, the country’s environment ministry said in a statement.

NEC directive executive summaryMany European Countries’ Air Pollution Emissions Above Legal Limits  Air pollutant emissions in the EU continue to exceed legal limits, according to a report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) published today. Preliminary data for 2013 shows that ten EU Member States exceeded one or more of their emission ceilings for key pollutants.

LondonLondon’s toxic air ‘has already caused over 1300 premature deaths  this year’  More than 1,300 Londoners have already died prematurely due to toxic air so far this year, campaigners warned today.

MERSSouth Korea reports 7th death from MERS South Korea’s health ministry said on Tuesday a patient infected with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus has died, becoming the seventh fatality in an outbreak that began in May.

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Transport fares discounted to reduce ozone pollution

The current heat wave has resulted in peak levels of ozone pollution. Certain Swiss cantons have announced discounted fares on public transport to encourage people to avoid using cars and thus reduce pollution.

In Geneva, all regional public transport services are discounted, and will remain so until the ozone level returns to an acceptable level, authorities revealed on Friday. For example, a second class day pass on the Geneva public transport system that costs CHF10 ($10.6) has now been reduced to CHF7.30. Similar measures have also been adopted by the neighbouring cantons of Vaud and Valais.

In recent days, the ozone levels have increased up to 260 micrograms per cubic metre compared to an acceptable level of 120 micrograms.

While ozone forms a protective layer in the upper atmosphere shielding us from harmful ultraviolet radiation, ground level ozone is a major pollutant and is responsible for respiratory illnesses. This “bad ozone” is formed when volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides from sources like vehicle emissions interact in the presence of heat and sunlight.

via Transport fares discounted to reduce ozone pollution – SWI swissinfo.ch.

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London faces ‘secret pollution’ from refrigerated vans taking food to smaller stores

London

London’s residential neighbourhoods are being choked by “secret pollution” emitted by trucks delivering chilled food to the new generation of local supermarket convenience stores, according to a report.

Many of the hundreds of daily deliveries of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and fish to the supermarkets are made by small lorries using diesel-powered transport refrigeration units (TRUs).

However, the largely unregulated motors that power them are belching out huge quantities of dangerous particulates and nitrogen dioxide gases, according to the study by London technology company Dearman.

Its research has found that TRUs give out 164 times more particulates — the microscopic sooty flakes that are a by-product of burning diesel —than a diesel car.

There are estimated to be 84,000 TRUs in Britain, many used by the big supermarkets and chains such as coffee shops that sell chilled food. Many home deliveries by the likes of Ocado and Tesco.com use vans with TRUs but these are usually run off the vehicle’s engine rather than a separate unit.

Dr Tim Fox, former head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and a global ambassador to Dearman, said: “TRUs are hidden polluters that are coming into these residential areas and pumping out significant amounts of NOX and particulates.

Their use has increased as a result of the increased demand for chilled and frozen products and the increased interest in artisan and fresh food available locally. A lack of regulation has been a feature of this area of technology, they sweep in under the radar.”

Dearman, which has bases in Covent Garden and Croydon, is working on an alternative “clean” system using liquid nitrogen to chill food. It estimates that converting all TRUs to the zero-emission technology would take the equivalent of 5.5 million diesel cars and 500,000 trucks off the road.

via London faces ‘secret pollution’ from refrigerated vans taking food to smaller stores – London – News – London Evening Standard.

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Metro Vancouver issues air quality advisory due to smoke from wildfires

Metro Vancouver has issued an air quality advisory due to the fine particulates in smoke from wildfires that have invaded the region.

People with chronic medical conditions are being warned to avoid strenuous exercise or to stay inside.

Health officials say exposure is a particular concern for infants, the elderly and those who have lung or heart disease or diabetes.

Roger Quan, Metro Vancouver’s director of air quality said the region didn’t feel it was necessary to issue an advisory Sunday morning because the smoke was being held aloft.

But as the day progressed he said air turbulence picked up and there was more “vertical mixing.”

Similar concentrations of smoke were also being reported over Vancouver Island.

Those wishing to monitor changes in the air quality, can find real time readings at http://www.airmap.ca and http://www.bcairquality.ca.

What is fine particulate matter?

Fine particulate matter refers to airborne solid or liquid droplets with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres (μm) or less.

It is also known as PM2.5. PM2.5 concentrations tend to be highest around busy roads, industrial operations, major ports as well as areas with residential wood burning.

PM2.5 can easily penetrate indoors because of its small size.

Tips to reduce your personal health risk.

  • Avoid roads with heavy vehicle traffic and areas with wood smoke.
  • Stay cool and drink plenty of water.
  • Continue to manage medical conditions such as asthma, chronic respiratory disease and heart failure. If symptoms continue to be bothersome, seek medical attention
  • Stay in a cool, air-conditioned environment and reduce indoor sources of pollution such as smoking and vacuuming.
  • Run an air cleaner. Some room air cleaners, such as HEPA filters, can help reduce indoor particulate levels
  • Take shelter in air-conditioned buildings which have large indoor volumes and limited entry of outdoor air.

via Metro Vancouver issues air quality advisory due to smoke from wildfires – British Columbia – CBC News.

