Ways to reduce smog

Actions
You Can Take to Reduce Air Pollution

Follow these Tips Every Day to Reduce Pollution:

  • Conserve energy – at home, at work, everywhere.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR label when buying home or office equipment.
  • Carpool, use public transportation, bike, or walk whenever possible.
  • Follow gasoline refueling instructions for efficient vapor recovery, being careful not to spill fuel and always tightening your gas cap securely.
  • Consider purchasing portable gasoline containers labeled “spill-proof,” where available.
  • Keep car, boat, and other engines properly tuned.
  • Be sure your tires are properly inflated.
  • Use environmentally safe paints and cleaning products whenever possible.
  • Mulch or compost leaves and yard waste.
  • Consider using gas logs instead of wood.

On Days when High Ozone Levels are Expected, Take these Extra Steps to Reduce Pollution:

  • Choose a cleaner commute – share a ride to work or use public transportation.
  • Combine errands and reduce trips. Walk to errands when possible.
  • Avoid excessive idling of your automobile.
  • Refuel your car in the evening when its cooler.
  • Conserve electricity and set air conditioners no lower than 78 degrees.
  • Defer lawn and gardening chores that use gasoline-powered equipment, or wait until evening.

On Days when High Particle Levels are Expected, Take these Extra Steps to Reduce Pollution:

  • Reduce the number of trips you take in your car.
  • Reduce or eliminate fireplace and wood stove use.
  • Avoid burning leaves, trash, and other materials.
  • Avoid using gas-powered lawn and garden equipment.

You can also take steps to minimize your exposure to air pollution and protection your health.

41 Super Easy Ways To Stop Air Pollution

The air that we breathe today is full of toxic and hazardous pollutants. Pollution in the environment could leave mother Earth sapped of its beauty and biodiversity. Each year millions of people die all around the world due to different pollution related problems. The key to live a healthy life is to identify the sources of air pollution and implement practical ways so that you can help stop air pollution.

If you have been looking to get in on the whole environmental movement, then you’ve likely been trying to look at the various options that you have when it comes to preventing pollution problems from becoming a bigger issue. In this article, we’re going to give you 41 different ideas that you can try out for yourself so that you can contribute to stopping air pollution in your area and in the world around you.

All of us face a variety of risks to our health as we go about our day-to-day lives…. Indoor air pollution is one risk that you can do something about.
– US EPA

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1. Use Public Transportation: Use your vehicle a lot less often. Carpool and rideshare when you have the ability to do so and consider using public transportation instead of walking; that way, you aren’t contributing to all of the issues that the air is already dealing with before adding your car to the mix.

2. Drive Smart: If you are driving on a regular basis, make sure that you are driving smart instead of wasting gas. Drive within the speed limit, make sure that there aren’t a lot of things in your car that will weigh it down, and do all that you can to conserve the amount of gas that you will be using on a regular basis.

3. Do Regular Car Check Up: Its important for you to go for regular check up of your car to make sure it does not consume extra fuel. This will not only save you money but your car will also last longer.

4. Keep Car Tires Properly Inflated: Car consume more fuel when tires are not properly inflated and aligned. Keeping them properly inflated will lessen your impact on the environment.

5. Buy Energy Efficient Vehicles: Buy vehicles and other items that are helpful to the environment. There are so many options that you have now that are either efficient on gas or they are hybrids, so you don’t have to worry about them putting additional gas and pollution into the atmosphere. If you’re looking for a new car, go energy efficient if you can.

6. Consider “going green”: There are so many options for going green out there and a lot of them come with tax breaks that can make it even easier for you to do so. Look into your local, state, and even federal initiatives in order to see if they have something that can help you change your tune.

7. Plant a Garden: Plant a garden that is going to give the air the nutrients that it needs to be cleaner. There are so many plants out there that will eat up the junk in the atmosphere. Do your research and see what one(s) you can grow easily and that will help the world around you.

8. Use Low-VOC or Water-based Paints: Use paints that are based with water and not oil. The less oil products that you are using, the better off that you’re going to be because that means less oil is being produced overall.

9. Turn Off Lights When not in Use: Don’t keep the lights or other electric devices on. The more traditional power that you are using, the more energy you’re wasting and the more that you’re polluting the air.

10. Buy Green Electricity: Buy electricity generated from renewable energies i.e. hydroelectric, wind or solar power.

11. Make use of Solar Energy: Consider using solar power instead of regular power. Solar power can save a ton of energy for you and, on top of that, it could also end up saving you a lot of cash in the long run as well.

12. Use Natural Gas Instead of Charcoal: Use a propane or natural gas grill instead of charcoal. Then, you’re not putting fossil fuels into the air, which can be incredibly detrimental to the world around you.

13. Use a EPA Certified Woodstove: Use a EPA certified woodstove or fireplace instead of oil. Once again, the less oil you use, the better it is for the atmosphere.

14. Dry Clothes on Clothesline: Dry your clothes on a clothesline instead of trying to dry your clothes in a dryer. The less energy that you use, the better off it will be.

15. Always Use Recyclable Products: Always use recyclable products if you have access to them and the ability to choose them. They take less power to make than other products.

16. Use Both Sides of Paper: Use both sides of a piece of paper. Otherwise, you’re just being wasteful with the things that you are using.

17. Reuse Paper Bags: Reuse paper bags; they work really well for almost anything you can imagine and they are recycled in the first place.

18. Avoid Plastic Bags: They are made from oil products and they can hurt the environment because it takes them forever to decompose (and some never decompose).

19. Choose Products With Minimal Packaging: When it comes to buying items from outside, consider buying those with minimal packaging and are reusable. Even if they are packaged, try to buy the one with least packaging.

20. Use Broom Instead of Leaf Blower: Don’t use items that are going to kick up a lot of dust into the air; consider using other items instead. For example, instead of using a leaf blower, why not consider using a broom instead?

21. Don’t Use Hazardous Chemicals: If you’re using materials that have a lot of chemicals and smell strongly, consider using them outside and/or not using them at all.

22. Quit Smoking: Quit smoking and encourage those around you to do the same. The smoke is terrible for you and for the air quality around you as well.

23. Insulate the Leakages: Utilize insulation in and around your home in order to make it so that you don’t have to use as much energy in order to heat your home.

24. Consolidate Your Trips: Try to make sure that everything that you’re doing can be done in one trip instead of going out several times in your vehicle. That way, you’re using less gas while you’re out and about.

25. Get an Energy Audit Done: Get an energy audit on your home that is related to energy efficiency, and ask the auditor about changes that you can make in order to ensure that your home is as energy efficient as possible. They can give you recommendations that will help you out and even save you money in the long run.

