EPA and DOT announce new truck standards

EPA and DOT Finalize Greenhouse Gas and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Heavy-Duty Trucks

Truck on a road
The final standards are cost effective for consumers and businesses.

EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) jointly finalized standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles that will improve fuel efficiency and cut carbon pollution, while bolstering energy security and spurring manufacturing innovation. The final phase two standards were called for by President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, and respond to the President’s directive in early 2014 to develop new standards that run into the next decade.

The final standards are expected to lower CO2 emissions by approximately 1.1 billion metric tons, save vehicle owners fuel costs of about $170 billion, and reduce oil consumption by up to two billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program. Read more about the new standards.

Read a joint blog post by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx on how these standards are helping to address climate change.

The New York Times reports on air pollution in major cities

A review of air pollution levels in the world’s largest cities.

Pollution Around the World: A Matter of Choices
Europe’s level of pollution may surprise some people, but it all comes down to a society’s priorities.

State of the Air – 2014

The American Lung Association has released its State of the Air report for 2014. To see the full report, go to http://www.stateoftheair.org/  Enter the zip code for your area for fine particulate measurements.  Cumberland Co. does not have an ozone monitor, so you will have to rely on the data from Dauphin Co.

The Job-Creating Mercury Rule

New York Times – Published: February 22, 2012

After 20 years of delay and litigation by polluters, the Obama administration approved in December one of the most important rules in the history of the Clean Air Act. It will require power plants to reduce emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants by more than 90 percent in the next five years and is expected to prevent as many as 11,000 premature deaths annually from asthma, other respiratory diseases and heart attacks.  More …


Clean Air Board Community Meeting, June 2, 2011, 7 pm

“Reducing Diesel Particulate Emissions from Construction Projects”

CAB will look at successful projects which reduced particulate emissions from diesel engines at construction sites.

The presentation will be held at the Second Presbyterian Church, 528 Garland Drive, Carlisle, PA 17013, on June 2, at 7 pm.   Join us for a discussion of this important topic.

Particulate Air Pollution Affects Heart, Research Finds: Science Daily

Particulate Air Pollution Affects Heart, Research Finds

ScienceDaily (May 20, 2010) — Breathing polluted air increases stress on the heart’s regulation capacity, up to six hours after inhalation of combustion-related small particles called PM2.5, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers.

Stress on the heart from exposure to high levels of PM2.5 may contribute to cardiovascular disease, said Duanping Liao, professor of public health sciences.

The body’s ability to properly regulate heartbeat so the heart can pump the appropriate amounts of blood into the circulation system relies on the stability of the heart’s electrical activity, called electrophysiology.

“Air pollution is associated with cardiopulmonary mortality and morbidity, and it is generally accepted that impaired heart electrophysiology is one of the underlying mechanisms,” said Fan He, master’s program graduate, Department of Public Health Sciences, Penn State College of Medicine. “This impairment is exhibited through fluctuations in the heart rate from beat to beat over an established period of time, known as heart rate variability. It is also exhibited through a longer period for the electric activity to return to the baseline, known as ventricular repolarization.

“The time course, how long it would take from exposure to cardiac response, has not been systematically investigated,” said He. “We conducted this study to investigate the relationship between particle matter and heart electrophysiology impairment, especially the time course.”

The researchers published their results in recent issues of the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology and in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Liao’s team of researchers studied 106 people from central Pennsylvania, mostly in the Harrisburg metropolitan area. Nonsmokers over the age of 45 without severe cardiac problems wore air-quality and heart-rate monitors for 24 hours. The devices recorded data in one-minute intervals.

Results indicate that heart electrophysiology was affected up to six hours after elevated PM2.5 exposure. These adverse effects may trigger the onset of acute cardiac events and over time may result in increased risk of chronic heart disease.

PM2.5 refers to particles up to 2.5 micrometers in size. Their primary sources are diesel engine and coal combustion outdoors; and oil, gas or wood combustion for cooking and heating indoors. PM2.5 levels are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Huge air pollution study under way in California: Associate Press

Huge air pollution study under way in California

by John Antczak

LOS ANGELES — Instrument-laden aircraft and a research ship equipped to sniff the atmosphere and ocean have joined land-based monitoring stations in a huge field study of air pollution and climate change in California.

The goal of the $20 million state and federal project is to understand the origin of pollutants and greenhouse gases, where they go and what becomes of them as an integrated air-quality and climate-change issue.

“Many chemicals that change climate are also air pollutants and the chemistry that makes them are the same, and the atmosphere doesn’t care which issue we are dealing with,” said A.R. Ravishankara, chemical sciences director at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Laboratory.

Called CalNex — shorthand for the nexus between air quality and climate — the study is using about $15 million worth of hardware and expertise from NOAA and $5 million from the state, according to the California Air Resources Board.

“The CalNex project is kind of a pollution researcher’s equivalent of a D-Day campaign by land, air and sea,” said CARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols.

Years in planning, the effort is employing a four-engine NOAA WP-3D Orion aircraft — best known as a “hurricane hunter” — three smaller twin-engine planes and the 274-foot research vessel Atlantis from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts.

Two land-based “super sites” for air monitoring have been set up at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and at Arvin in the southern end of the agricultural San Joaquin Valley.

“It’s a humongous amount of expertise and instrumentation that have been brought to a focus on California,” Ravishankara said in an interview in the Port of Los Angeles, where Atlantis was about to set out to sea for a run up the coast to work in San Francisco Bay and along Northern California.

Atlantis has been outfitted with an air-intake snout on a boom near the bow that feeds samples of the atmosphere to equipment-jammed laboratories in cargo-style containers. A float device with an aerator can be lowered over the side to capture minute particles released into the atmosphere as bubbles break, simulating what happens naturally all over the world every time the wind whips up a whitecap or a wave breaks.

The ship’s scientists have worked off Southern California and in the port for two weeks, sometimes with the WP-3D, said the chief scientist, Patricia A. Quinn of NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory.

Emissions from well over 300 ships have been measured, and in one focus study aided by the Danish shipping line Maersk, the WP-3D sampled emissions from an arriving ship while it was still well out at sea then again after it switched to low-sulfur fuel within 25 miles of the port, Quinn said.

Another coordinated study with the aircraft looked at how pollutants get mixed up with clouds and affect their lifetime and extent. Instruments looked up at the clouds from the surface while the aircraft flew below, through and above them.

“We’ve also been really fortunate in seeing several instances of outflow at nighttime as the pollutants come offshore, mix with the marine air and get transformed into something different and then pushed back on shore,” Quinn said.

The Air Resources Board believes the study’s data will help it evaluate emission trends and develop methods for evaluating the effectiveness of various strategies as it seeks to comply with federal clean air standards.

Nichols cited examples of pragmatic questions facing the agency.

“We need to know why some of the measures we’ve been taking to reduce ground-level ozone aren’t working as well in the San Joaquin Valley as well as they do in Los Angeles,” she said. “We’re looking for ways to actually verify that the forests that we’re trying to set aside to offset industrial greenhouse gas emissions really are capturing and storing carbon as promised.”