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When people think about air pollution, they usually think about smog, acid rain, CFC's, and other forms of outdoor air pollution. But did you know that air pollution also can exist inside homes and other buildings? It can, and every year, the health of many people is affected by chemical substances present in the air within buildings.

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      27.07.2008 23:23
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      What will be, will be..

      So there it is, the worlds mean temperature have actually fallen since 2000. Admittedly the scientists who measured the numbers took the hottest year they could find to compare it with the recent cooler years up until 2007, which proves the point that you can find any up or down period you like if you pick your years and decades. The Earth also cooled between 1945 and 1975. It certainly feels like things are cooling down here as we return to those traditional wet and cloudy summers in Britain. And let's face it, what Brit wouldn't vote for global warming!! Britain's air is as clean as it has been this century, the smog's from the gushing putrid chimneys of the industrial revolution long since quiet, Fred Dibnah pretty much knocking them all down on his own.

      It may be an outrageous idea but what if the pollution tipping point has past us by and the C02 we are pumping out now is actually cooling the planet? I suspect there ARENT many grants available to support that particular thesis in the current evangelical green revolution. But it is just as much a theory like the man-made global warming theory is as far as I'm concerned. So ruffled where the scientist at this temperature drop they have declared a 13 year cooling period to fudge the issue. Like the oil price of late-now trading at a seven week low after $147 high-world temps are falling, ever cleaner technologies perhaps aiding that slowing. I'm not suggesting pollution is under control so temperatures will keep falling or anything but I think we have turned a corner as far as being aware of our responsibilities. There sis no Armageddon coming.

      One recent move to stem pollution was the shift to biofuels, a well meaning venture at the time to move towards crop based petroleum's that were squeezed from maize instead of dead Arabs. The idea was s to ease away from invading countries for oil and having to put nasty despots in control and to grow our own instead, Brazilian cars leading the way, 70% of all their new cars running on ethylene, the most popular crop based by-product fuel. But so lucrative was the crop to feed those greedy rich countries petrol use that world food stocks began to dwindle, the absurdity where we were starving the world to feed our cars, the third world producing corn and maize for SUVs in America, rather than feed its own people. Ironically these fuels are also more polluting than normal petrol and oil because the process is so intensive to get the fuels to the cars. One of the main reasons food prices are rising in our stores is because of this rush to biofuels as more and more maize goes up in smoke.

      "Greenwashing", of course, is the big buzz word of the new century, the guilty polluting companies and corporations proclaiming their innocence by making extra efforts to improve their public face with those erroneous publicity stunts and TV commercials. Jensen Buttons car with the map of the world on it had to be the silliest and most ironic one, whilst EDF energy rattles you the most with their incredibly hypocritical 'infomercials', they the first to bang up the gas prices in the summer as that oil price begins to collapse. They can hardly put up gas on the claim it's linked to those recent rocketing high crude prices when it's tumbling...Gas markets are now officially a bigger rip off than printer ink cartridges for me, a champion con that has been tough to topple.

      The reality is that most uncontrolled pollution is coming from the developing countries and any serious Kyoto deal would mean newer, cleaner, but fewer factories there and so production cuts, something the new economies will certainly not want to do. No American President, of course, will be cutting anything and most of the G8s secretive meetings are about exactly that, keeping what they have and making sure the little guys don't get a head start, the whining Bono and Saint Bob more than happy to remind us as that as they fly First Class to the get-togethers and enjoy the ten course meals with them. The bottom line is that cutting pollution is cutting output and cutting output is cutting profits and jobs. America, responsible for one quarter of the world pollution, are always cunning on these things, hoping to claim the natural emission drop coming from their current recession is their reduction for the decade. Britain are likely to deploy the same tactic, petrol sales already down by 20% in 2008. This means they have no future emissions targets.

