An art installation of five geodesic domes by Michael Pinsky have been set up within London’s Somerset House, with each pod simulating the air quality at a different location from across the globe – namely London, New Delhi, Sao Paolo, Beijing and Tautra (Norway). The installation allows visitors to walk through each pod and experience the air quality at these locations with varying levels of ozone, particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide.
The “Pollution Pods” exhibit will be on display at Somerset House from 18th to 25th April.
These pods are being pumped with pollution and it’s enough to make your eyes water. pic.twitter.com/2oGO1qe5Er
— ITV London (@itvlondon) April 18, 2018
[Source: Twitter, 19th April 2018]
Waste Management NZ has opened the country’s first workshop dedicated to converting diesel trucks in to electric vehicles (EVs). The company plans to convert 20 of its national truck fleet by 2020. The first conversion is almost complete and the truck will be used to collect waste from Auckland Hospital.
Waste Management managing director Tom Nickles says he is delighted to open the workshop in what is a major step forward for the company and electric vehicles in New Zealand.
“Our investment in the EV workshop will create a knowledge centre for EV conversion in New Zealand and will help us move towards our long term goal of a fleet of fully electric vehicles.” Nickles acknowledged their conversion partner, EMOSS, based in the Netherlands who provided the kitsets and knowledge for the team in Auckland to start completing conversions locally.
Waste Management announced its move towards a fleet of electric vehicles in September 2016 as part of its sustainability commitment. Since then the company has launched the Southern Hemisphere’s first sideloader electric truck for residential wheelie bin waste collections, which has started work on Christchurch streets. Another sideloader electric truck will soon be in operation in Auckland. This is in addition to the electric box body truck which started work in Auckland in November 2016.
Waste Management has also added more than 20 electric cars within its light fleet during this time.
[Source: Transporttalk.co.nz, 29 March 2018]
Emission Impossible Ltd and Mote have collaborated to undertake a research project funded by New Zealand Transport Agency. The project aims to more accurately identify the emissions from on-road vehicles and fuel consumption in New Zealand rather than relying on data derived from overseas test drives. Twenty-eight types of cars and six different models of truck are being tested with an interest in the levels of pollutants in our atmosphere, particularly nitrogen dioxide, carbon dioxide and toxic particles and the effects they’re having on our emissions targets.
To conduct the test, an analyser is installed in the back of the vehicle and reads its exhaust emission every second of the hour long test drive. Analysis of the results will help with setting emission standards, transport planning and monitoring high traffic areas where emissions may be close to failing World Health Organisation standards.
See the full news story on TVNZ’s website Emissions testing to provide data on vehicles in NZ.
[Source: TVNZ, 25 March 2018]
Environmental lawyers ClientEarth today won a third case against the UK government over the country’s illegal and harmful levels of air pollution.
In a ruling handed down at the High Court in London this morning, Judge Mr Justice Garnham declared the government’s failure to require action from 45 local authorities with illegal levels of air pollution in their area unlawful.
He ordered ministers to require local authorities to investigate and identify measures to tackle illegal levels of pollution in 33 towns and cities as soon as possible – as 12 of the 45 are projected to have legal levels by the end of 2018.
This will be of great embarrassment to ministers, as it is the third time that they have lost an air pollution court battle against ClientEarth.
Speaking outside of the court, ClientEarth lawyer Anna Heslop said: “For the third time in the space of three years, the courts have declared that the government is failing in its obligation to clean up the air in our towns and cities.
“We are delighted that the court has today ordered the government to urgently take further action to fix the dangerous air pollution in our towns and cities.
“The problem was supposed to be cleaned up over eight years ago, and yet successive governments have failed to do enough.
“The people who live in areas of England and Wales covered by this judgment deserve to be able breathe clean air and the government must now do all it can to make that happen quickly.”
There was no ruling against the government for its decision to back-pedal on a previous commitment to legally ensure five cities implemented charging ‘Clean Air Zones’ – which charge the most polluting vehicles to enter the most polluted parts of a city.
However, Ministers issued Directions to those five cities in December 2017 requiring them to prepare a business case identifying measures to tackle pollution as soon as possible.
Lawyers for DEFRA told the court in January that they plan to issue further Directions to make sure those measures are implemented.
The Welsh government, which was also named as a defendant in the case, conceded at a High Court hearing in January that its failure to produce a plan was unlawful.
The Welsh government must now come up with a plan to meet legal limits of air pollution in Wales as soon as possible.
Today’s result means that Welsh Ministers will have to produce a draft plan by 30 April 2018 and a final plan by 31 July 2018.
We were introduced to Bikemunk, a handy website (not just for biking enthusiasts) which consolidates resources about various cycling statistics including related environmental and health statistics. Statistics from Bikemunk describe research conducted in 1995 which compared the exposure of cyclists, car drivers and pedestrians to traffic related pollutants. The 1995 study is consistent with the research we described in an earlier post showing that the health benefits of being outside (cycling or walking) outweigh the costs and risks of breathing in pollution.