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Air quality here still ‘moderate’

The air quality has worsened slightly in Singapore and parts of Malaysia.

In Singapore, the three-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) hit 79 at 12pm yesterday, up from 64 at 6am. As of 7pm, it was 67.

The 24-hour PSI reading – which the Government has said is a better indicator of whether people should worry about their health – also rose yesterday. At 7pm, it was 66-72 for the whole of Singapore, up from 58-62 at 12am.

A reading from 51 to 100 is in the moderate range, while a reading of 101 to 200 is considered unhealthy.

In Malaysia, the country’s Natural Resources and Environment Minister, G. Palanivel, said that places like the Klang Valley and Nilai had moderate air quality, due to small fires at local levels amid the hot and dry weather.

As of 11am yesterday, the Air Pollution Index for 15 areas recorded good air quality while another 31 areas had moderate air quality, he said in a statement.

“None of the areas recorded unhealthy air quality,” he said.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department said the hazy conditions in Malaysia might worsen in the next two months, if the dry season continues.

Recent observations also showed that Malaysia might encounter moderate transboundary haze if the heatwave continues.

Transboundary haze is the movement of haze from one country to another, explained Hisham Mohd Anip, a senior meteorologist from the department’s National Weather Centre.

He said there might be an increase in haze in Malaysia and neighbouring countries, even as far as north Australia, if the dry season progresses.

via Air quality here still ‘moderate’ , AsiaOne Singapore News.

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Heat brings air pollution warning

Air pollution levels were sent soaring on the hottest July day on record, with government alerts issued in three regions.

Sunny weather and temperatures as high as 36.7C (98F) resulted in moderate pollution across much of England, with dangerously high levels measured in Eastern England, the East Midlands and the South East.

Pollution levels in the West Midlands are also currently considered “High”.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) warned those vulnerable to the effects of pollution to be cautious.

On its website, Defra said: “People with lung disease, children, the elderly and people who are active outdoors may be particularly sensitive to ozone and may begin to notice respiratory symptoms, such as coughing and throat irritation.

“People with asthma are not necessarily more sensitive but, if affected, can use their ‘reliever’ inhaler to alleviate symptoms.

“If affected, people are urged to take sensible precautions such as reducing strenuous exercise. Individual exposure to ozone can be reduced by avoiding exercising outdoors during the afternoon, because this is the time of day when ozone levels are at their highest.”

Moderate levels of pollution are expected to remain throughout Thursday and Friday, before subsiding over the weekend.

via Heat brings air pollution warning – BT.

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‘Make air pollution visible’ campaign launched to improve UK air quality

London

A new campaign plans to bring together businesses, government and local groups to solve the problem of air pollution in the UK.

Deliver Change, a non-profit organisation focused on sustainable technology projects, launched the campaign in central London yesterday (29 June) at an event hosted by the Wellcome Trust.

The ‘Let’s make air pollution visible’ initiative aims to bring together businesses and policy makers to tackle poor air quality in the UK.

Deliver Change chief executive Jonathan Steel said: “Air pollution remains the greatest invisible threat to our health today, as well as to the economic performance of our cities. People are waking up to the problem, but we need to be able to see the ‘unseeable’.”

Deliver Change is also piloting its air quality monitoring network, AirSensa, which uses thousands of air pollution monitors to collect data on air pollution in UK cities. The data collected will help inform solutions for solving air quality problems.

Steel added: “We’re building partnerships with organisations that can take action based on that data, which is what the ‘Visible’ initiative is all about.”

Visible data

Businesses are already backing the new Deliver Change initiative. Patrick Gallagher, chief executive of courier company CitySprint, said: “Most businesses are already taking some steps to tackle climate change and promote sustainability. But we recognise that our business, like almost any, has an impact on the environment. We have a responsibility to find more ways to mitigate the impact of this.

“To date, there has not been enough reliable air monitoring information to help drive change, so we are proud to support the Visible initiative.”

Air pollution is thought to contribute to more than 29,000 premature deaths each year in the UK.  In April the UK Government was ordered by the Supreme Court to improve air quality standards and reduce the levels of nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere. The World Health Organisation estimates the problem costs the economy £53bn each year.

via ‘Make air pollution visible’ campaign launched to improve UK air quality.

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Heathrow expansion risks deepening London’s air pollution crisis

lhrThe UK government’s Airports Commission has recommended that a new runway at Heathrow should go ahead, but only with a legally binding commitment to control air and noise pollution.

If the government decides to act on Howard Davies’ recommendation (and doing so would be a political minefield) Londoners will be forgiven for treating any air quality guarantees with a heavy pinch of salt.

Even before Wednesday morning’s announcement, London’s air quality was so bad that the government did not expect it to meet EU safety thresholds before 2030 – a full two decades later than the European deadline.

In April, the supreme court ordered David Cameron’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) team to come up with a new plan by the end of the year to clean up London’s polluted skies as soon as possible. Their chances of doing so have just been blown wildly off course.