      The green zealots that wanted to make a gallon of petrol a fiver have had their way now and the economy, as expected, has ground to a halt because of that lack of mobility in it. All these green types that want to save the world all seem to be smug middle-class people that are not hurt as much by fixed cost rises as we are. Now they have had to trade in their yoghurt makers and People Movers I think they realize we can't live any other way than we do and I think that's the last you will hear of going green in the future, which is a big relief. They moan about the wars in Iraq and nuclear and wind power plants going up near their villages but they never have any other solutions.

      Humans, by their very nature, want what each other have and we are all riding that train to oblivion, whether we like it or not. The whole idea that weather can cause the end of the world is absurd to them and so never going to sway them. If it getting warmer in the U.K then why are we seeing those huge gas price rises if we are using less because of the temperature rises?? I think the whole green debate has been pumped by western governments to distract from the Middle East oil grab America and Britain are carrying out right now, they saying the wars are not about oil because it's plentiful and not scarce, so how can the war be for oil because there's so much out there, eventually burnt so to cause global warming we need to stop? But we know that's not the case now with only 0.6% oil capacity on the planet, economies falling apart as demand continues and the insurgents smash the pipes around the world to spike the price. Why on earth would oil companies build the refineries we seriously need if the price is this high?

      As we now know the British government wants to help cut pollution by recycling household trash. But it expensive and costing councils millions, they not benefiting from saving the planet in any way. Most of the plastic bottle collections in your allotted trays are now for show, they going straight to land fill. Only the tin and glass is worth anything and so we, the council tax payer, have to pay the proposed bin tax to hide this charade. So problematic has this landfill European issue become that the councils facing huge fines if they don't boost their recycling quotas have decided to build incinerators to get rid of the stuff they cant bury, producing more pollution. 'Veola Incinerators' are the government's preferred contractor and twenty have been ordered already. But the councils haven't gone for small ones but the biggest models, no choice but to chuck some recycling material into the flames to reduce those quotas, but you lot still being taxed on your bins to encourage recycling and, rather paradoxically, to help pay for the incinerators! Only can New Labor could come up with that one!

      New Labor also look set to override their own and the European Union targets on air pollution for Heathrow's proposed third runway, which is seriously needed on safety grounds alone. Yes it will attract more bustle to southwest London but you have to do that to remain the top city in the world and attract critical business. And we are also very close to two planes hitting each other in mid-air over the capital.
      The current two runways already overshoot pollution targets so a third runway would obviously increase those amounts radically, so New Labor has decided to over-ride any debate and build it. In their prepared report that puts the case for allowing the build it claims it won't be that polluting because of a mystery plane that will bring down future emissions. The trouble is the super clean 480 seat jetliner doesn't exist and all the major airlines have never heard of plans to build one, and so confused how they will meet these targets. Fortunately the mythical plane does have just enough seats for all the Labor MPs who will lose their seats next year in the general election to be shipped out and dumped over the Atlantic! In fact 13 past Labor MPs and 5 current ones have been employed by the Spanish owned British Airports Authority to push though the third runway build, using all manner of tricks, like that one...One of the cancers of modern politics is the same politicians who push though greedy policies that award billions of pounds to the private sector from the public purse are then rewarded with high flying jobs with those companies. All the people who pushed for war in Iraq have been or will be nicely rewarded with jobs in the arms companies in the near future.
      I prefer to be told about air pollution by the pretty weather girls on About Anglia. We have an extra slot on the weather just to tell us what the weather will do today, pollution wise, a rating system from 1-5 on the days predicted smog. When it's very hot and clear it's five. When it's wet and cloudy it's rated one! I think that's what the post office call guaranteed overtime. She's a lovely girl though and Brita Purifiers get their moneys worth for the commercial.

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        20.04.2006 11:15
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        An insight into the problem that is Air Pollution.

        As my last piece on DooYoo received such good comments I thought I’d try to be educational again, this time on the issue of air pollution! When I was younger I always thought air pollution was caused by cars alone but there’s actually several sources of it and it’s effecting the planet in quite a severe way that we all need to take some action. Pollution is the introduction by man to the environment a collection of substances liable to cause hazard to human health, harm to resources and ecological systems and interference with the legitimate use of the environment.

