To a scientist, having new data to study is like a child having a new candy store to explore. With the EPA’s release of new air pollution rules, I’ve just learned of the Willy Wonka Factory of data in my field of study. The rules require new air quality monitors near major roadways in US cities. The new data will ultimately help us better protect from harmful air pollutants the millions of Americans who live, work, and play close to major roads.
August 29th, 2013
June 26th, 2013
Over the last two weeks, large numbers of fires have broken out on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, and once again this has led to massive air pollution, carried to neighboring countries such as Singapore and Malaysia. This time, however, people could see not only the choking, dangerous “haze,” but also the locations of the fires, including which ones were on lands used by companies to produce palm, oil, pulpwood, timber, and other commodities. GIS technology and publicly available data, rapidly analyzed by scientists, brought a transparency to the issue that is so sorely lacking in the air over Singapore.
May 31st, 2013
Echoing back to classic Cold War struggles, Russia has blocked Western European and U.S. efforts by apparently scuttling international plans to reduce hazardous pollution from ships starting in 2016. The “Tier III” amendment to the International Maritime Organization’s MARPOL standards would have required new engines that power the largest ships to include pollution control devices. These devices — such as selective catalytic reduction (SCR) — dramatically reduce the amount of nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide (collectively known as NOx) gases leaving a ship’s funnels. Read More
May 21st, 2013
Of my many childhood memories, most of which can be looked back at with a smile and involved sports in some way, one that stands out with a great deal of clarity was my first asthma attack. Read More
December 14th, 2012
The Environmental Protection Agency will revise the air pollution standard for particulate matter today to be in line with the best available science, reports the Washington Post. Particulate matter is the primary component of soot. It is encouraging to see the agency following the Clean Air Act, especially in the face of strong industry pressure to ignore science again. Read More
August 24th, 2012
The Chevron oil refinery in Richmond, California — one of the largest in the country — had an explosion and serious fire on August 6 that spewed toxic black smoke across the sky. News reports indicate that more than 4,000 area residents sought medical treatment, primarily for respiratory ailments including chest pain and problems breathing, related to the fire. Read More
July 18th, 2012
The Washington Post is reporting that the White House—again—is interfering with the EPA’s ability to set scientific air pollution standards. Last time, it was the president who prevented the EPA from strengthening the air quality standard for ozone, despite the unanimous advice of the agency’s independent scientific advisory committee. This time, the interference is coming from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Read More