Sci/tech

Chemicals of Concern
December 31, 2009 02:05 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

As part of Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s commitment to strengthen and reform chemical management, the US EPA today announced a series of actions on four chemicals raising serious potential health or environmental concerns, including phthalates. For the first time, EPA intends to establish a “Chemicals of Concern” list and is beginning a process that may lead to regulations requiring significant risk reduction measures to protect human health and the environment. The agency’s actions represent its determination to use its authority under the existing Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to the fullest extent possible, recognizing EPA’s strong belief that the 1976 law is both outdated and in need of reform.

Volcano Monitoring to Benefit from Stimulus Funds
December 30, 2009 07:17 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

The US Geological Survey will use Recovery Act funding to improve its ability to monitor volcanoes and to predict their eruptions. Some of the funds will be used to modernize instrumentation and information systems to state-of-the-art, providing the necessary tools to communicate hazard information quickly to those who need it. The United States and its territories contain 169 volcanoes considered capable of erupting. One, Kilauea in Hawaii, has been erupting continuously for the past 26 years, at times inundating residential areas with lava and at other times requiring national park closures due to explosions and toxic gas.

Middle East/Med Region Could Solar Power World
December 28, 2009 06:47 AM - Maurice Picow, Green Prophet

Middle Eastern and North African countries, often referred to under the umbrella term MENA countries, have the potential to create more than 3 times the world's power needs, according to a new study reported in the Dubai-based Khaleej Times. Countries that move fast, the study suggests, could have the competitive advantage. Who could take the lead: MENA countries, especially ones located on the Arabian Peninsula, as well as others like Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel could be. These countries are no strangers to the notion of solar energy, and Green Prophet has covered countless articles touting solar energy in the Middle East.

EPA Updates Mobile Source Emissions Model
December 27, 2009 01:31 PM - Roger Greenway, ENN

The US EPA is the source of most air quality impact assessment models used in the US for regulatory purposes, such as predicting the potential impacts from proposed stationary sources of air pollutants and mobile sources such as motor vehicles. Since motor vehicle emissions vary with regulatory changes in required emission level, it is important that impact modeling be performed with the most up-to-date models. EPA recently announced that an updated version of the Motor Vehicle Emission Simulator (MOVES) model – MOVES2010 – is now available for use to estimate air pollution from cars, trucks, and other on-road mobile sources. The model can also calculate the emissions reduction benefits from a range of mobile source control strategies, such as inspection and maintenance programs and local fuel standards.

EPA Curbs Ship Emissions
December 24, 2009 12:04 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The US EPA has finalized a rule setting tough engine fuel standards for large US flagged ships, a major milestone in the agency's coordinated strategy to slash harmful marine diesel emissions. The regulation harmonizes with international standards and will lead to significant air quality improvements throughout the country. "There are enormous health and environmental consequences that come from marine diesel emissions, affecting both port cities and communities hundreds of miles inland. Stronger standards will help make large ships cleaner and more efficient, and protect millions of Americans from harmful diesel emissions," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "Port communities have identified diesel emissions as one of the greatest health threats facing their people especially their children. These new rules mark a step forward in cutting dangerous pollution in the air we breathe and reducing the harm to our health, our environment, and our economy."

Sun Changes and How it May Effect the Climate
December 22, 2009 01:44 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The Active Cavity Radiometer Irradiance Monitor Satellite (AcrimSat) monitors the total amount of the sun's energy reaching Earth. It is this energy, called total solar irradiance, that creates the winds, heats the land and drives ocean currents. Some scientists theorize a significant fraction of Earth's warming may be solar in origin due to small increases in the sun's total energy output since the last century. By measuring incoming solar radiation, climatologists are can improve their predictions of climate change and global warming over the next century.

British Antarctic Survey finds rich Antarctic marine life
December 22, 2009 07:44 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

The British Antarctic Survey has released new photographs of ice fish, octopus, sea pigs, giant sea spiders, rare rays and beautiful basket stars that live in Antarctica's continental shelf seas are revealed this week by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). As part of an international study on sea surface to seabed biodiversity a research team from across Europe, USA, Australia and South Africa onboard the BAS Royal Research Ship James Clark Ross sampled a bizarre collection of marine creatures from the Bellingshausen Sea, West Antarctica – one of the fastest warming seas in the world. Research cruise leader Dr. David Barnes of British Antarctic Survey said,

Toxic Releases Decrease Nationwide
December 21, 2009 04:08 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The USEPA released today the 2008 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) report which provides information on toxic chemicals used and released by utilities, refineries, chemical manufacturers, paper companies, and many other facilities across the nation to all media whether it is air, water or solid waste. The TRI is compiled from data submitted to EPA and the States by industry. For the EPA’s mid-Atlantic region, the 2008 TRI data indicate a 9.1 percent decrease of 35.2 million pounds of on and off site chemical releases as compared with 2007. A total of 350 million pounds of chemicals were released during 2008 to the air, water or landfills by facilities in the mid-Atlantic region which includes Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.

NASA Image Confirms Lake on Titan
December 21, 2009 10:52 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

NASA has released a stunning photograph of Saturn’s moon Titan showing a glint of sunlight off a lake. The Cassini Spacecraft captured the first flash of sunlight reflected off a lake confirming the presence of liquid on the part of the moon dotted with many large, lake-shaped basins.

US Geological Survey Study of Oceanic Circulation
December 21, 2009 06:30 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

The USGS released an important study of the deep ocean’s temperature variability and circulation system that could help improve projections of future climate conditions. The deep ocean is apparently affected more by surface warming than previously thought, and this understanding allows for more accurate predictions of factors such as sea level rise and ice volume changes.

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