        Air pollution in particular is concerned with damaging the quality of the air in our atmosphere. Air pollution is often thought to be more focused or of a higher density within urban areas due to their being a higher density of people and the consequences of having a larger population; namely more traffic and businesses. However this is often just a generalisation as only certain pollutants are higher in cities. Megacities have the worst cases of air pollution for example, Mexico City, Sao Paulo and Calcutta, it’s not restricted to the Western, developed world either.

        Air pollution comes from a number of sources, most of which are anthropogenic meaning they come from human intervention. Anthropogenic emissions include sulphur emissions, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and several others. The two main sources are thought to be from combustion processes (which during the actual process emit high amounts of CO2 and carbon compounds) and photochemical pollution as the two main contributors to air pollution.

        Sulphur Dioxide – Previously emitted from decaying vegetation and volcanoes, now outweighed by human emissions, principally fossil fuel combustion e.g. oil, coal, vehicle usage, power station coal. Emissions are not uniformly spread out across country, e.g. US clusters of high emissions in NE around Ohio, in UK around cities – but in UK general decrease since 1980 move to natural gas.

        Nitrogen Oxide – This is present in high amounts in coal, petrol and diesel and therefore the highest amounts come from road transport emissions (more than 50%), following is coal combustion – there are large variations with population density.

        Ozone – At low levels near the ground it is a toxic gas, produced in a chemical reaction of car exhaust emissions under strong sunlight. A secondary effect of this is that when strong sunlight reacts with vehicle exhaust fumes under calm and dry weather photochemical smog is often produced. This is a particular problem in LA as pollution trapped in as warm air pushing down, mountains on one side cool air over ocean on other so not where for it to go, sits in a valley so smog sinks, no frequent winds to disperse it the exhaust fumes of traffic (nitrogen oxide and volatile hydrocarbons). Under the strong sunlight also present there a photochemical process occurs which produces high levels of ozone – the result is that a haze hangs over the area (with a nasty smell).

        Lead – Major source in urban areas from leaded petrol.

        Carbon Monoxide – This comes from industry, agriculture (often naturally) and transport.

        Carbon Dioxide – Major factor in vehicle exhausts.

        Therefore it can be deduced that the majority of air pollution is a result of motor vehicle emissions, with over 45 million cars produced annually it’s a problem that’s not going to disappear anytime soon either. Vehicle emissions are definitely of major environmental impact with over 95% of London CO2 emissions coming from here. Cars are also the worst vehicle as emit huge amount of carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons and lead particles which are particularly dangerous to children’s nervous systems, which leads onto the effects of air pollution.


        With air pollution existing on such a wide scale and in such large densities it is somewhat unfortunate to say the least that all the effects of it are negative and the majority, harmful.

        Urban Air – In recent times, with increasing transport and industry there has naturally been an increase in air pollution, which has had a detrimental effect to the quality of urban air. There has been an increase in smogs (for example, London 1952 – low level emersion, 10 day period very bad, W End theatres closed down, transport stopped, third of children in city had respiratory problems, 12,000 died) due to increased coal burning and therefore sulphur dioxide. 24,000 people every year are thought to die in the UK as a result of poor urban air.

        Temperature – Pollutants often intensify the heat islands found in many urban areas, albedo is higher in urban areas however so energy should bounce off, instead it bounces around so there is a higher chance of it being absorbed. Pollutants keep in the heat, almost trapping it, which is why rural areas are often found to be slightly cooler. There is also often found to be a 10-20% reduction in solar radiation in urban areas (16% in London) too.

        Global Warming – Many of the main air pollutants (namely carbon dioxide and nitrous oxides) contribute to the greenhouse effect by creating a blanket around the earth which traps in outgoing radiation from the earth, therefore causing the earth’s environment to heat up considerably.

