The Environics, Inc. Post

Air Quality and the Paris Agreement

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Fri, Sep 09, 2016 @ 10:00 AM

800px-Beijing_smog_comparison_August_2005-resized-600.png

As we end the summer, this year is expected to be the hottest on record for the second year in a row. Climate change is on the forefront of President Obama's mind in his final months in office. Last week, he delivered paperwork commiting the US to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gas pollution to about a quarter below the levels from 2005 by 2025. Likewise, China , the leading producer of greenhouse gas, has committed to a halt in emissions by 2030. A large part of this decrease has been attributed to the reduction in coal consumption.

The Paris agreement now has been signed by 55 countries, responsible for over 55% of the global pollution, and it is expected to take effect this November. It remains to be determined how the agreement will be implemented. Clinton is likely to follow the lead of President Obama. It is less likely that Trump would continue on this path since he has voiced his opinion that global warming is not real.

Once it takes effect, countries are expected to self-regulate. This would include reporting levels as well as actions and activities that are being conducted to meet the agreed upon levels. While the UN is unable to enforce commitment to the agreement, countries that fail to live up to the standards could leave themselves open to embargoes or other trade related sanctions. In the end, following through on the agreement is entirely voluntary.

With the Paris agreement in the news, air quality monitoring will continue to be a key issue going forward.

 

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Tags: USA Emissions, EPA, Air Pollution, ambient air calibrator, Emission Standards, European Union Emissions

"Ozone Season"

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Thu, Mar 13, 2014 @ 01:04 PM

We are quickly approaching what is commonly known as "ozone season" in the US. This is the time of year where agencies shift into high gear of monitor, record and report the levels of ozone as well as other pollutants. 

gas calibrationMany of our customers have been getting their ambient monitor calibration systems calibrated and tuned-up to be ready to begin the season.  If you still need your system serviced for this ozone season, please let us know ASAP as the calendar is filling fast! 

 


Check out this post from last year regarding the EPA’s new ozone reporting site.  It’s a great way to check the conditions in your area.

 

On June 30, 2013, the US Environmental Protection Agency released a revision to the Air Emissions Reporting Rule (AERR). The rule states the goal of the revisions is to "reduce reporting burden for state, local and tribal agencies, improve consistency and clarity with other rules, and better reflect current inventory technologies and practices."

The AERR was first published in 2008 as a replacement to the previous Consolidated Emissions Reporting Rule (CERR), which was published in 2002.  Both regulations were created to improve the ability of the EPA to gather emissions data on a national level.  The data is used to create a national inventory of air pollutant emissions. You can see this data in use and search for the conditions in your area at the EPA's MY Environment.

air quality ambient monitor

The improved AERR aims to grant states more flexibility on how to collect and report this emissions data.  These increased permissions give the state programs the ability to operate more efficiently.  To find out more visit the EPA's AERR page.

Tags: ozone, air quality, ozone generator, Ambient Air calibration, ambient air calibrator, Zero Air, zero air generator, gas dilution, calibration, Service

News : Ambient Air Quality in China

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Thu, Apr 04, 2013 @ 01:12 PM

A recent article on the quality of the air in China began with this frighening statistic: Outdoor air pollution contributed to 1.2 million premature deaths in China in 2010, nearly 40 percent of the global total.  Brought into the headlines during the Beijing Olympics, the poor quality of the air in China is nothing new.  

beijinghttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Beijing_smog_comparison_August_2005.png

In February 2012, the China State Council passed ambient air quality standards, GB 3095-2012.  The goal of these improved standards is to improve both the environment and the health of those living there.   with the aim of improving the living environment and protecting human health. For the first time, particulates with a diameter of 2.5 microns or less, also known as PM2.5, is included in the standards.  PM2.5 are the smallest particulate matter and penetrate the body’s tissues most deeply.  Once inhaled, the particles may cause respiratory infections and are especially dangerous for children and the elderly, as well as those with existing respiratoy issues.  Ozone levels are also set in the standard with the new 8 hour ozone standards matching the interim targets set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

China AQ Standards Compare resized 600http://cleanairinitiative.org/

For years, Chinese officials had been collecting the data but failed to release it publically.  The US embassy in Beijing posts automated air quality measurements on an hourly basis at @beijingair.  Last June, there was debate over the accuracy of the readings due to large disparagies between the readings by Chinese officials and the embassy.  Chinese authorities asked that they and other stop publishing, what they described as "inaccurate and unlawful" data.

