Posts tagged Environmental Protection Agency

Greenhouse gases – a public health threat

This just in from the EPA:

EPA Finds Greenhouse Gases Pose Threat to Public Health, Welfare

 

Proposed Finding Comes in Response to 2007 Supreme Court Ruling

 

 

 

(Washington, D.C. – April 17, 2009)  After a thorough scientific review ordered in 2007 by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a proposed finding Friday that greenhouse gases contribute to air pollution that may endanger public health or welfare.

 

The proposed finding, which now moves to a public comment period, identified six greenhouse gases that pose a potential threat.

 

“This finding confirms that greenhouse gas pollution is a serious problem now and for future generations.  Fortunately, it follows President Obama’s call for a low carbon economy and strong leadership in Congress on clean energy and climate legislation,” said Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “This pollution problem has a solution – one that will create millions of green jobs and end our country’s dependence on foreign oil.”

 

As the proposed endangerment finding states, “In both magnitude and probability, climate change is an enormous problem.  The greenhouse gases that are responsible for it endanger public health and welfare within the meaning of the Clean Air Act.”

 

EPA’s proposed endangerment finding is based on rigorous, peer-reviewed scientific analysis of six gases – carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride – that have been the subject of intensive analysis by scientists around the world. The science clearly shows that concentrations of these gases are at unprecedented levels as a result of human emissions, and these high levels are very likely the cause of the increase in average temperatures and other changes in our climate.

 

The scientific analysis also confirms that climate change impacts human health in several ways. Findings from a recent EPA study titled “Assessment of the Impacts of Global Change on Regional U.S. Air Quality: A Synthesis of Climate Change Impacts on Ground-Level Ozone,” for example, suggest that climate change may lead to higher concentrations of ground-level ozone, a harmful pollutant. Additional impacts of climate change include, but are not limited to:

 

·         increased drought;

·         more heavy downpours and flooding;

·         more frequent and intense heat waves and wildfires;

·         greater sea level rise;

·         more intense storms; and

·         harm to water resources, agriculture, wildlife and ecosystems.

 

In proposing the finding, Administrator Jackson also took into account the disproportionate impact climate change has on the health of certain segments of the population, such as the poor, the very young, the elderly, those already in poor health, the disabled, those living alone and/or indigenous populations dependent on one or a few resources.

 

In addition to threatening human health, the analysis finds that climate change also has serious national security implications. Consistent with this proposed finding, in 2007, 11 retired U.S. generals and admirals signed a report from the Center for a New American Security stating that climate change “presents significant national security challenges for the United States.” Escalating violence in destabilized regions can be incited and fomented by an increasing scarcity of resources – including water. This lack of resources, driven by climate change patterns, then drives massive migration to more stabilized regions of the world.

  

The proposed endangerment finding now enters the public comment period, which is the next step in the deliberative process EPA must undertake before issuing final findings. Today’s proposed finding does not include any proposed regulations. Before taking any steps to reduce greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, EPA would conduct an appropriate process and consider stakeholder input.  Notwithstanding this required regulatory process, both President Obama and Administrator Jackson have repeatedly indicated their preference for comprehensive legislation to address this issue and create the framework for a clean energy economy.

 

More information:  http://epa.gov/climatechange/endangerment.html

 

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Cedar Rapids school not on EPA’s list for outdoor air pollution monitoring

   Johnson Elementary in Cedar Rapids was not included in a list the Environmental Protection Agency released today of schools that will be monitored for outdoor air pollution.

   The EPA, state and local agencies will work together to monitor air toxics around 62 schools in 22 states that are located near large industrial facilities or in urban areas. EPA identified the schools based on information – from a newspaper analysis – that raised questions about air quality.

   Roland-Story High School in Story City, north of Ames, was the only Iowa school included on the EPA monitoring list.

   Johnson Elementary ranked among schools nationwide with the worst outdoor air quality, according to a report in December by USA Today.

   Linn County Public Health officials disputed the report, and held a meeting in February at Johnson Elementary, 355 18th St. SE.