“The scale of the challenge facing Defra was already enormous but this turns it into a Herculean task,” said Anna Heslop, a lawyer for the green law firm ClientEarth, which brought a case against Whitehall over its failure to tackle air quality. “It is a matter for the government to decide whether they now think it is impossible or not.”

Heathrow is one of the UK’s pollution hotspots. In 2012, it breached safety thresholds for nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter air content at several different locations – and times – according to the airport’s own measurements.

Much of the pollution comes from the phalanxes of cars, taxis and buses which deposit and pick up travellers, rather than the planes themselves. To offset the traffic increase from any third runway, the government will, at the minimum, have to consider congestion zones, vehicle bans and changed bus routes, Heslop says.

As things are, an air quality map drawn up by independent monitors at Kings College shows a big yellow blob of fetid air squatting to the west of London, where Heathrow sits.

And local air pollution is only part of the story. A third runway will mean more flights and so more CO2 emissions contributing to climate breakdown.

The aviation industry is responsible for around five percent of annual global warming, when these emissions, along with water vapour, soot and sulphates, contrails, and enhanced sirrus cloud formations are added to its CO2 figures. That contribution is rising fast. By 2030, airline emissions are projected to double from 2005 levels. Between 1990 and 2006, they rose 87% in Europe alone.

The Airports commission concluded that a new runway could be compatible with the UK’s legally-binding climate targets. But this would depend on improbable improvements in aircraft efficiency; a misreading of the climate impacts of available biofuels; and a 6,600% increase in carbon taxes, according to Greenpeace UK’s chief scientist, Doug Parr.

“This is just a smokescreen to hide the obvious fact that a new runway will almost certainly derail our legally-binding climate targets,” he said. “In the year the world is coming together to tackle climate change, we should be talking about how to manage demand, not where to store up a new carbon bomb.”

 

Ironically, demand for air travel is actually falling in the business sector, with 61% of FTSE 500 companies in one poll saying they expected to travel more by train and 87% expecting to use more video conferencing in future. Most of the demand that the new runway is likely to cater for comes from a relatively small group of wealthy travellers – around 15% of the UK population who take 70% of all flights.

To remain compatible with the Climate Change Act’s target of limiting aviation emissions to 37.5m tonnes of CO2 in 2050, the Aviation Environment Foundation estimates that 36% fewer passengers would have to fly in and out of airports in the southwest, 11% less in Scotland, 14% less in the northwest, and 55% less in the West Midlands.

If the benefits of a third runway are easily available only to a few, its environmental, health and climate costs could well end up being paid by many.

via Heathrow expansion risks deepening London’s air pollution crisis | Environment | The Guardian.

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Most parts of Scotland to be hit by air pollution

A moderate air pollution episode is expected to hit most parts of Scotland tomorrow (Wednesday), according to a leading environmental campaign charity.

Friends of the Earth Scotland has warned that air safety standards are forecasted to be broken in 31 council areas across the country on July 1.

This will be the third air pollution episode of the year with others having already occurred in April and March.

Air pollution is measured on a 1-10 scale – 1-3 is low, 4-6 is moderate (over legal limits), 7-9 is high and 10 is very high.
Tomorrow every Scottish council area is forecasted to breach safety standards with air pollution falling into the moderate category, except for one council area – Eilean Siar in the Outer Hebrides.

Emilia Hanna, air pollution campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “The official health advice for the expected levels of air pollution is for people with heart and lung problems such as asthma or emphysema, who experience symptoms, to consider reducing strenuous physical activity, particularly outdoors.”

Emilia warned that while people with existing respiratory problems are at increased risk tomorrow, the public’s health is damaged by air pollution every day and not just on days when pollution is high.

She explained: “Regular exposure to the levels of pollution that we see day in, day out on city streets in Scotland increases the risk of people having a heart attack or stroke.

“Most disturbingly, air pollution impacts on foetal development, with newborn babies more likely to have lower birth weights if expectant mothers are exposed to air pollution throughout pregnancy. Air pollution causes 2000 early deaths every year in Scotland.”

Ground-level ozone is understood to be the key pollutant of concern during this episode, with levels predicted to break World Health Organisation safety guidelines.

Ozone is considered to be among the most irritating gases to humans, and exposure to high levels can cause respiratory symptoms, reduce lung function, and cause inflammation of the airways.

Emilia continued: “Some of this air pollution will have blown in from elsewhere but it is adding to the heavy air pollution caused by traffic on our streets.

“To combat the worst of tomorrow’s air pollution impacts, the Government should advise people to avoid driving. But it must also introduce longer term measures to reduce traffic levels on our streets.

“The Government recently announced that it would work with a local authority to develop a Low Emission Zone. This is a welcome step, but we need to see this plan in action, and fast.”

She added: “Tackling air pollution will save lives and reduce costs to the NHS, in addition to helping Scotland meet its climate change emission targets.”

See the latest air pollution forecast at Scottish air quality

via Most parts of Scotland to be hit by air pollution – Falkirk Herald.

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