By early this year, many news reports emerged that the air quality in Beijing has reached hazard ous levels.  With 100 being the maximum "safe" level and 300 being a level at which those at risk should remain indoors, reports in Beijing ranged from 400-800 micrograms.

The timeline for implementing the new standards is January 2016.  Some cities may be required to implement the changes ahead of this date, as determined by Ministry of Environmental Protection.  Overall, provinces are being encouraged to implement the new standards as soon as they are ready.

Tags: ozone, Air Pollution, air quality, ozone generator, Ambient Air calibration, ambient air calibrator

EPA Extends Comment Period for new Greenhouse Gas Regulations

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Wed, Nov 21, 2012 @ 09:49 AM

epaLast week, the EPA announced an extension of the public comment period for "Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program: Proposed Amendments and Confidentiality Determinations for Subpart I."  The initial deadline for comment  was December 17, 2012 and has been extended to January 16, 2013.  In their announcement, the EPA stated that the reason for the extended comment period is the inclusion of two additional pieces of information.  First, the summarization of a conference call the EPA held with the Semiconductor Industry Association in late October.  The second is the EPA response to questions raised during that call about the calculation of Tier 2A emissions factors.

Environics PhotoVoltaic Project PanelIn brief, the amendment proposes changes to some of the calculation methods being utilized, provides some clarification of terms/definitions and adjusts the requirements for reporting.  The amendments affect all manufacturers of electronics including semiconductors, LEDs, MEMS, LCDs and photovoltaic cells.  The full proposal can be viewed here, and you can add your comments to the public record.

The EPA also has a fact sheet, which summarizes the proposal and can be viewed on the EPA site.

Tags: EPA, State of the Air, Air Pollution, air quality, Ambient Air calibration, ambient air calibrator, Emission Standards

EPA Releases First Clean Air Act Standard for Carbon Pollution from Power Plants

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Tue, Apr 03, 2012 @ 09:22 AM

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a standard for carbon pollution from new power plants, as required by the Supreme Court’s 2007 ruling regarding the Clean Air Act. 

EPA logo resized 600

This is the first Clean Air Act standard to address power plant carbon emissions.  The carbon pollution standard, now open to public comment, reflects the existing move in to building plants that use clean-burning and take advantage of more efficient  technologies. It also allows for the use of new technologies that will emit less carbon pollution but still burn coal.  It is important to note that this standard applies only to new generating units, not those already operating, being built or that will begin construction within the next year.

Speaking about the proposal, EPA Administrator said, “Right now there are no limits to the amount of carbon pollution that future power plants will be able to put into our skies – and the health and economic threats of a changing climate continue to grow. We’re putting in place a standard that relies on the use of clean, American made technology to tackle a challenge that we can’t leave to our kids and grandkids.”

The proposed standard gives a good deal of flexibility, and it can be met by facilities using a variety of methods, including natural gas technologies and coal with implementation of emissions reducing technologies. Since existing plants and those being built within the year are not subject to this standard, EPA did not project any additional cost to comply with this standard.

A number of statements from legislators, environmental and health groups and business people have been released regarding this proposal.  Just a few of these are below.  To read more, please visit the EPA.

CongressRanking Member of the US House of Representative’s Committee on Energy and Commerce, Henry A. Waxman, released the following, “The proposal is a breakthrough. It sets achievable limits on dangerous carbon pollution, spurs investments in new clean energy technologies, and provides certainty for industry. And it shows the President is listening to scientists, not extremists who deny the existence of climate change. Today’s action will reduce pollution, make families healthier, promote innovation, and help us compete with China and other countries that are investing in clean energy.”

