Better combustion for power generation
May 31, 2016 10:49 AM - DOE/OAK RIDGE NATIONAL LABORATORY via EurekAlert!
In the United States, the use of natural gas for electricity generation continues to grow. The driving forces behind this development? A boom in domestic natural gas production, historically low prices, and increased scrutiny over fossil fuels' carbon emissions.
Living near a landfill could damage your health
May 26, 2016 06:56 AM - Oxford University Press via EurekAlert!
According to research published today in the International Journal of Epidemiology, health is at risk for those who live within five kilometres of a landfill site.
Study shows how air pollution fosters heart disease
May 24, 2016 07:12 PM - Elizabeth Sharpe, University of Washington Health Sciences
Long-term exposure to air pollution has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, but the biological process has not been understood. A major, decade-long study of thousands of Americans found that people living in areas with more outdoor pollution —even at lower levels common in the United States — accumulate deposits in the arteries that supply the heart faster than do people living in less polluted areas. The study was published May 24 online in The Lancet.
Anthropogenic dust found to have long-rangimg impacts to oceans
May 17, 2016 09:47 AM - Georgia Institute of Technology via ScienceDaily
As climatologists closely monitor the impact of human activity on the world's oceans, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have found yet another worrying trend impacting the health of the Pacific Ocean.
A new modeling study conducted by researchers in Georgia Tech's School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences shows that for decades, air pollution drifting from East Asia out over the world's largest ocean has kicked off a chain reaction that contributed to oxygen levels falling in tropical waters thousands of miles away.
"There's a growing awareness that oxygen levels in the ocean may be changing over time," said Taka Ito, an associate professor at Georgia Tech. "One reason for that is the warming environment -- warm water holds less gas. But in the tropical Pacific, the oxygen level has been falling at a much faster rate than the temperature change can explain."
The study, which was published May 16 in Nature Geoscience, was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, a Georgia Power Faculty Scholar Chair and a Cullen-Peck Faculty Fellowship.
In the report, the researchers describe how air pollution from industrial activities had raised levels of iron and nitrogen -- key nutrients for marine life -- in the ocean off the coast of East Asia. Ocean currents then carried the nutrients to tropical regions, where they were consumed by photosynthesizing phytoplankton.
A Major Source of Air Pollution: Farms
May 16, 2016 07:05 PM - Earth Institute, Columbia University
A new study says that emissions from farms outweigh all other human sources of fine-particulate air pollution in much of the United States, Europe, Russia and China. The culprit: fumes from nitrogen-rich fertilizers and animal waste that combine in the air with industrial emissions to form solid particles—a huge source of disease and death. The good news: if industrial emissions decline in coming decades, as most projections say, fine-particle pollution will go down even if fertilizer use doubles as expected. The study appears this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
Agricultural air pollution comes mainly in the form of ammonia, which enters the air as a gas from heavily fertilized fields and livestock waste. It then combines with pollutants from combustion—mainly nitrogen oxides and sulfates from vehicles, power plants and industrial processes—to create tiny solid particles, or aerosols, no more than 2.5 micrometers across, about 1/30 the width of a human hair. The particles can penetrate deep into lungs, causing heart or pulmonary disease; a 2015 study in the journal Nature estimates they cause at least 3.3 million deaths each year globally.
U of I study finds declining sulfur levels in soils and rivers in Midwest
May 10, 2016 06:49 AM - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Air pollution legislation to control fossil fuel emissions and the associated acid rain has worked – perhaps leading to the need for sulfur fertilizers for crop production. A University of Illinois study drawing from over 20 years of data shows that sulfur levels in Midwest watersheds and rivers have steadily declined, so much so that farmers may need to consider applying sulfur in the not too distant future.
“We don’t think there are actual sulfur deficiencies yet, but clearly more sulfur is coming out of the soil and water than what is going in,” says U of I biogeochemist Mark David. “As the Clean Air Act and amendments have taken effect there has been a reduction in sulfur emissions from coal combustion, so that the amount of atmospheric sulfur deposited each year is only 25 percent of what it used to be. At some point, farmers are going to have to fertilize with sulfur.”
Why aren't hybrid car owners showing more loyalty to hybrids?
April 29, 2016 07:51 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit
Hybrid cars have come a long way since the first frumpy Toyota Prius debuted in Japan almost 20 years ago. The same can be said for electric cars since GM rolled out its EV1 in the late 1990s, only to backtrack, repossess and destroy all of them, infuriating its fans in the process. There are now dozens of hybrid models, and they enjoyed a surge in saleswhen gasoline prices spiked in 2007 and again in 2012. But more recently, their sales overall have been on the decline. Meanwhile electric vehicles are becoming more sophisticated, are improving their range and have seen sales on the uptick while the automakers have become more competitive in their advertising.
As expected, hybrid cars’ sluggish sales numbers have much to do with the fact that oil prices have been in a two-year slump while conventional gasoline engines keep getting cleaner and more fuel efficient. When hybrids started becoming more popular a decade ago, it was often assumed that when it came time for a new upgrade, owners would stay loyal and trade in one hybrid car for another.
Carbon dioxide fertilization is greening the Earth
April 28, 2016 07:08 AM - Samson Reiny, NASA
From a quarter to half of Earth’s vegetated lands has shown significant greening over the last 35 years largely due to rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change on April 25.
The impacts of air pollution on the developing fetus
April 27, 2016 11:31 AM - JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY BLOOMBERG SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH, via EurekAlert.
Even small amounts of air pollution appear to raise the risk of a condition in pregnant women linked to premature births and lifelong neurological and respiratory disorders in their children, new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research suggests.
Fine particles from car exhaust, power plants and other industrial sources are breathed into the lungs, but the scientists have now found evidence of the effects of that pollution in the pregnant women's placentas, the organ that connects her to her fetus and provides blood, oxygen and nutrition. They found that the greater the maternal exposure to air pollution, the more likely the pregnant women suffered from a condition called intrauterine inflammation, which can increase the risk of a number of health problems for her child from the fetal stage well into childhood.
Chernobyl, three decades on
April 26, 2016 06:45 AM - Steven Powell, University of South Carolina
It was 30 years ago that a meltdown at the V. I. Lenin Nuclear Power Station in the former Soviet Union released radioactive contaminants into the surroundings in northern Ukraine. Airborne contamination from what is now generally termed the Chernobyl disaster spread well beyond the immediate environs of the power plant, and a roughly 1000-square-mile region in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia remains cordoned off, an exclusion zone where human habitation is forbidden.
The radiation spill was a disaster for the environment and its biological inhabitants, but it also created a unique radio-ecological laboratory.