26. Use Surge Protectors: Use surge protectors if you have areas that are going to use a number of different appliances and then, if you can, make sure that you turn it off when you aren’t using anything on the surge protector. This saves energy and the items that you have plugged in as well.

27. Use Fan Instead of AC: If it isn’t incredibly hot outside, you may want to consider using a fan instead of air conditioning if you can. It takes a lot less power and energy to take care of it.

28. Use Blankets When it is Cold Outside: On the other side of that coin, if it isn’t exceptionally cold, consider just putting a blanket or extra layers on to take the chill off instead of wasting heat.

29. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Recycle as much as you can so that it can be reused later on in other products. That way, you aren’t adding to the problem by adding additional products to the mix of what is going on.

30. Buy Items Made From Recycled Materials: If possible, purchase items made up from recycled materials rather than buying fresh products. This will reduce the need to buy new raw materials to produce fresh items. When you are on a shopping spree, look for items having a recycle logo or are at-least made from recyclable content.

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31. Cut Down on Junk Mail: If you’ve been receiving a lot of junk mail every week, its time for you to avail services of various such companies that can help you to get rid of these mails in your mailbox and save millions of trees that are being axed worldwide to produce paper.

32. Buy Rechargeable Batteries: Every year billions of batteries are sold and then disposed off after use. Buy a charger and few sets of rechargeable batteries and that should pay off in no time.

33. Buy ENERGY STAR Products: Whenever you buy new electronic products for your home or office, always buy ENERGY STAR products. These products have to meet certain requirements for energy savings.

34. Use Cold Water Instead of Hot: It’s better for the environment if you opt to go ahead and use cold water for your laundry instead of hot water, because you aren’t going to have to use your hot water heater, which uses extra fuel and puts it into the environment.

35. Eat Organic Food: Eat things that are made locally, like vegetables and meats. That means that they don’t have to get transported as far to get to you (on top of that, it’s also making a big difference for your local economy as well, which can help you even more in the long run).

36: Grown Your Own Fruits and Vegetables: If you have a lawn at your own backyard, consider starting a garden to grow fruits and vegetables. The fruits and vegetables that you buy from the market have had to travel several miles before reaching your plate. So growing then in your home would be a great way to stop air pollution.

37. Ask your Employer For WFH Facility: For a change, ask you employer for work from home facility. With so many options available for audio and video conferencing, it shouldn’t be difficult for you to carry left over work to home. This will not only help you to reduce you trips to office and save money but also helps you to reduce pollution.

38. Contribute: See if your state or local government already has initiatives that could end up helping you to contribute to making the air quality in and around your area better than it would have been otherwise.

39. Talk to Local Representatives: Talk to your local representatives and government officials about the concerns that you have related to the clean air issues in your community and encourage them to act on it and take care of those issues so that we can leave our world a better place for our children.

40. Educate Your Companions: Let the people around you know about how they can contribute to clean air initiatives and educate them about all of the different ways that they can take care of the environment themselves.

41: Join an Environmental Group: In case you are willing to contribute towards growing pollution in your area, consider joining any environmental group. You can meet people, discuss issues and share ideas on what you can do about it. Spread the work and ask to join in this noble cause.

These, obviously, are not the only ways that you can go ahead and stop air pollution from an even bigger problem than it already is. What are you doing that we have listed on this life? And, what did we miss that you think could make a huge difference when it comes to trying to help the atmosphere and the environment in general? Leave us a comment so that we can all learn from each other and explore the big world of preventing issues that are related to pollution in our environment and around the world that we currently are living in.

Image credit: Eric , Francesco Falciani
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Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no ‘Planet B’ in this whole universe.

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Reducing Air Pollution

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Lesson Objectives

  • Describe the major ways that energy use can be reduced.
  • Discuss new technologies that are being developed to reduce air pollutants, including greenhouse gases.
  • Describe the difference between placing caps on emissions and reducing emissions.

Vocabulary

  • biofuel
  • cap-and-trade
  • carbon sequestration
  • carbon tax
  • catalyst
  • catalytic converter
  • fuel cell
  • gasification
  • hybrid vehicle

Introduction

The Clean Air Act of 1970 and the amendments since then have done a great job in requiring people to clean up the air over the United States. Emissions of the six major pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act, carbon monoxide, lead, nitrous oxides, ozone, sulfur dioxide, and particulates, have decreased by more than 50%. Cars, power plants, and factories individually release less pollution than they did in the mid-20th century. But there are many more cars, power plants, and factories. Many pollutants are still being released and some substances have been found to be pollutants that were not known to be pollutants in the past. There is still much work to be done to continue to clean up the air.

Ways to Reduce Air Pollution

How can air pollution be reduced? Using less fossil fuel is one way to lessen pollution. Some examples of ways to conserve fossil fuels are:

  • Riding a bike or walking instead of driving.
  • Taking a bus or carpooling.
  • Buying a car that has greater fuel efficiency.
  • Turning off lights and appliances when they are not in use.
  • Using energy efficient light bulbs and appliances.
  • Buying fewer things that are manufactured using fossil fuels.

All these actions reduce the amount of energy that power plants need to produce.

Developing alternative energy sources is important. Think back to the chapter, Earth’s Energy. What are some of the problems facing wider adoption of alternative energy sources?

  • The technologies for several sources of alternative energy, including solar and wind, are still being developed.
  • Solar and wind are still expensive relative to using fossil fuels. The technology needs to advance so that the price falls.
  • Some areas get low amounts of sunlight and are not suited for solar. Others do not have much wind. It is important that regions develop what best suits them. While the desert Southwest will need to develop solar, the Great Plains can use wind energy as its energy source. Perhaps some locations will rely on nuclear power plants, although current nuclear power plants have major problems with safety and waste disposal.

Sometimes technological approaches are what is needed.

National Geographic videos exploring energy conservation are found in Environment Videos, Energy: http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/player/environment/.

  • Alternative Energy
  • Fuel Cells
  • Solar Power

Reducing Air Pollution from Vehicles

Reducing air pollution from vehicles can be done in a number of ways.

  • Breaking down pollutants before they are released into the atmosphere. Motor vehicles emit less pollution than they once did because of catalytic converters (Figure below). Catalytic converters contain a catalyst that speeds up chemical reactions and breaks down nitrous oxides, carbon monoxide, and VOCs. Catalytic converters only work when they are hot, so a lot of exhaust escapes as the car is warming up.

Catalytic converters are placed on modern cars in the United States.

  • Making a vehicle more fuel efficient. Lighter more streamlined vehicles need less energy. Hybrid vehicles have an electric motor and a rechargeable battery. The energy that would be lost during braking is funneled into charging the battery, which then can power the car. The internal combustion engine only takes over when power in the battery has run out. Hybrids can reduce auto emissions by 90% or more, but many models do not maximize the possible fuel efficiency of the vehicle.

