Tag Archives: air quality

Borrow an air quality monitor from the Pittsburgh Public Library

Speck air quality monitorNPR reports on a groundbreaking Pittsburgh library innovation: the Carnegie Mellon Library is lending out the Speck air quality monitor (cost $200) to help residents stay healthy.

The small, WiFi-connected device detects and calculates the level of fine particulate matter, particles that are invisible to the naked eye and just a tiny fraction of the width of a human hair. The lower the count, the better the air — and the fewer risks to health.

A high presence of particulate matter can exacerbate problems like asthma, lung disease and allergies. But the loanable air monitor is helping residents find and fix the source of the problem.

Librarians help people with job searches, research and were the country’s most outspoken defenders of residents’ civil rights and privacy in post 9/11 America.

In a ceremony tonight, the American Civil Liberties Union will present the Roger Baldwin Medal of Liberty awards to four Connecticut librarians and the president of a New York Internet Service Provider (ISP) who stood up against the Patriot Act and refused to violate the privacy of their patrons and clients.

This is one more reason to appreciate our public libraries and the fine men and women who staff them. Thank you guys!

If your library doesn’t have a Speck to lend out, make a request that they get one.

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EPA Administrator and Mayor Baraka Launch Newark’s New Community Air Pollution Project Today

Newark Ironbound Air PollutantsOn Friday, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy will join community members at Newark, New Jersey’s Ironbound Neighborhood Family Success Center (East) to launch a new community air monitor, a first of its kind citizen science project. Administrator McCarthy will discuss the agency’s work on air quality and how citizen science plays an important role in scientific analysis.

Fri 13 March 2015 @ 10:15 am
Ironbound Community Corporation (ICC)
Family Success Center – East
29 Cortland Street
Newark, NJ 07105

In 2010, A collaboration between Drew University and the ICC used GIS mapping technology to prove the need for air quality control in Newark. With support from an EPA CARE grant, student Zoe Crum mapped data the ICC helped gather to show, “industrial chemical emissions, Brownfield sites, and Superfund sites in conjunction with demographic analyses for the Ironbound.”

Twenty-five percent of Newark children suffer from asthma, three times the state average, and asthma accounts for the leading cause of absenteeism for Newark’s school age children. Accurate and timely information on air pollution is critical to protecting public health. With data in hand, residents have a better chance of taking effective action to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy.

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Cap & Trade – an emissions reduction strategy

The Environmental Defense Fund wrote the cap-and-trade approach to sulfur emissions into the 1990 Clean Air Act. A similar program has become law in California to limit carbon emissions, where implementation will begin in 2013. The cap part of the program is an incrementally rising cap on the legally allowable limits for carbon emissions factories produce. The trade portion allows companies that reduce their emissions to a lower level than the legal mandate to use the difference as a credit that a company exceeding the legal limit can buy to bring itself into the compliant range of emissions output.

The EDF explains the history of cap-and-trade, which started in 1990

Traditional, top-down government regulation would have simply directed every plant owner to cut pollution by a specific amount in a specific way. But this method, critics said, would cost too much, impede innovation and ignore the knowledge and initiative of local plant operators.

The way forward, EDF experts argued, was to harness the power of the marketplace. Our cap-and-trade approach, written into the 1990 Clean Air Act, required that overall sulfur emissions be cut in half, but let each company decide how to do it. And power plants that cut their pollution more than required could sell those extra allowances. A new commodities market was born.

Under this market-based plan, sulfur emissions have gone down faster than predicted and at one-fourth of the projected cost. By 2000, scientists were documenting decreased sulfates in Adirondack lakes, improved visibility in national parks and widespread benefits to human health. The Economist called it “the greatest green success story of the past decade.”

EDF explains that the California cap-and-trade market for greenhouse gases addresses is modeled after their plan.

In October 2011, the California Air Resources Board voted to create a cap-and-trade market for greenhouse gases, as required by AB32, the state’s landmark bipartisan 2006 climate bill, which EDF cosponsored and defended in court.

AB32 aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions in California, the world’s eighth largest economy, to 1990 levels by 2020, while generating one-third of its electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind.

The cap-and-trade market alone, which begins operating in 2013, will slash the state’s warming emissions by an amount equivalent to taking some 3.6 million cars off the road.

The LA Times reports

Environmental justice groups oppose aspects of the program, arguing that cap-and-trade’s market allows refineries, power plants and other large-scale facilities to continue polluting poor neighborhoods as long as they purchase credits or offsets ..

and gives details about how the carbon cap-and-trade program will work in California

Emissions caps were established by collecting three years of emissions data from the state’s largest industries. Those businesses were grouped into sectors and assigned an average emissions benchmark. Businesses are allowed to emit up to 90% of that amount in the first year. Companies that operate efficiently under the cap may sell their excess carbon allowance on the market; companies whose emissions are above the benchmark must either reduce their carbon output or purchase credits or offsets.

Offsets are a way of turning carbon “savings” into tradable equities. For instance, a forestry company may change its practices so that its forests store more carbon. That increase in carbon storage can be turned into a marketable credit. An independent entity would verify that the carbon savings are real. That additional storage must be maintained for at least 100 years. No carbon offsets may be purchased from non-U.S. sources.