The Sierra Club urged its member’s to send messages to EPA Administrator Jackson to urge implementation of these protections, stating “For the first time ever, the Obama Administration and the EPA are proposing national limits on carbon pollution. Carbon pollution is linked not only to climate disruption, but also to significant health hazards like the smog that triggers asthma attacks. Right now, 158 million Americans live in counties with unacceptable air pollution levels. By supporting the EPA's effort for clean air, we can make sure they go the distance and put new protections in place.”

Ralph Izzo, Chairman and CEO of Public Service Electric and Gas (PSEG), released a statement, “While we would have preferred that Congress enact legislation limiting greenhouse gas emissions, the EPA took an important step today in addressing the significant environmental threat posed by climate change. 

The Agency’s action establishes a logical and modest standard for new electric power plants and provides the industry with much needed regulatory certainty. The EPA provides a framework for the industry to confront this problem in a cost effective manner.

We understand that the EPA continues to evaluate regulatory options for already existing plants that may be affected by the Clean Air Act and we look forward to working with the Agency to evaluate the best approaches for achieving meaningful greenhouse gas reductions in as flexible and economic manner as possible.”

Subscribe to the Environics Post for updates on this and other EPA legislation!

(EPA Image - https://www.facebook.com/EPA)

(Congress Image - Wikipedia)

 

Tags: USA Emissions, EPA, Ambient Air calibration, ambient air calibrator, Announcement, Emission Standards

Ozone Regulation Revisited

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Thu, Feb 23, 2012 @ 11:33 AM

Earlier this month, the US EPA released their proposal for Implementing the 2008 National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone.  This includes their suggested Nonattainment Area Classifications Approach and Attainment Deadlines. 

The full proposal can be read here.  This table from this proposal summarizes the ranges used to classify attainment based on the 2008 standard as well as the length of time to reach compliance.

 EPA 2008 Attainment

Below is a summary of an earlier post regarding ozone generation and its uses, including calibration of ambient air monitoring systems. 

ozoneOzone used in industry, depending on the conditions (especially temperature and humidity) and method of generation, can be formed at concentrations ranging from 1 - 30%.  It can be used to disinfect water, clean air and laundry or kill insects in grain.  Ozone is also used in processing of manufacturing and production.

There are a variety of ways ozone is generated, but the two main methods of are corona discharge and UV light (Read the details about ozone generation).

In brief, the corona discharge method is the most common type of ozone generator for personal uses. The are used in ambient conditions and are more susceptible to environmental conditions.  

UV ozone generators employ a light source that generates a narrow-band ultraviolet light, mimicking the production of ozone in the atmosphere.  When used in calibration systems, such as those manufactured by Environics, there are a variety of industry standards that must be met to guarantee accuracy and reliability of the ozone produced (EPA criteria for ozone transfer standard).

Learn about our Ambient Monitor Gas Calibrators with Ozone Generators or contact us for more details.

Tags: ozone, EPA, ozone generator, Ambient Air calibration, ambient air calibrator, Emission Standards

EPA Releases Searchable Greenhouse Gas Database

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Mon, Jan 16, 2012 @ 10:14 AM

Last Wednesday, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled an online, searchable Greenhouse Gas database.  The user-friendly database allows you to search for reported emissions from most major sectors by location or business name.  In addition, the results can be filtered to examine particular gases and levels.  Gases can be selected from the reported list of Carbon Dioxide, Nitrous Oxide, Methane, PFC-14, PFC-116 and HFC-23.  Users can limit the emission range from 0 to 23,000,000 MT Carbon Dioxide emitted. 