A plug-in hybrid is plugged into an electricity source when it is not in use, perhaps in a garage, to make sure that the battery is charged. Plug-in hybrids run for a longer time on electricity and so are less polluting than regular hybrids. Plug-in hybrids are beginning to become available in 2010.

  • Developing new technologies that do not use fossil fuels. Fueling a car with something other than a liquid organic-based fuel is difficult. A fuel cell converts chemical energy into electrical energy. Hydrogen fuel cells harness the energy released when hydrogen and oxygen come together to create water (Figure below). Fuel cells are extremely efficient and they produce no pollutants. But developing fuel-cell technology has had many problems and no one knows when or if they will become practical.

A hydrogen fuel-cell car looks like a gasoline-powered car.

Reducing Industrial Air Pollution

Pollutants are removed from the exhaust streams of power plants and industrial plants before they enter the atmosphere. Particulates can be filtered out, and sulfur and nitric oxides can be broken down by catalysts. Removing these oxides reduces the pollutants that cause acid rain.

Particles are relatively easy to remove from emissions by using motion or electricity to separate particles from the gases. Scrubbers remove particles and waste gases from exhaust using liquids or neutralizing materials (Figure below). Gases, such as nitrogen oxides, can be broken down at very high temperatures.

Scrubbers remove particles and waste gases from exhaust.

Gasification is a developing technology. In gasification, coal (rarely is another organic material used) is heated to extremely high temperatures to create syngas, which is then filtered and the energy goes on to drive a generator. Syngas releases about 80% less pollution than regular coal plants, and greenhouse gases are also lower. Clean coal plants do not need scrubbers or other pollution control devices. Although the technology is ready, clean coal plants are more expensive to construct and operate. Also, heating the coal to high enough temperatures uses a great deal of energy, so the technology is not energy efficient. In addition, large amounts of the greenhouse gas CO2 are still released with clean coal technology. Nonetheless, a few of these plants are operating in the United States and around the world.

Reducing Ozone Destruction

One success story in reducing pollutants that harm the atmosphere concerns ozone-destroying chemicals. In 1973, scientists calculated that CFCs could reach the stratosphere and break apart. This would release chlorine atoms, which would then destroy ozone. Based only on their calculations, the United States and most Scandinavian countries banned CFCs in spray cans in 1978.

More confirmation that CFCs break down ozone was needed before more was done to reduce production of ozone-destroying chemicals. In 1985, members of the British Antarctic Survey reported that a 50% reduction in the ozone layer had been found over Antarctica in the previous three springs. Two years later, the “Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer” was ratified by nations all over the world.

The Montreal Protocol controls the production and consumption of 96 chemicals that damage the ozone layer (Figure below). Hazardous substances are phased out first by developed nations and one decade later by developing nations. More hazardous substances are phased out more quickly. CFCs have been mostly phased out since 1995, although were used in developing nations until 2010. Some of the less hazardous substances will not be phased out until 2030. The Protocol also requires that wealthier nations donate money to develop technologies that will replace these chemicals.

Ozone levels over North America decreased between 1974 and 2009. Models of the future predict what ozone levels would have been if CFCs were not being phased out. Warmer colors indicate more ozone.

Had CFCs not been phased out, by 2050 there would have been 10 times more skin cancer cases than in 1980. The result would have been about 20 million more cases of skin cancer in the United States and 130 million cases globally.

Since CFCs take many years to reach the stratosphere and they can survive there a long time before they break down, the ozone hole will probably continue to grow for some time before it begins to shrink. The ozone layer will reach the same levels it had before 1980 around 2068 and 1950 levels in one or two centuries.

Reducing Greenhouse Gases

Climate scientists agree that climate change is a global problem that must be attacked by a unified world with a single goal. All nations must come together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, getting nations to agree on anything has proven to be difficult. A few ideas have been proposed and in some nations are being enacted.

International Agreements

The first attempt to cap greenhouse gas emissions was the Kyoto Protocol, which climate scientists agree did not do enough in terms of cutting emissions or in getting nations to participate. The Kyoto Protocol set up a cap-and-trade system. Cap-and-trade provides a monetary incentive for nations to develop technologies that will reduce emissions and to conserve energy. Some states and cities within the United States have begun their own cap-and-trade systems.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference meets in a different location annually. Although recommendations are made each year, the group has not gotten the nations to sign on to a binding agreement. By doing nothing we are doing something – continuing to raise greenhouse gas levels and failing to prepare for the coming environmental changes.

How bad could a few degrees be? National Geographic has a set of videos about what to expect if temperature rises by each of these amounts by degree Celsius.

Carbon Tax

The easiest and quickest way is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to increase energy efficiency. One effective way to encourage efficiency is financial. A carbon tax can be placed on CO2 emissions to encourage conservation. The tax would be placed on gasoline, carbon dioxide emitted by factories, and home energy bills so people or businesses that emit more carbon would pay more money. This would encourage conservation since when people purchase a new car, for example, they would be more likely to purchase an energy efficient model. The money from the carbon tax would be used for research into alternative energy sources. All plans for a carbon tax allow a tax credit for people who cannot afford to pay more for energy so that they do not suffer unfairly.

New technologies can be developed, such as renewable sources that were discussed in the chapter,Earth’s Energy. Biofuels can replace gasoline in vehicles, but they must be developed sensibly (Figure below). So far much of the biofuel is produced from crops such as corn. But when food crops are used for fuel, the price of food goes up. Modern agriculture is also extremely reliant on fossil fuels for pesticides, fertilizers, and the work of farming. This means that not much energy is gained from using a biofuel over using the fossil fuels directly. More promising crops for biofuels are now being researched. Surprisingly, algae is being investigated as a source of fuel! The algae can be grown in areas that are not useful for agriculture, and it also contains much more usable oil than crops such as corn.

A bus that runs on soybean oil shows the potential of biofuels.

Carbon Capture and Sequestration

If climate change becomes bad enough, people can attempt to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere after they are emitted. Carbon sequestration occurs naturally when carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere by trees in a forest. One way to remove carbon would be to plant more trees, but unfortunately, more forest land is currently being lost than gained.

Carbon can also be artificially sequestered. For example, carbon can be captured from the emissions from gasification plants and then stored underground in salt layers or coal seams. While some small sequestration projects are in development, large-scale sequestration has not yet been attempted.

This type of carbon capture and sequestration comes under the heading of geoengineering. There are many other fascinating ideas in geoengineering that people have proposed that are worth looking at. One wild example is to shadow the planet with large orbiting objects. A large mirror in orbit could reflect about 2% of incoming solar radiation back into space. These sorts of solutions would be expensive in cost and energy.

