Friday, December 30, 2011

Mercury as a neurotoxin

When the EPA passed the Clear Air Act in 1990, it never included limits on mercury, a neurotoxin to developing children and fetuses, but their recent ruling does.

What does this ruling mean to you? CNN's William Hudson says:
Despite federal limits on emissions of mercury from other sources, such as waste incinerators, there have been no limits on coal-fired power plants, which the EPA says constitute the single largest source of mercury emissions.
"As a mom, I'm especially excited to know that millions of mothers and babies will now be protected from mercury poisoning," said Mary Anne Hitt, director of Beyond Coal Campaign, a clean energy advocacy group.
"We all teach our kids the simple rule that if you make a mess you should clean it up - and now polluters will have to follow that same rule," she wrote in an e-mail conversation.
"Mothers around the country who have been worried about mercury pollution causing learning disabilities and other problems for their kids will be able to sleep easier tonight."
Health experts have known for a long time that mercury causes damage to developing fetuses, with long-term effects on the child.
Methylmercury, found in fish and shellfish, can harm a child's thinking, language, fine motor skills, memory, attention, and visual spatial skills when exposed in the womb.
One study estimates that for each part per million of mercury found in a mother's hair -- a common way of testing for mercury exposure -- her child loses approximately 0.18 IQ points.
Outbreaks of methylmercury poisoning have resulted in some children being born with severe disabilities, even when their mothers did not show signs of nervous system damage. But adults are at risk for mercury poisoning too; symptoms can include impairment of vision, speech, hearing and walking.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The science of air pollution

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.

They recommend a wonderful activity for older students, which might make a terrific science fair project here. But young children can begin thinking about clean air with some prompts such as the one in the following scenario:
     Many communities are trying to do their part to reduce the level of black carbon pollution in the air. It is difficult for a small city or town to restrict driving or to impose pollution regulations on trucks and automobiles. However, another source of soot is from the burning ofwood in fireplaces and charcoal briquets in barbeques.
     Some communities have imposed a ban or sharp restriction on the recreational use of wood-burning fireplaces and barbeques. It is unclear whether these new regulations will be enforceable, nor how effective the new ordinances will be in reducing emissions. However, one could easily argue that these recreational activities are non-essential, and that anything which will help reduce soot production is worth trying.
Ask the children to choose a side and debate the reasons soot should or should not be restricted.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Bad air out there

It seems wherever you look in the news, they are reporting bad air out there.

Official Says Air Quality In Beijing Is at 'Crisis' Level Wall Street Journal Beijing is facing its third air-pollution crisis of recent years and needs to crank up its efforts to cut emissions, a city environmental official said, acknowledging a big metaphorical cloud hanging over the city. Beijing faced air-quality crises in ...

Louisiana enforcement of federal air pollution laws is inadequate, petitioners say By Mark Schleifstein, The Times-Picayune Two environmental groups on Wednesday petitioned the federal Environmental Protection Agency to force the state to do a better job enforcing federal air pollution laws. The move follows an EPA inspector ...

Death-by-Air in Beijing Exposes Pollution's Untold Heart Risk BusinessWeek Outdoor air pollution kills 1.3 million people globally each year, the World Health Organization estimates. A growing body of evidence shows dirty air not only triggers asthma and other respiratory conditions, over time it may the damage heart and ...

Air Quality goes from Red to Yellow after Burn Ban KTVN Well first, the quality of our air affects all of us. According to the Washoe County Health District, the pollution from smoke can actually cause health problems in healthy people. Kevin Dick, director ofAir Quality Management for the Washoe County ...

Higher Levels of Air Pollution Expected Wednesday Berkeley can expect a jump in the level of air pollution Wednesday and a fifth Spare the Air Day for the Bay Area. Burning wood indoors or outdoors will be illegal all day. By Emily Henry A Spare the Air alert has been issued for Wednesday, Dec. ...

State warns of air pollution in Keene area due to weather Nashua Telegraph CONCORD – The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services is expecting air pollutionconcentrations to reach unhealthy levels in valleys in southwestern New Hampshire, especially in Keene, on Thursday. DES officials are calling for an Air ...

Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control District investigates its top ... Monterey County  Weekly By Sara Rubin It's a good thing for air quality on the Monterey Peninsula that there's not enough sun or water to easily grow grass; running a lawnmower for an hour emits as much air pollution as a new car driving 300 miles. ...

What can you do about it? Take local action by purifying the air you breathe. Our systems are available for your home, work, school, hospital, day care center, and elder-care center. Clean all 3,000 gallons you take in today. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Air Pollution

We are concerned with your health and purifying the air you breathe for a healthy body, able to enjoy all the things you do. Recent federal government budget cuts, however, are less concerned with these factors.

Some national examples, according to John Miller of the Associated Press include:

In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican presidential candidate, signed a budget that cut funding for the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality more than 30 percent, from $833 million to $565 million. That included reducing air quality inspections and assessments.
Oregon, for example, reduced air pollution monitoring, as the Department of Environmental Quality faces budget cuts through 2013.
The state Department of Environmental Protection in Pennsylvania has seen general fund support slip from $217 million in 2009 to $140 million, levels last seen in 1994.

Further, the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Air Act may be a good start, but is not enough to protect Americans from air pollution. Says Amy Mail of the National Resources Defense Council, the "EPA’s proposed emission reductions for toxic air pollutants are based on the maximum achievable level of control in 1999, not on today’s technologies." This kind of outdated measurement may result in procedures that are more like bailing water out of a leaking boat than plugging the hole.

There is still much to be done by factories, by the government, by legislation, but in the mean time, purify the air you breathe with us. It's one thing you can control in an unsure world.