EPA greenhouse gas database(click image to enlarge)

The new database fulfills the requirements set by a 2008 appropriations bill.  The EPA hopes that by making this data easy to obtain will increase public pressure for decreasing emissions on emitting facilities.  Gina McCarthy, an assistant administrator for air and radiation at the EPA stated, "We’re hopeful that the information will be a strong driver of greenhouse-gas reduction.”

A Supreme Court decision in 2007 triggered the process by which EPA is now mandated to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from all sectors of the economy. It has already started addressing such emissions from the transportation sector — which accounts for about 30 percent of the nation’s greenhouse-gas emissions — through the administration’s tougher fuel-economy standards.

As I mentioned in this blog post, the EPA is facing a court appointed deadline this year to propose regulations for power plants and refineries this year.  Currently, coal-based power plants account for 40% of all of the US greenhouse gas emissions, and those plants produce approximately 45% of the country’s electricity.  Any regulations would not effect these existing plants, but would strictly regulate new power plants.  According to McCarthy, there are no plans currently to build new power plants. When asked about possible control of existing plants, she stated, “We have not prepared any proposal for existing facilities at this point.”  This means that any regulations that are implemented will be limited in their power to address the concerns of environmental groups on the current levels of US emissions.

One other interesting thing to note is that all of these regulations are based on Supreme Court-mandated ability of the EPA to regulate Carbon Dioxide, which is listed as a pollutant by the Clean Air Act. Industry groups, utilities, and states and challenging this authority in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, with a ruling expected in February.

Follow us by entering your email on the right for more details as they are released!

Tags: USA Emissions, Environics Inc, EPA, Ambient Air calibration, ambient air calibrator, Emission Standards

Ambient Air Quality (and More) - Learn About YOUR Environment!

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Fri, Jan 06, 2012 @ 10:05 AM

"The air soft as that of Seville in April, and so fragrant that it was delicious to breathe it." - Christopher Columbus

These are the words Columbus wrote after his long voyage across the Atlantic. At Environics, we are always interested in air quality.  Our Ambient Air Calibration systems are used in the field to calibrate the analyzers that collect crucial data on the air around us.

Today, I discovered a great tool called "My Environment" which allows you to be more knowledgable about the air quality where you live.  Developed by the US EPA, the "My Air" tool allows you to see daily air quality (ozone levels, UV levels and radon levels) as well as compared to monthly and historical data.  You can also choose to see emissions data and areas which are non-compliant with current ozone standards.  You can see a snapshot of the results for our headquarters in Tolland, CT below. 

my air widget

Interested in more than just the air quality?  My Environment includes a My Water, My Health, My Land and My Energy tabs.  Each shows you a current look at your town as well as historical records and reports.  

Can't get enough?  You can even download My Environment as a widget for your desktop so this info will always be right at your fingertips! 

Tags: USA Emissions, Environics Inc, ozone, EPA, Ambient Air calibration, ambient air calibrator, Emission Standards

EPA Announces Delay of Emissions Rule Due in December

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 @ 12:11 PM

Oil refineryThe expected mid-December announcement from the EPA on plans to regulate emissions looks to be delayed based on an announcement yesterday.  The regulations, which would be the first United States' regulations ever on emissions from oil refineries, was set to be finalized by the end of 2012 based on agreement between the EPA and various state and environmental organizations.

The statement claimed that the EPA "expects to need more time to complete work on greenhouse gas pollution standards for oil refineries."  It went on to say a new schedule is in development with input from states and environmental groups. 

The proposed regulations have met with disagreement from the oil companies.  They claim that their industry already run on natural gas and will have difficulty finding ways to cut emissions without high associated costs.  They point out other regulated industries, such as the power sector, have had an easier time making cuts in emissions by switching from coal to more environmentally friendly sources such as natural gas and renewables.

Supporters of the regulations point out (as told to Reuters) that improvements could still be made at a reasonable costs by doing such things as replacing inefficient boilers and using waste heat to generate power.  This latest delay has increased the frustration of some environmental advocates who argue that this is just the latest in a continuing series of delays to environmental legislation caused by Washington politics. 