Just as individuals can diminish other types of air pollution, people can fight global warming by conserving energy. Also, people can become involved in local, regional, and national efforts to make sound choices on energy policy.

Lesson Summary

  • Air pollutants can be reduced in many ways. The best method is to not use energy that produces the pollutants through conservation or increasing energy efficiency.
  • Alternative energy sources are another good way to reduce pollution. Most of these alternate energy technologies are still being refined (solar, wind) and some have other problems associated with them (nuclear, biofuels).
  • Pollutants can be removed from an exhaust stream by being filtered out or broken down. Some pollutants, such as CFCs, are best not released at all.

Review Questions

  1. Since the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970, why is the air still not clean?
  2. What are some ways that you can conserve energy?
  3. How does reducing air pollutants, as described in the Clean Air Act of 1970, affect greenhouse gas emissions?
  4. What has to be done before alternative energy sources can replace fossil fuels?
  5. What are catalytic converters?
  6. Why are hybrid vehicles more energy efficient than regular vehicles powered by internal combustion engines?
  7. Why aren’t fuel-cell vehicles widely available yet?
  8. How does a cyclone reduce particulate pollution?
  9. How can coal power be made so that it has nearly zero carbon contribution to the atmosphere?
  10. Why is it that the ozone hole will not be healed for several decades?
  11. Many people think that biofuels are the solution to a lot of the problems of climate change, but others disagree. What requirements would biofuels have to meet if they were to be really effective at replacing gasoline in motor vehicles?

Points to Consider

  • Why is it important to reduce air pollution?
  • What can you do in your own life to reduce your impact on the atmosphere?
  • Why is a worldwide effort needed to reduce the threat of global climate change?

Reduction of Air Pollution by Combustion Processes

2.3. Nitrogen oxides

Among heavy users of the most polluting fossil fuels, through the NOx emissions, are the means of transportation driven by spark ignition engines and compression ignition engines, followed by thermoelectric power plants and then by boilers and furnaces in the sector of energy use in Industry (EEA -APE 002, 2010).

NOx emission depends on the residence time of the molecules in the flame, most of NOx is formed in the second part of flame development, where the temperature is sufficiently high. Usage of the excess air raise the NOx equilibrium value, and the time needed to achieve balance is net superior to the stationary time of the molecules in the furnace, which explains the experimental values of NOx lower than the theoretical front.

There are three possible mechanisms of formation the NOx (De Soete,1982, Kramer, 1986, Skunca, 1981):

  • thermal NOx from using the nitrogen from the combustion air;

  • fuel NOx, by conversion of chemically bound nitrogen in the fuel;

  • prompt NOx.

NOx forming synthesis is detailed schematically as follows:

The Zeldovich chain reaction pattern shows the exponential dependence for temperature of the emission of NOx, until the temperature threshold is reached. The emission is directly proportional with the residence time in the furnace of the molecules and with the oxygen square concentration (Zeldovich, 1980).

The temperature is the strongest factor to influence the NOx emission, exceeding significantly the influence of the oxygen concentration and the stationary time of the molecules. Stepped combustion is mainly intended to avoid forming high temperatures for reactants before reaching equilibrium, thus nitrogen oxides overall emission to be lower.

The wrong placement of the burners may determine through the jets interaction phenomenon local increases in temperature, which can lead to increased emissions of nitrogen oxides. Fuel nitrogen is present as organic compounds in the amines (NH and NC) and cyanides (CN) family.

These compounds react in two directions by:

  • Reaction with substances that contain oxygen, forming NO and

  • Reaction with substances containing nitrogen, forming molecular nitrogen.

Therefore not all the fuel nitrogen from combustion passes in NOx.

Thermal NO formation occurs in the flame in the post-reaction area, according to distinct mechanisms corresponding to mixture of fuel with poor or rich air.

The main factors that influence the development of thermal NO production reactions are: the atomic oxygen concentration, the residence time of molecules and the temperature of the furnace, with higher values at 1300ºC, exert the strongest influence.

The reaction of molecular nitrogen with atomic oxygen is the slowest. Dissociation of molecular oxygen at normal combustion temperatures is insignificant. Thus, for example at 2000 K, atomic oxygen is formed having a concentration below 10 ppm.

NO formation from fuel nitrogen occurs in the flame after a complex mechanism, partially unknown. It is known that first CN radicals are formed, whose evolution in the presence of oxygen leads to the formation of NO. The main factors that influence the forming of NO in this case are the nitrogen content of the fuel, oxygen concentration in the fuel, residence time and the flame temperature.

NO formation from the nitrogen contained in the fuel flows a little faster than the formation of thermal NO, but is considerably slower than the prompt NO formation.

NO2 formation occurs in the exhaust ducts of combustion gases, funnel and free atmosphere at temperatures below 650ºC, the main factors being: the temperature value, molecular oxygen O2 concentration, residence time, air pollution and solar radiation.

Primary procedures for reducing pollutant emissions of NOx have known three generations in development (ECE NOx Task Force, 1992)

  • First generation consisting in reducing the temperature of the combustion air preheating (RAP), flue gas recirculation application in the furnace (FGR), use of low excess of combustion air (LEA) and burners-out-of-service (BOOS);

  • The second generation consisting in production of low NOx burners 1 (LNB) or air staging at burner, flue gas recirculation at burner (FGR) and over fire air (OFA);

  • Third generation consisting in production of low NOx burners 2 (LNB) or air and fuel – staging at burner and in furnace NOx reduction (IFNR) as well as burners improvement for NOx decreased by increasing the internal flue gas recirculation.

In addition to these techniques there can be mentioned:

  • Emulsification of oil with water;

  • Injection of aerosols;

  • Water-steam injection;

  • Addition of fuel, combustion air, or spraying additives in flame (Ghia & Gaba, 2000).

NOx emission depends on the size of volume of the furnace in which take place the development of flames produced by burners. Large furnaces allow the existence of higher temperatures in and after the area occupied by the flame, so the NOx emission will increase, and the phenomenon is amplified by increasing the residence time. As a result, thermal charges of the volume and the cross section of the furnace represent important criteria for assessing the emissions of NOx.

In large furnaces, which burn gaseous fuels, the NOx emission is reduced by lowering the preheating temperature of the combustion air. Using this technique to oil burning is not recommended because it increases the percentage of unburned, especially soot production, as a result of lowering the burning temperature.

The amount of preheating temperature of the combustion air must have an optimum determined by the combustion to be more completely, NOx emission below the normalized limit and high thermal efficiency for the heat production plant (Ghia & Gaba, 2000).

