Pollution

Acid rain's effects on forest soils found to be reversing
November 8, 2015 08:47 AM - USGS Newsroom

Soil acidification from acid rain that is harmful to plant and aquatic life has now begun to reverse in forests of the northeastern United States and eastern Canada, according to an American-Canadian collaboration of five institutions led by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The new research shows that these changes are strongly linked to acid rain decreases, although some results differ from expected responses.  

"Reduced acid rain levels resulting from American and Canadian air-pollution control measures have begun to reverse soil acidification across this broad region," said Gregory Lawrence, a USGS soil and water chemist and lead author.  "Prior to this study, published research on soils indicated that soil acidification was worsening in most areas despite several decades of declining acid rain.  However, those studies relied on data that only extended up to 2004, whereas the data in this study extended up to 2014. "

The new imperative in buildings, cleaner air!
November 6, 2015 06:59 AM - Bill Roth, Triple Pundit

A study just published by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has linked a building’s indoor air quality directly to its occupants’ cognitive function. Cognitive function is defined as the cerebral activities that lead to knowledge including acquiring information, reasoning, attention, memory and language.

The revolutionary finding of this study is that lowering indoor air levels of carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) improves human cognitive function. In other words: Cleaner air makes us smarter!

More bad news for VW: CO2, gas engines involved
November 4, 2015 09:09 AM - EurActiv

Germany's Volkswagen said Tuesday (3 November) an internal probe had found that 800,000 more vehicles showed "inconsistencies" on carbon dioxide emissions, including the first petrol engines.

Among the engines affected are 1.4, 1.6 and 2.0 litre motors of VW, Skoda, Audi and Seat vehicles, said a VW spokesman, adding that these cars had been found to be releasing more of greenhouse gas CO2 than previous tests had shown.

At least one petrol engine is concerned, the company said.

Nuclear waste site near St Louis threatened by landfill fire
November 3, 2015 07:49 AM - VĂ©ronique LaCapra/St. Louis Public Radio, NPR

Imagine you are a parent, and that out of the blue, you get a letter from your child's school telling you not to worry — that they're ready to evacuate or shelter in place if an underground fire at a nearby landfill reaches radioactive waste on the same property.

That's pretty much what happened recently in suburban St. Louis.

Landfill fires are pretty common. But this one is different: It's only about a thousand feet away from nearly 9,000 tons of nuclear waste — and there's no barrier in between.

Volkswagen's "premium" brands cheated too
November 3, 2015 07:34 AM - Eurctiv

The Volkswagen emissions-cheating scandal widened Monday (2 November) as US regulators said the German automaker also included illegal "defeat devices" on its larger 3.0 liter diesel engines over the past three years.

But the Environmental Protection Agency said it had discovered in its investigation that various six-cylinder 3.0 liter diesel VW Touareg, Porsche Cayenne and Audis from the 2014-2016 model years and distributed in the United States had also been rigged with the software.

Should government buildings offer free Electric Vehicle charging?
November 2, 2015 06:49 AM - MARK BENSON , Electric Forum

As governments around the world continue to push the concept of electric vehicles there are growing calls for all government buildings to offer free EV charging. This would certainly kickstart the concerns regarding EV charging networks which seems to be at the forefront of the minds of many sceptics. So, how would this concept work and is it really viable?

Helping the electric vehicle industry

While many governments around the world are doing a significant amount of work behind the scenes to help the electric vehicle market, could they do more? It would be wrong to suggest that all government buildings do not offer any form of electric vehicle charging but for many people these services are few and far between. When you consider that countries such as the UK employ more than 50% of the workforce in public services there must be an enormous scope to assist the industry?

Global warming continuing
November 1, 2015 07:58 AM - UN News Centre

Earth has just had the hottest January-September on record, the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said today, adding that the average air and sea temperatures in September logged the greatest rise above monthly average in the 136-year historical record.

According to a press release from WMO, the Global Climate Report from the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the globally averaged air temperature over land and sea surface temperature for September was 0.90°C (1.62°F) above the 20th century average temperature. Record warmth was observed across much of South America and parts of Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia.

2015 Antarctic Ozone Hole larger and formed later than previous holes
October 30, 2015 06:17 AM - NASA

The 2015 Antarctic ozone hole area was larger and formed later than in recent years, said scientists from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Assessing the health and economic consequences of Dieselgate
October 29, 2015 08:01 AM - MIT News

Volkswagen’s use of software to evade emissions standards in more than 482,000 diesel vehicles sold in the U.S. will directly contribute to 60 premature deaths across the country, a new MIT-led study finds.

In September, the Environmental Protection Agency discovered that the German automaker had developed and installed “defeat devices” (actually software) in light-duty diesel vehicles sold between 2008 and 2015. This software was designed to sense when a car was undergoing an emissions test, and only then engage the vehicle’s full emissions-control system, which would otherwise be disabled under normal driving conditions — a cheat that allows the vehicles to emit 40 times more emissions than permitted by the Clean Air Act.

That amount of excess pollution, multiplied by the number of affected vehicles sold in the U.S. and extrapolated over population distributions and health risk factors across the country, will have significant effects on public health, the study finds.

Historic Nitrate Levels Still Plague U.S. Rivers
October 29, 2015 06:16 AM - USGS Newsroom

During 1945 to 1980, nitrate levels in large U.S. rivers increased up to fivefold in intensively managed agricultural areas of the Midwest, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study. In recent decades, nitrate changes have been smaller and levels have remained high in most of the rivers studied. 

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