In December 2017, the US EPA published an updated integrated science assessment for sulphur dioxide using research published to end August 2016. Key findings on causality are summarised below as compared with the 2008 assessment.
The assessment also noted that reproductive and developmental effects were inadequate to infer a causal relationship for a wide range of exposure durations.
It should be noted that the assessment did not consider transformation products such as sulfate (these being considered in the integrated science assessment for particulate matter, US EPA, 2009).
Full assessment here:
Table 1. Causal determinations: short-term exposure*
|Health effect category||2008 SOx ISA||2017 SOx ISA|
|Respiratory effects||Causal relationship||Causal relationship|
|Cardiovascular effects||Inadequate to infer a causal relationship||Inadequate to infer a causal relationship|
|Total mortality||Suggestive of, but not sufficient to infer a causal relationship||Suggestive of, but not sufficient to infer a causal relationship|
*Short-term exposure refers to time periods of minutes up to 1 month
Table 2. Causal determinations: long-term exposure**
|Health effect category||2008 SOx ISA||2017 SOx ISA|
|Respiratory effects||Inadequate to infer a causal relationship||Suggestive of, but not sufficient to infer a causal relationship|
|Cardiovascular effects||Not included||Inadequate to infer a causal relationship|
|Total mortality||Inadequate to infer a causal relationship||Inadequate to infer a causal relationship|
|Cancer||Inadequate to infer a causal relationship||Inadequate to infer a causal relationship|
*Long-term exposure refers to time periods of more than one month to year.
Research has shown that long-term exposure to pollution can lead to diminish lung function, particularly for older populations or those suffering from illnesses, while short-term exposure to pollution at higher levels has been found to cause deaths from ischaemic heart disease and exacerbate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Research funded by the British Heart Foundation undertook a study to assess the effects on respiratory and cardiovascular responses of walking down a busy street with high levels of pollution in London (Oxford Street) compared with walking in a traffic-free area with lower pollution levels (Hyde Park) in older adults. This randomised, crossover study included men and women aged 60 years or older with angiographically proven stable ischaemic heart disease or COPD who had been clinically stable for 6 months, and age-matched healthy volunteers.
Ambient concentrations of black carbon, NO2, PM10, PM2.5 and ultrafine particulates were higher in Oxford Street than in Hyde Park. Participants with COPD reported more cough, shortness of breath, and wheeze after walking down Oxford Street compared with Hyde Park. All participants, regardless of their disease status, found walking in Hyde Park led to an increase in lung function, but these beneficial responses, in contrast were diminished after walking along Oxford Street.
The results indicate that short-term exposure to traffic pollution prevents the beneficial cardiopulmonary effects of walking in people with COPD, ischaemic heart disease, and those free from chronic cardiopulmonary diseases. These negative health effects emphasize the need to develop policies to control ambient levels of air pollution along busy streets.
[Source: The Lancet]
Wood-burning stoves could be banned in some areas to combat air pollution under proposals by the London mayor, Sadiq Khan.
Under the proposals, wood-burning stoves would be banned in urban areas with poor air quality. In recent years, wood-burning stoves have increased in popularity with 1.5m sold across Britain (they are most popular in south-east England, where 16% of households have them, compared with 5% nationally).
Between a quarter and a third of all of London’s fine-particle pollution is estimated to come from domestic wood burning. Khan said: “Non-transport sources contribute half of the deadly emissions in London, so we need a hard-hitting plan of action to combat them similar to moves I am taking to reduce pollution from road vehicles.”
“With more than 400 schools located in areas exceeding legal pollution levels, and such significant health impacts on our most vulnerable communities, we cannot wait any longer, and I am calling on government to provide the capital with the necessary powers to effectively tackle harmful emissions from a variety of sources.”
The mayor has asked the environment department to amend the Clean Air Act to allow for the creation of zero-emission zones where the burning of solid fuel is not allowed from 2025 on-wards.
A Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) spokesperson told the Guardian: “We are determined to improve air quality and have put in place a £3bn plan to reduce roadside emissions.”
“Next year we will publish a comprehensive Clean Air Strategy which will address all sources of air pollution. We are also raising consumer awareness about the impact of burning wood on health and working with industry to help reduce harmful emissions.”
London’s emergency air quality alert was triggered last week for the seventh time in thirteen months. Polluted air from the continent combined with toxic air in London to create dangerous levels of pollution.
[Source: The Guardian]
New Zealand’s fuel specifications are changing as follows:
- Introducing a total oxygen limit, which potentially allows a wider range of fuel blends;
- Increasing New Zealand’s limit for methanol in petrol from one to three per cent volume;
- Raising the biodiesel blend limit in diesel from five to seven per cent; and
- Reducing the sulphur level allowed in petrol from 50 to 10 parts per million.
These amendments will take effect from 2 October 2017, except for the change to the maximum sulphur level, which will come into effect on 1 July 2018.
More information is available on the Ministry for Business, Innovation & Employment’s website on the 2016/17 updates to New Zealand’s engine fuel specifications.