For industrial furnaces, where high temperatures in the furnace are required by the technological process, the amount of preheated temperature of the combustion air is dependent on this need taking into account, firstly, the type of the fuel used. Primary reduction of NOx emission is done especially by removing the temperature peaks that are achieved mainly by the combustion gases recirculation.

Flue gases recirculation in the combustion air represent an efficient method of reduction of NOx emissions for fuels and furnaces that allow development of high temperatures in the flame. The researches have shown that the most effective method of decreasing the levels of NOx is the recirculation gases mixture with the primary air or gaseous fuel, because in this case it acts on the maximum of temperature of the flame core. Thus the burning rate is reduced, which increase the length of the flame and reduces the NOx content. As result there are necessary constructive changes to the burners and limiting the quantity of recirculation gases, so the complete combustion to be assured.

But it is noticed that by increasing the recirculation degree, the flue gas CO content is increasing, while the NOx content is decreasing. Reducing the temperature of the flame decrease the useful transfer of the heat by convection, because of the increase of the gases flow from the combustion of fuel with recirculation flue gas flow.

To the Hrenox process, recirculation gases mixture with some cold combustion air is introduced into the burner separately from the rest of the combustion air that is preheated. For a high degree of flue gas recirculation of 15% and a proportion of cold air up to maximum 10%, the NOx emission was below 200 mg/m3N for the combustion of gaseous fuels and below 250 mg/m3N for the combustion of high quality liquid industrial fuels.

Another way to reduce NOx emissions is in using tertiary air injected through special slits, located above or below them.

The burners will work with decreased excess of air, the combustion being done by tertiary air which represent 15-30% of total combustion air. Often the application of this combustion technique is related to the existence of large furnaces, equipped with several rows of burners located at different heights, where only to the upper burners it may be introduced by blowing tertiary air.

Also, to the individual burners of natural gas, or oil, the burning in steps is a safe technique reduce the NOx emissions. Combustion by-steps can be obtained by introducing fuel gradually by FS (air- fuel staged) process. The fuel added outside the primary burner forms a more under-stoichiometric flame after which, in the second stage NOx is reduced by NH3, HCN and CO radicals in N2. Optimal proportion of the secondary fuel from total fuel consumption is 20-30%. The third stage follows when the process completes when the final combustion with reduced NOx is done.

Insertion by-steps of the combustion air or fuel, reduces the NOx emissions, but this process must be implemented by optimal constructive solutions, whereas the NOx reduction processes are contrary to those of decreasing the CO and partially oxidized hydrocarbons.

The time required for combustion and reduction being relatively high, the FS process is recommended to apply to large furnaces. At the oil combustion, the FS process application may produce significant soot quantities in the primary flame, so it must be applied judiciously in case of combined oil-gas burners.

INFR combustion by-steps process implies the fuel injection in the furnace above the main combustion zone thereby causing a secondary under-stoichiometric area, after which it is added downstream the secondary air which completes the combustion. As a result, the combustion is divided into three zones. Hydro-carbonate radicals, formed in the second zone, occur to a temperature of over 1200ºC in the reduction atmosphere, reacting with nitrogen oxides produced in the main combustion zone so the N2 and other components to be formed. In practice, reducing NOx emissions by spraying water is rarely used, in large furnaces and only with superior fuels that form relatively high combustion temperatures and who have virtually no sulfur in the composition.

In the case of heat engines, primary measurements to reduce NOx emissions refer to optimizing the combustion chamber, the injection or carburetion systems, engine operation with an appropriate adjustment, using recirculation of exhaust gases, to which it is added the use of fuels treated by different methods (desulphurization, emulsifying with water, ultrasonic treatment).

Most of the researches conducted at the boilers to reduce the emissions of NOx produced by burners referred to the oil – natural gas mixed burners to which the constructive solutions adopted are independent of fuel that they use. Primarily it is used the combustion by-steps and the combustion gases internal recirculation, as the ASR (Axial Stage Return Flow) burner is done. Part of the combustion air flow passes through the central tubing of the burner as primary air. The secondary air is repressed from the burner box through pipes equidistant distributed on a peripheric circumference, each pipe having two outputs for secondary air I and secondary air II, the supply being performed by a separate cold air fan. To delay the combustion with primary air, due to the ejection caused by axial repression with higher speed of secondary air, flue gases are absorbed from the furnace through a annular transversal section, forming a separating layer between the primary step and the secondary step. In this burner there were integrated essential components of techniques to reduce NOx emissions:

  • Supply with combustion air in three stages;

  • Aspiration of the flue gas from the furnace ensuring internal recirculation;

  • Separation of primary air from secondary air through a stream of combustion inert gases that reduces the burning rate;

  • Liquid and gaseous fuels flows are adjustable allowing the control of the combustion processes to conditions of reduced NOx.

Very low NOx emissions were obtained by using the ASR burner alone and by applying additional techniques such as the addition of tertiary air, external flue gas recirculation and special spray nozzles for liquid fuel. To the combustion of oils with high sulfur content, according to the quality of these fuels, for entry into the solid particles and sulfur oxides emissions standards it is required the application of post-combustion control techniques that reside in the use of desulphurization systems, filters and cyclones.

For the furnaces of boilers burning solid fuel with low volatile content and a lot of bituminous ash having the liquid discharge of ash, NOx emissions level is relatively high. Since it is necessary to maintain a minimum value of the combustion gases temperature required for the liquids discharge of ash, NOx emission control techniques are restricted in operation. Cyclone furnaces with second chamber downstream offer very good conditions for combustion by-steps. When inserted into the cyclone furnace the required air for combustion there are obtained high temperatures for oxygen excess, so the NOx emissions have high values to 1500-1800 mg/Nm3. To the combustion by-steps the procedure is as follows:

  • in the cyclone furnace is inserted about 80% of stoichiometric air;

  • it is injected in the secondary chamber, as secondary and tertiary air, the remaining air required for fuel combustion. The optimal conditions for injection with tertiary air are met when the injection nozzles are designed and located so to provide the intimate mixture of the flue gas from the cyclone furnace and air. Respecting the above conditions, it was obtained a reduction in NOx emissions of 30-40% depending on the operating mode. Further reduction in NOx emissions was achieved by applying the external flue gas recirculation.

For mixed gas-oil burners the reduction of NOx emissions is done by the swirling the combustion air to a turbulence degree of n<3 to prevent high temperature peaks as a result of excessive shortening of the flame.

Intensifying the internal recirculation of combustion gases is done with repressed secondary air with great speed through nozzles located at the end of the entry into splay, creating an important vacuum that absorb primary combustion products. Combustion air admission is done best in three steps to avoid local temperature increase to high values. It is recommended that the primary air to represent 55-60% of the total combustion air. Oil spraying is done especially with slightly overheated steam using Y-type injectors.