    Jim Hodina, supervisor of the air quality division at Linn County Public Health, discussed air quality issues with about 15 parents at the school.

 The USA Today report said the main chemical of concern was manganese, emitted from Cedarapids Inc. 909 17th St. NE.  The model used by USA Today suggested all of the manganese generated at the plant was released into the air.  Cedarapids Inc. generates dust in its plant from cutting metal, Hodina said, but not all of the dust leaves the building.

    For more information about Linn County Public Health’s response to the air quality report, go to: http://www.linncleanair.org

    Here is the EPA press release:

 (Washington, D.C. – March 31, 2009) In an unprecedented effort to help protect children from toxic air pollution around schools, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced a list of schools that will undergo outdoor air monitoring.

“As a mother, I understand that concerned parents deserve this information as quickly as we can gather and analyze it,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “EPA, state, and local officials are mobilizing to determine where elevated levels of toxics pose a threat, so that we can take swift action to protect our children at their schools.”

EPA, state and local agencies will work together to monitor air toxics around 62 schools in 22 states that are located near large industrial facilities or in urban areas. EPA identified these schools for monitoring based on information that raised questions about air quality. That information included the best data available to EPA scientists about air pollution in the vicinity of schools, results of a computer modeling analysis, results from a recent newspaper analysis, and information from state and local air agencies.

Depending on the availability of staff and equipment, monitoring at some schools on the list will begin almost immediately; other schools will begin monitoring over the next 60 to 90 days. State and local air agencies will install and operate the monitors, while EPA will purchase the monitors and pay for laboratory analysis.

State and local agencies will take periodic samples of the air around the schools for a 60-day period. EPA will analyze the results of the monitoring and share the information with the schools and the public. EPA will use the information gathered in this initiative to determine how best to move forward, which could require additional monitoring or enforcement action where appropriate.

EPA and states will work with school communities to ensure they understand the monitoring results. In addition to monitoring the outdoor air quality, EPA also will help interested schools improve the quality of their indoor air.

To learn more about this program and to view the list of schools that are part of the monitoring initiative: http://www.epa.gov/schoolair

 

 

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Climate change Monday

CLIMATE  CHANGE IN  IOWA TOPIC OF NOV. 3  FORUM:

Kirkwood, Area Partners Host “Connections” Discussion with Dr. Jerald Schnoor

 

“The global climate is changing. We know that humans are responsible for a large portion of that change, which will have implications for Iowa.”

 

That is the central theme of a public forum set for Kirkwood Community College on Monday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. Kirkwood and several other colleges and community groups will host a “Connections” program in Ballantyne Auditorium on the main Kirkwood campus.

 

The free forum will feature Dr. Jerald Schnoor of The University of Iowa, speaking on “Mitigating and Responding to Climate Change in Iowa.”  Schnoor is the Allen S. Henry Chair and professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and co-director of the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research.

 

Discussion will include what we know and how we can mitigate global warming while creating economic opportunities for the future.  Policy options from the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council and from the Midwest Governor’s Accord will be discussed.

       

In an academic career spanning nearly three decades, Schnoor has studied many aspects of environmental science, especially water quality, environmental protection and public policy. He has served in advisory and official capacities with the Environmental Protection Agency, National Research Council and others. Schnoor has won numerous awards, including distinguished lecturer honors at Yale, Iowa State and Massachusetts universities. In 1996 he received the Distinguished Fellows Award from the Iowa Academy of Science, the group’s highest honor.

 

The Connections Natural History Speaker Series is a cooperative project since 1993, bringing noted science professionals to the Cedar Rapids metro area for free, public discussions in the natural sciences. All fees for the program are provided by grants and private donations. Participating partners include the Linn County Conservation Department, Cedar Rapids Washington High School, Coe College, Cornell College, Mt. Mercy College, Linn County Environmental Council, Cedar Valley Rocks and Minerals Society and other organizations, as well as Kirkwood.

 

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