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Archive for December, 2016

AP-42 Emission Factors for VOCs from Flares Updated

The United States Environment Protection Agency (US EPA) has updated Sections 5.1, 8.13, and 13.5 of AP-42 to incorporate the following new and revised emissions factors.

  • Flares – VOC, CO (revised)
  • Sulphur Recovery Units: NOx, CO, THC
  • Catalytic Reforming Units: THC
  • Hydrogen Plants: NOx
  • Fluid Catalytic Cracking Units: HCN

The revisions and supporting documentation can be accessed here.

This update follows a settlement agreement reached between the EPA and plaintiffs in Air Alliance Houston et al. v EPA Case No. 15-1210 (D.C. Cir.).

[Source: US EPA]

Scale of Europe’s air pollution problem demands more action

In December, 1952, London was gripped by a “great smog” that wreaked havoc on the city for days and resulted in several thousand deaths. The severity of the event provided a wake-up call to legislators and prompted a series of regulatory changes to address the problem of air pollution in UK cities, including the landmark Clean Air Act of 1956. 60 years on, however, the health effects of air pollution are still unacceptably high. In 2013 alone, exposure to one type of air pollution—particulate matter less than 2·5 μm in diameter (PM2.5)—was estimated to be responsible for almost 40 000 premature deaths in the UK. Overall, data presented in the Nov 23, 2016, European Environmental Agency (EEA) report on air quality in Europe indicates that air pollution is responsible for an estimated 467 000 premature deaths each year across 41 European countries.

Most premature deaths from air pollution are caused by cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and respiratory disease, but there is growing evidence that air pollution might have much broader effects, including on preterm birth, fertility, diabetes, childhood neurological development, and adult neurological conditions. The EEA report outlines that despite notable improvements in some sectors, air pollution remains the single largest environmental health risk in Europe. Key European Union (EU) and WHO recommended exposure limits are being exceeded in several urban centres across Europe and will continue to do so unless current trends are drastically improved on.

So what must be done? Air pollution is a problem that crosses disciplines and borders, and will necessarily require multidisciplinary solutions that engage urban planning, public health, law, and cultural change. On Nov 23, 2016, the EU had an opportunity to drive such change when Members of the European Parliament voted on updated National Emission Ceilings. The newly agreed targets will likely cut premature deaths from air pollution by up to 50% by 2030—an improvement, yes, but considering how many lives will continue to be prematurely lost each year, it is clear that these aims do not go nearly as far as they should.

[Source: The Lancet, 3 December 2016]

Five west African countries ban ‘dirty diesel’ from Europe

In the past week, five west African countries – Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Ivory Coast – announced plans to end the practice of European oil companies and traders exporting “African quality” diesel. “African quality” fuel is highly polluting fuel that contain sulphur levels sometimes hundreds of times higher than European levels that could never be sold in Europe. It’s been termed “dirty fuel” because the diesel imported from Europe contain levels of sulphur as high as 3,000 parts per million (ppm) when the European maximum has been 10 ppm since 2009 (the same as here in New Zealand). Fuels with high-sulphur content are contributors to respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and asthma.

A report published by Swiss NGO Public Eye in September accused oil companies for exporting fuels to west Africa, “allowing traders and companies to exploit weak standards to export cheap, dirty fuels in a process that Public Eye said was maximising profits at the expense of African’s health.”

As part of an initiative by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the west African nations have agreed to ban imports of high-sulphur diesel fuels with permitted levels of sulphur in imported diesel will fall from 3,000 ppm in some of the countries to 50 ppm. The head of UN Environment, Erik Solheim said: “West Africa is sending a strong message that is it no longer accepting dirty fuels from Europe. Their decision to set strict new standards for cleaner, safer fuels and advanced vehicle emission standards shows they are placing the health of their people first.”

The five countries have also agreed to upgrade their national refineries to bring locally produced diesel up to the same quality by 2020.

Read the full article here, and the opinion piece by Lola O about corporate responsibility “Africa is being choked. But corporations leave their grime on us all

[Source: The Guardian, 6 December 2016]