To reduce NOx emissions and pollutants in general, it can be used the self-carburizing process for both boilers and furnaces (Gaba, 2010).

A low burner of original conception, with solid carbon particles formation in flame, is fitted on three condensation boilers for steam and hot water. The main burner elements provide the formation of annular jet of combustion air mixed with natural gas and of central fuel jet, which, by thermal cracking, forms subsequently particles of solid carbon. These particles lead to increase of flame emissivity. Having in view the NOx emission, the characteristics of this burner are the following:

  • use of natural gas as fuel;

  • the solid carbon particles formation in flame;

  • three stages mixing of the fuel in the combustion air;

  • the swirling motion of the ventilated combustion air.

The low NOx burner for boilers demonstrated excellent NOx and CO performance, producing emission levels below 60 ppm for CO(1.05 air ratio at nominal power and 1.09 air ratio at minimum power) and below 50 ppm for NOx (1.03 air ratio at nominal power and 1.09 air ratio at minimum power), operating with natural gas (Gaba, 2010).

Another low NOx burner of original conception, with solid carbon particles formation in flame, is fitted on forge and treatment furnaces (Gaba, 2009). The main constructive elements of this low NOx recuperative burner are: a ceramic quarl, a zone for the natural gas-ventilated air mixture, a zone for fuel atomization by collision with the compressed air, an air preheater and an ejector for exhaust gases. The ceramic quarl burner has a cylindrical combustion chamber and in the peripherical zone a few cylindrical channels for exhaust gases entrances. Between combustion chamber and cylindrical channels are another channels for exhaust gases recirculation. The zone for the natural gas-ventilated combustion air includes three concentric pipes: the central pipe with different orifices and nozzles for natural gas and two pipes for divided combustion air in primary, secondary and tertiary air. The air preheater ensures the heat exchange from exhaust gases to combustion air. Having in view the NOx emission, the characteristics of this burner are the following:

  • use of natural gas or heavy fuel;

  • three stages mixing of the fuel with the combustion air;

  • the solid carbon particles formation in flame;

  • the exhaust gases recirculation.

In conclusion, the solutions for upgrading the combustion plants for fossil fuels for boilers and furnaces can be grouped into:

  • the completion of the measurement, control and automation equipment and establishing optimal operating parameters;

  • the development of new types of burners;

  • the development of new combustion installations with high complexity.

The following can be a part of the first type of solutions:

  • operation with optimal values of the coefficient of combustion excess;

  • operation with optimal values of the preheating temperature of the combustion air and the gaseous fuel, like BFG (blast furnace gas) that is used;

  • operation with an optimal number of burners with a given unitary capacity.

The second group refers to making of:

  • burners with the insertion by-steps of combustion air or fuel;

  • burners with internal recirculation of flue gas;

  • burners having gradual combustion.

In the last group of solutions there are:

  • making of combustion plants with external recirculation;

  • making of combustion plants with water-fuel liquid emulsions or additived aerosols for fluid ionization in the furnace;

  • replacing of the solid fuels with liquid or gaseous fuels that are less pollutant. By applying primary techniques, the rate of reduction of NOx emissions is 10-44% for operating with reduced air excess, 10-70% at the insertion by-steps of the fuel or oxidizer, 20-50% at flue gas recirculation, 20-30% at low preheating of the combustion air and 25-60% to use low NOx burners.

Secondary procedures for reducing NOx pollutant emissions use flue gases treatment plants. The most commonly used installations are SNCR (selective non-catalytic reduction) and SCR (selective catalytic reduction). In a less extent combined plants are used for desulphurization and NOx reduction of exhaust gases, DESONOX and active carbon plants (ECE NOx Task Force, 1992). Selective Catalytic Reduction occurs at temperatures of 300-400ºC in the presence of catalysts, by injecting ammonia (NH3). Catalysts used: TiO2, WO3, V2O5.

The rate of reduction of nitrogen oxides is 80-95% for SCR installations. Selective non-catalytic reduction occurs at temperatures of 900-1000ºC in the absence of catalysts, by ammonia injection. The rate of reduction of nitrogen oxides is 30-50% (ECE NOx Task Force, 1992).

The reactions presented in the literature are selective, indicating oxidation of ammonia and sulfur dioxide (SO2) may not occur, the presence of oxygen being essential in the development of some reactions.

Treatment of exhaust gases by passing them in the activated carbon reactor is done at temperatures of 100-150ºC.

Depending on the type of installation, old or (new), by applying BAT (best available techniques), the emission levels of NOx, calculated as NO2, in mg/Nm3, are limited to 100 (100) for boilers, operating on gaseous fuels (calculated at 3% O2), to 90 (50) for gas turbines (calculated at 15% O2) and to 100 (75) for internal combustion engines, stationary, for gaseous fuel, calculated at 15% O2. In case of using liquid fuels on boiler installations, depending on the type of installation, old or (new), and its power by applying the BAT techniques, emission levels of SO2, in mg/Nm3, calculated at 3% O2, are limited to 350 (350) for power below 100MWt, 250 (200) for power below 300MWt and 200 (150) for power over 300MWt (Directive 2008/1/EC, 2008).

The amount of NOx emitted in the means of transport sector in European Union countries (EU-27) represent 46.3% of the total of NOx emissions at their level (electricity and heat generation sector represent 20.5% and energy using industry represents 13.9%). Due mainly to use low NOx combustion technology, to the replacement of solid fuels to natural gases, to the use flue gases treatment (selective non-catalytic and selective catalytic) emissions of SO2 decreased from approx. 16900 kt, in 1990, with 31% to about 10300 kt in 2007 (EEA – APE 002, 2010).

We’re all familiar with the term “ozone action day” and typically associate it with a hot summer day. But what does it really mean? The CLEAN AIR Force of Central Texas, a proud partner of Green Mountain Energy Company, explains the significance of ozone pollution – and what you can do to make a difference.

We’re all familiar with the term “ozone action day” and typically associate it with a hot summer day. But what does it really mean? The CLEAN AIR Force of Central Texas, a proud partner of Green Mountain Energy Company, explains the significance of ozone pollution – and what you can do to make a difference.

Ozone is a form of oxygen not emitted directly into the air, but formed through chemical reactions between natural and man-made emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and oxides of nitrogen in the presence of sunlight. Sources of these pollutants include automobiles, gas-powered motors, refineries, chemical manufacturing plants, solvents used in dry cleaners and paint shops, and wherever natural gas, gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, and oil are combusted.

Ozone pollution is the periodic increase in the concentration of ozone in the ambient air, the natural air that surrounds us. It is mainly a daytime problem during summer months because warm temperatures play a role in its formation. When temperatures are high, sunshine is strong, and winds are weak, ozone can accumulate to unhealthful levels.

