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Pollution

  • EPA releases annual pollution enforcement report

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released statistics in regards to its annual pollution enforcement on December 17, 2012. Agency officials said they eliminated 2.2 billion pounds of air, water and land pollution over the past year. Additionally, EPA administrators noted that $252 million in civil and criminal penalties were levied in 2012.

    Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said enforcement was crucial for officials, as administrators used new initiatives to help reduce pollution across the country.

    “We are using vigorous enforcement, as well as innovations in monitoring and transparency, to reduce pollution violations, protect and empower communities and focus on the environmental problems that matter most," Giles said.

    An innovative enforcement actions map was one of several tools that EPA officials provided to communities. The map was designed to increase public accountability to improve environmental compliance and includes information about violators throughout the nation.

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  • EPA examines regulations to control soot pollution

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently finalized air quality standards designed to protect Americans from soot pollution. Fine particles can cause serious health effects such as heart attacks and strokes, and the updated air quality standards are designed to help U.S. counties further protect citizens against these dangers.

    Agency officials said that they anticipate that 99 percent of U.S. counties could meet the revised health standard by 2020, without any additional action.

    "These standards are fulfilling the promise of the Clean Air Act," EPA representative Lisa P. Jackson said. "We will save lives and reduce the burden of illness in our communities."

    Fewer than 10 U.S. counties will need to perform actions to reduce fine particle pollution to meet the new standard, which is mandated by the Clean Air Act. Meanwhile, the remaining counties can follow existing federal guidelines to meet the new standard.

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  • Utah officials to develop new air pollution strategy

    The Utah Air Quality Board will create new air pollution guidelines after it deemed its previous standards insufficient. According to The Associated Press, board members said they intend to develop tougher regulations for Salt Lake City and much of the northern Utah urban sector.

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrators had set December 14, 2012, as the deadline for Utah leaders to establish up-to-date air pollution standards. However, Utah officials said they will miss the deadline, as these representatives will have more time to develop stricter policies for oil refineries and other industrial facilities.

    "It's better to have the right plan late than the wrong plan on time," Bruce Bird, director of the Utah Division of Air Quality, told the news source.

    Richard Mylott, an EPA spokesperson, noted that agency officials expect Utah leaders to work diligently to institute new air pollution regulations.

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  • Decreasing air pollution helps raise life expectancy in United States

    Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health recently discovered a significant connection between the declining air pollution rates in the United States and the rising average life expectancy among the country's citizens. According to News-Medical, the research team found that there have been substantial reductions in air pollution over the past 10 years, which have helped improve life expectancy figures in many areas. However, Andrew Correia, a researcher with the Harvard School of Public Health, cautions that optimum air quality levels have not yet been reached.

    "The U.S. population as a whole is exposed to much lower levels of air pollution than 30 years ago...it appears that further reductions in air pollution levels would continue to benefit public health," Correia told the news source.

    Correia and other researchers collected data between 2000 and 2007 for their evaluation. Group members calculated the mean life expectancy change during this time frame in 545 U.S. counties, and also considered potential variables such as the number of residents who smoked and the socioeconomic status of citizens in these regions.

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  • Alaska parents and teachers fight against air pollution

    Parents and teachers at Woodriver Elementary School in Alaska's Fairbanks North Star Borough are trying to eliminate air pollution from the area. According to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, the elementary school was severely hit by wintertime smoke, and local parents and educators have formed a committee to help combat air quality issues.

    A recently approved proposal prevents officials in the borough from enforcing air pollution regulations on home heating devices. However, parents and teachers are reaching out to state administrators to help relieve air pollution problems that have been shown to cause health problems.

    "As the parents, once we started looking into it more it was really concerning," local parent Carrie Dershin told the news source. "Seeing the levels and seeing how extremely poor it was for all the children was really concerning."

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  • EPA promotes public involvement in Texas air-pollution permits

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is encouraging Texas residents to become actively involved in helping the state control air pollution at power plants and other industrial facilities. According to the Houston Chronicle, the agency approved revised regulations for the Lone Star State's power plants and refineries on November 30, 2012.

    EPA officials noted that the public plays a role in the permit-approval process, and residents can offer input before a company receives a state-issued permit. Ron Curry, a local administrator with the EPA, said that public participation is essential for the agency's Clean Air Act to be successful. Amendments from this regulation are designed to help people avoid the dangers of air pollution, and under the recently accepted Texas legislation, agency representatives said they hope state residents will have easier access to documents and other information related to pending permits.

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  • First-ever no-burn alert issued for Southland

    For the first time ever, a no-burn alert order has been issued for Southland. A majority of the Los Angeles population is being asked to not light wood-burning fireplaces or open fire pits. The Los Angeles Times reports that the intent of the restriction is to reduce the levels of air pollution surrounding the city.

    The new program was adopted by the South Coast Air Quality Management District and applies to residents in West Hollywood, Burbank, the downtown area and many in the eastern portion of the San Fernando Valley. Violating the order comes with a $50 fine for first-time offenders.

    "Over 1 million homes actively use fireplaces to burn wood in Los Angeles,'' Sam Atwood, an agency spokesman at the South Coast Air Quality Management District, told the news source. "That results in four times the particulate pollution created by all of the power plants in the basin."

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  • Most common air pollutants in America

    Americans concerned about the presence of air pollution in their community can monitor the posted concentrations of the six most common pollutants in the United Stated. The Environmental Protection Agency tracks levels of ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and lead.

    The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards for these six pollutants because they can be harmful to people's health and the environment and even cause property damage. These pollutants are tracked in two ways: by air concentration levels based on actual measurements of pollutant concentration in outside air at selected monitoring sites and by emission estimates made by experienced engineers and scientists.

    The limits based on human health requirements are referred to as primary standards. Another set of regulated levels, called secondary standards, is intended to prevent environmental and property damage.

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  • Link between autism and air pollution strengthens

    New research shows that children with autism are two to three times more likely than other children to have been previously exposed to air pollution during infancy. Time Magazine reports that the study's findings were published in the Archives of General Psychiatry and show a link between early exposure to air pollution and autism spectrum disorders.

    "We're not saying that air pollution causes autism. We're saying it may be a risk factor for autism," Heather Volk, lead author on the new study and an assistant professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California, told the news source. "Autism is a complex disorder and it’s likely there are many factors contributing."

    The news source claims that researchers analyzed 500 children living in California. According to the study, children in the top 25 percent of pollution exposure were more likely to be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder than kids in the bottom 25 percent of the pollution level scale.

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  • Air pollution warning issued for southwestern New Hampshire

    Air pollution levels rose to unhealthy levels in southwestern New Hampshire during peak holiday travel times last week. As a result, officials from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services advised that sensitive individuals in the region take precautions and protect their health by limiting exposure, reports The Keene Sentinel.

    The elderly, young children and those afflicted with respiratory conditions like asthma or bronchitis should consider spending time indoors and limiting strenuous activity when air quality warnings are released. According to the news source, the department forecast high concentration levels of fine particulate matter due to temperature conditions and increased travel volumes.

    Air quality has been linked to numerous health effects, which is why a homeowner may find investing in a IQAir HealthPro Plus HEPA Air purifier an ideal way to reduce air pollutants in a house. The unit effectively removes common air pollutants - allowing individuals to breathe easier. A home air purifier can allow a person to feel comfortable and safe in his or her house.

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