        Plants/Animals – The London smogs caused many deaths among cattle too, many suffered so badly they had to be slaughtered. In North America damage to vegetation has sparked many concerns over air pollution, sulphur dioxide seemed to have a direct link with vegetation dying in the 1930s. Also in LA, where photochemical smog is a big problem there’s been high damage found on leafy vegetables, especially lettuces – due to ozone. Lichen diversity is also rapidly disappearing, 14 species of lichen found in NE London, Epping Forest have become extinct.

        Health – The negative effects of air pollution have been recognised as a contributor to many health problems over the years. The earliest signs of this were noticed in the 17th and 18th centuries where many people suffered from illnesses when living near coal smoke, metal mining and smelting regions. The 1952 Great Smog of London caused in excess of 12000 deaths but as of yet there is no proven link that low levels of air pollution associated with urban areas actually causes death (too many variables to ascertain and too many confounding ones too – age, biological effect). Many health problems occur such as eyes becoming more prone to conjunctival diseases, changes to hair colour, respiratory system danger due to water soluble gases such as sulphur dioxide dissolving the protective mucus membranes as well as small particles e.g. diesel engine emissions, being able to enter the blood stream. Health problems associated with certain pollutants include carbon monoxide emissions from motor vehicles binds with haemoglobin and lowers the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood, resulting in increased angina, asthma and headaches. Secondly ozone has also been proven to have an effect on respiratory problems such as causing coughs, throat dryness, irritation of the eyes and a link with asthma. Lastly lead has been found to have links with increased blood pressure, heart attacks, kidney failure and brain damage – children are most at risk and can lead to behavioural problems. However it’s not always an urban problem, asthma rates have been found to be highest in S Glamorgan, Wales.

        Building Materials – Change in colour of many surfaces due to pollutants and the exposure time, diesel particles are very black and stick to surfaces effectively which can be seen throughout the centre of London. Limestone particularly damaged by acid rain.

        Acid Rain – Became a key environmental issue in the 1980s, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides are the main causes of acid rain due to them rising in the atmosphere and reacting with water, oxygen and other chemicals to form various acidic compounds – pH of as low as 3.0. Damages vegetations (acidification of soil, acid mists directly attack leaves, needle yellowing in Germany), effects surface water (increases acidity of water, destruction of aquatic life, harmful to drinking water?), and buildings.

        Summary

        Air pollution is of growing concern in the 21st century and recent suggestions have moved towards the idea of reducing the actual sources of it. Attempts to do this have included the Clean Air Act of 1956 by Robert Maxwell (introduced smoke control areas and controlled chimney heights), the 1974 Control of Pollution Act (allowed for regulation of composition of motor fuels and limited amount of sulphur to be used) and the 1991 Road Vehicle Regulation (set standards for emissions of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons to be tested in the MOT). The latest development in 2000 was The National Air Quality Strategy for the whole of the UK, which highlighted new air quality objectives for local councils. In previous years all legislation in the UK was targeted at industry and domestic pollution, more recent acts now see cars as the main problem.

        Sulphur Dioxide – Burn less fuel by improving building insulation, draught excluders, etc. Fuel substitution so use lower sulphur fuels and import low sulphur coal but substitutes are running out. Fuel cleaning involves grinding coal to a powder and adding air before combustion so there is less wastage and less power needed to burn it, flue gas desulphurisation where a chemical plant is plant to remove the sulphur from combustion and add limestone slurry.

        Nitrogen Oxide – Burn less fuel so increase public transport and use smaller engines, or use a lower nitrogen fuel. Temperature reductions within the combustion zone would result in less nitrogen oxides as would increasing the fuel to air ratio (fuel rich so less oxides).

        Vehicle Exhausts – Catalytic converters are the main way of reducing harmful emissions, they remove many nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and unburnt hydrocarbons BUT increase carbon dioxide emissions by about 10% - 1993 made compulsory on all new cars in UK. Public transport more widely available and cheaper, Park & Ride schemes e.g. Chester.

        Hope this brief insight has been useful to some of you and possibly convinced you to walk a little more often rather than relying on cars!

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