The biggest concern with high ozone concentration is the damage it causes to human health, vegetation, and to many common materials we use. High concentrations of ozone can cause shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, headaches, nausea, eye and throat irritation, and lung damage. People who suffer from lung diseases like bronchitis, pneumonia, emphysema, asthma, and colds have even more trouble breathing when the air is polluted. These effects can be worse in anyone who spends significant periods of time exercising or working outdoors.

Adults breathe more than 10,000 times each day. During exercise or strenuous work, we breathe more often and draw air more deeply into the lungs. When we exercise heavily, we may increase our intake of air by as much as 10 times our level at rest.

When ozone levels are predicted to reach unhealthy levels or are currently being measured at unhealthy levels, an ozone alert is issued. These alerts are to caution citizens to limit their time outdoors as well as remind them to take actions to help reduce their emissions that contribute to ground-level ozone.

Simple actions everyone can take to reduce air pollution include:

  • limit driving
  • combine errands
  • carpool or ride the bus
  • avoid idling
  • postpone refueling your vehicle or mowing the lawn until after 6:00 p.m.
  • tuning up your vehicle

Every effort counts! If you live in Central Texas you can sign up for ozone alerts via email through the CLEAN AIR Force website at www.cleanairforce.org, or follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CLEAN-AIR-Force-of-Central-Texas.

Reducing pollution

There are many things you can do to reduce your impact on the environment. If we all use energy, transport and other goods and services more carefully, we can reduce harmful emissions to our air, land and water. Everyday choices have the power to make a difference, and help protect our environment for a clean and sustainable future.

What you can do

Be a part of the solution to pollution.

The choices that we make every day can help to make a difference.

Here are some simple steps you can take:

  1. Commute smart by walking or riding to work or the shops instead of driving. Motor vehicle emissions remain the most significant source of most common air pollutants.
  2. Choose a fuel-efficient vehicle next time you are replacing your car. The Green Vehicle Guide provides ratings on the environmental performance of new vehicles sold in Australia. www.greenvehicleguide.gov.au
  3. Save energy, by turning off the television and make sure you flick the light switch when you leave the room. Not only will you save money on your electricity bill, you will be reducing emissions from coal-fired electricity plants.
  4. Buy energy -efficient appliances. Check the energy rating label when buying new or second hand electrical appliances. More stars mean less emissions. The Energy Rating web site will help you select energy efficient appliances: www.energyrating.gov.au
  5. Use environmentally friendly cleaning products. Phosporus in detergents increases nutrient loads in rivers and can cause excessive algal growth. Never pour chemicals or fertilisers down the drain as they get washed into stormwater drains and into rivers or the ocean.

These are just a few small changes you can make to reduce your household’s impact on the environment.

  • Environmental Education – What you can do

What industry is doing

Industry can use NPI data to improve manufacturing processes, and can benchmark their emissions against similar facilities. Annual reporting also assists industry in documenting progress in reducing emissions and provides a measure of current environmental performance.

One of the main goals of the NPI is to encourage facilities to use cleaner production techniques to reduce substance emissions and decrease waste. Reporting facilities have the option of reporting on cleaner production activities and pollution control developments that they have undertaken during the reporting year.

The Carter Harvey Holt particle board mill in Tumut, New South Wales has implemented several emission reduction activities resulting in decreased emissions and better management of waste.

In the NPI summary report of sixth year data 2003-04, the Toyota vehicle manufacturing facility in Altona Victoria is provided as a success story for innovative solutions introduced to help reduce substance emissions.

  • Carter Holt Harvey particle board mill
  • Toyota Altona vehicle manufacturing facility

What government is doing

Governments can use NPI data to assist with environmental planning and management. NPI data is often used in the preparation of State of the Environment reports, and to support initiatives which help protect the environment.

Pollution control is the responsibility of state and territory environment agencies.

  • State of the Environment reporting

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When you think of air pollution, you most likely don’t conjure up images of the inside of your home or office. But because we spend so much time indoors — especially in colder weather — keeping the air quality as clean as possible in your home, car and workplace is important for your health.

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And, unfortunately, we bring most of those pollutants indoors ourselves.

Cigarette smoke

Experts say that one of the most common indoor air pollutants is cigarette smoke.

“The residual gas and particles from cigarette smoke that settle … pose health hazards, particularly in rooms with a lot of fabric or carpeting,” says pulmonologist Sumita Khatri, MD.

She says the risks are disproportionately high in children, who are more likely to be playing on the ground, and in people with chronic heart and lung problems.

“We all have heard of second-hand smoke; this is called third-hand smoke.”

Household cleaners

Household cleaning supplies are another common cause of indoor pollution. Harsh chemicals that give off fumes can irritate your nose, mouth and lungs, as well as your skin.

“Those with sensitive lungs and upper airways, like people with asthma and chronic sinusitis, may notice their symptoms getting worse,” Dr. Khatri says.

The fumes can cause inflammation that can make it more difficult for people with chronic lung conditions to heal from infections. It can also worsen inflammation due to other triggers, such as allergies.

Dr. Khatri recommends using natural cleaning supplies and elbow grease to minimize risks.

Other indoor pollutants that exacerbate asthma or other chronic lung conditions include:

  • Particulates from candles and incense
  • Irritating perfumes
  • Odors from harsh household cleaners
  • Craft and office supplies, such as paints, glues and toner ink
  • Fumes from dry cleaned garments (many solvents used are carcinogenic)
  • Allergens, such as mold, pollen, pet dander and dust mites
  • Wood-burning fireplaces or stoves
  • Improper ventilation in homes (can increase levels of radon and carbon monoxide gas
  • Gas stoves that are not not well ventilated with hoods to outside (can increase exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide and formaldehyde)
  • Materials used in older buildings such as asbestos, formaldehyde and lead

Illnesses caused by indoor air pollution

Indoor air pollution can increase a person’s chances of having flares of chronic lung problems, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

There are also likely longer-term effects from ongoing exposure that are more difficult to measure, such as the likelihood of lung cancer from radon exposure, as well as secondhand and thirdhand smoke.

“In addition to worsening the symptoms of asthma and other chronic respiratory problems, indoor air pollution can also cause irritation of the nose, throat, eyes and lungs,” Dr. Khatri says.

Role of ventilation, air filters

Although opening windows helps ventilate your home, car or office, that’s not always possible due to allergies or extreme temperatures.

Consider using air filters and getting your HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems) checked regularly.

Also, air purifiers and aromatherapy can often make air quality worse unless they are the the right kind, Dr. Khatri says. They need to be HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arresting) air filters.

How to cut down your risk

Fortunately, there are ways you can minimize air pollution in your home, car or at work, Dr. Khatri says.