Subscribe to the Environics Post for updates on this and other EPA legislation!


Tags: USA Emissions, Environics Inc, EPA, ambient air calibrator, Emission Standards

Proposed Changes to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards

Posted by Rachel Stansel on Mon, Aug 15, 2011 @ 12:24 PM

Today, let’s take a look at the proposed changes to National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone.  For more information on ozone, take a look at some past blog posts that focus on this molecule, its generation, dangers and uses.   

National Ambient Air Quality Standards are required limits set by the EPA, as required by the Clean Air Act.  These limits are established for pollutants that are harmful to public health and/or the environment.  The Clean Air Act was last updated in 1990.  At that time, there were two standards set, the primary and the secondary standards.  Primary standards are those that are set in order to protect the health of the general public, with special consideration to those with breathing issues, the young and the elderly.  Secondary standards are more general and include protection against damage to the environment, crops, animals and structures.  The current standards are:

NAAQS resized 600Source:  http://www.epa.gov/air/criteria.html

In January 2010, the EPA released a proposal to change the primary and secondary standard for ozone levels, which were last revised in March 2008 (to read the full proposal, click here). 

The proposal seeks to decrease the ozone primary standard from 0.075 ppm to between 0.060 to 0.070 ppm.  The decrease was proposed “to provide increased protection for children and other ‘‘at risk’’ populations against an array of O3-related adverse health effects that range from decreased lung function and increased respiratory symptoms to serious indicators of respiratory morbidity including emergency department visits and hospital admissions for respiratory causes, and possibly cardiovascular-related morbidity as well as total non-accidental and cardiopulmonary mortality.”

 

The proposal goes further to recommend the secondary ozone standard be changed to reflect the seasonality of ozone levels.  According to the proposal, instead of a fixed number, the new standard, “should instead be a new cumulative, seasonal standard expressed as an annual index of the sum of weighted hourly concentrations, cumulated over 12 hours per day (8 am to 8 pm) during the consecutive 3-month period within the O3 season with the maximum index value, set at a level within the range of 7 to 15 ppm-hours.”  This change would serve to protect the environment from the impacts of high ozone levels.

When an area fails to meet this standard, it is referred to as a “nonattainment” area.  The below map shows the areas that failed to meet the standard as of the last report, April 2011.

 NAQQS ozone map

Source: http://www.epa.gov/airquality/greenbook/map/map8hr.pdf

As with any proposed change, there are those that will oppose it.  Just this week, the National Association of Manufacturers sent a letter to President Obama and EPA Administrator Jackson asking that they reconsider the effects of this change in legislation.  The letter, signed by 35 different state manufacturing associations, states that changing the standards will cause “unnecessary and severe economic harm,” “will almost triple the number of counties designated as being in violation of the Clean Air Act,” and will therefore discourage “new businesses from locating in non-attainment areas and restricting the growth of existing businesses.”  To read the full letter, click here.

The most recent notice on the status of the proposal was released on July 26, 2011.  The statement read:

Administrator Jackson is fully committed to finalizing EPA's reconsideration of the Clean Air Act health standard for ground level ozone. That reconsideration is currently going through interagency review led by OMB. Following completion of this final step, EPA will finalize its reconsideration, but will not issue the final rule on July 29th, the date the agency had intended. We look forward to finalizing this standard shortly. A new ozone standard will be based on the best science and meet the obligation established under the Clean Air Act to protect the health of the American people. In implementing this new standard, EPA will use the long-standing flexibility in the Clean Air Act to consider costs, jobs and the economy. (source: http://www.epa.gov/glo/actions.html)

 

Follow us so we can keep you up to date of all changes!  To learn about the Environics systems that facilitate dynamic calibration of ambient air analyzers, click here.

Tags: USA Emissions, Environics Inc, ozone, ozone generator, Ambient Air calibration, ambient air calibrator, Zero Air, zero air generator, Emission Standards