Here are some simple steps you can take:

  1. Avoid smoking indoors (quitting smoking is the best answer for overall health)
  2. Use craft supplies in well-ventilated areas
  3. Make sure your gas stove is well-ventilated
  4. Minimize clutter
  5. Remove carpeting if possible
  6. Use a dehumidifier and/or air conditioner to reduce moisture
  7. Keep trash covered to avoid attracting pests
  8. Remove shoes at the door
  9. Have car emissions tested regularly
  10. Minimize air freshener use
  11. Test your home for radon
  12. Use carbon monoxide detectors
  13. Fix water leaks
  14. Dust surfaces and vacuum frequently
  15. Wash bedding weekly in hot water
  16. Make sure exhaust fans are functioning in your bathrooms and kitchen
  17. Keep a lid on scented candles

Taking some simple precautions can help boost air quality in your home and improve your health.

  1. DO NOT pour fat from cooking or any other type of fat, oil, or grease down the sink. Keep a “fat jar” under the sink to collect the fat and discard in the solid waste when full.
  2. DO NOT dispose of household chemicals or cleaning agents down the sink or toilet. Simsbury has a Hazardous Waste Collection day usually from 8:00am to 1:00pm at Henry James School. Connecticut Resource Recovery Authority lists all collection dates.
  3. DO NOT flush pills, liquid or powder medications or drugs down the toilet. For recommendations on proper disposal for all types of medical wastes, visit the CT DEP publication here.
  4. Avoid using the toilet as a wastebasket. Most tissues, wrappers, dust cloths, and other paper goods should be properly discarded in a wastebasket. The fiber reinforced cleaning products that have become popular should never be discarded in the toilet.
  5. Avoid using a garbage disposal. Keep solid wastes solid. Make a compost pile from vegetable scraps.
  6. Install a water efficient toilet. In the meantime, put a brick or 1/2 gal container in the standard toilet tank to reduce water use per flush.
  7. Run the dishwasher or clothes washer only when you have a full load. This conserves electricity and water.
  8. Use the minimum amount of detergent and/or bleach when you are washing clothes or dishes. Use only phosphate free soaps and detergents.
  9. Minimize the use of pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers. DO NOT dispose of these chemicals, motor oil, or other automotive fluids into the sanitary sewer or storm sewer systems. Both of them end at the river.
  10. If your home has a sump pump or cellar drain, make certain it does not drain into the sanitary sewer system. If you are unsure, please call Simsbury Water Pollution Control at (860) 658-1380 and we can assist in determining the discharge point.

Policies to reduce pollution and protect health

Emissions from cars, trucks and other engines are a primary source of harmful pollution.

Diesel exhaust from goods movement — specifically trucks, trains and marine sources — is of particular concern. The World Health Organization classifies diesel engine exhaust as carcinogenic to humans , and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that diesel emissions contribute to health problems, including premature mortality, aggravated heart and lung disease, and increased respiratory symptoms, particularly for children, the elderly, outdoor workers and other sensitive populations.

Protections at the federal, state and local levels, as well as private-sector mitigation, can make an enormous difference in protecting health.

Federal standards: Bedrock protections for all

Since the 1970s, the federal government has limited pollution from a range of sources, including power plants, industrial facilities, cars, trucks and off-road engines. Health and quality of life benefits from these protections have been substantial. For example, a 2011 analysis estimates that the Clean Air Act provides $30 worth of health benefits for every dollar spent.

All vehicles and engines operating in the United States must comply with emissions standards for specific pollutants, including smog, soot and greenhouse gases. These requirements have been a powerful tool for improving fuel efficiency and reducing emissions in newer vehicles.

Standards adopted for heavy-duty trucks in 2016 would cut over a billion tons of climate pollution and save hundreds of millions of dollars by 2035, while also benefiting public health by reducing emissions of particulate matter and smog-precursor pollutants. The new standards are supported by a broad range of stakeholders, including leading public health organizations, large companies that depend on reliable and efficient freight, and consumers. However, the Trump administration recently announced formal steps to weaken these common-sense standards, which both save consumers and truckers money and reduce pollution for families and communities.

Voluntary programs also play a major role in reducing emissions and promoting cleaner air. For example, EPA’s SmartWay program has empowered companies to move goods in the cleanest, most energy-efficient way possible (and to save $27.8 billion in fuel costs) since 2004. SmartWay’s clean air achievements (84 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, 1,694,000 tons of nitrogen oxides and 70,000 tons of particulate matter emissions avoided) are also a boon to public health.

EPA’s SmartWay program has empowered companies to move goods in the cleanest, most energy-efficient way. Since 2004, SmartWay has saved 170.3 million barrels of oil — the equivalent of eliminating the annual energy use of more than 6 million homes. SmartWay’s clean air achievements are also a boon to public health, with 72.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, 1,458,000 tons of nitrogen oxides and 59,000 tons of particulate matter emissions avoided. Companies affiliated with the SmartWay Program have also saved up to $24.9 billion in fuel costs to date.

Meanwhile, the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA), which provides funding for owners to replace their diesel equipment sooner than legally required, cut 335,200 tons of NOx pollution and 14,700 tons of particulate matter (PM2.5) since 2008. Officials estimate health benefits of $12.6 billion and up to 1,700 fewer premature deaths.

State initiatives: California’s freight plan

With an increasingly uncertain outlook for national clean air protections, states are leading a transition to cleaner technologies. California is tackling freight-related transportation emissions with its California Sustainable Freight Action Plan, which sets a goal of using zero- or near-zero emissions equipment to transport freight everywhere feasible.

This ambitious vision puts California on the right path, but the plan’s ability to achieve its goals will require robust support from the public and follow-through from California legislators

Reducing exposure through city planning

The Oakland air quality maps show that air pollution levels can vary significantly by location. Cities can use air quality information and emissions data to guide planning decisions in ways that reduce residents’ exposure to air pollution, for example, by building schools, hospitals or housing developments farther away from major sources of pollution like freeways. Likewise, local and regional governments can use air pollution data to guide transportation planning, and companies can incorporate this information in freight management. Similarly, local governments, companies or individuals can provide funding to install air filtration systems in areas with high levels of pollution to assist in reducing exposure to harmful toxic air.

Reducing exposure to air pollution has important benefits, but cutting emissions at the source is the most powerful tool for protecting people’s health over the long term. And reducing tailpipe emissions also reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Speak up where you live

If you live in Oakland, connect with local groups like the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP), who can help you take action on issues that affect Oakland air quality.

If you live elsewhere, find a group working near you. For example, Moms Clean Air Force, a national group of more than a million parents, organizes communities to protect clean air and our kids’ health in 20 states.

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