Posts Tagged ‘China polluters’

For a global warming world, get ready for a burst of news about old-fashioned, ever-mutating smog

Thursday, February 16th, 2012


Let’s get to it, folks. Clean skies are a wastin’.

* Terrific commentary in KCET  about how California dug its way out of a toxic, car industry/lifestyle fanned pollution epidemic through passage of landmark federal legislation opposed by a lot of big industrial states — the carmaking kind. (Cue “I’m shocked” smirk here from “Casa Blanca.”)

“Perhaps the key single factor is the 1970 federal Clean Air Act. “It was such a huge change in the law,”  Larry Pryor says, nominating the Act as a Law That Shaped L.A, “because local controls were erratic and sensitive to industry costs rather than health costs.”Pryor is an associate professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism** and a prize-winning former editor and environmental reporter for the Los Angeles Times. During a recent interview, Pryor recounted the back story that led to the passage of the federal Clean Air Act, as well as the related creation of the California Air Resources Board to administer the Act at the state level. Signed into law by President Richard Nixon on December 31, 1970, eight months after the first Earth Day, the Clean Air Act set comprehensive emissions limits and allowed the newly established EPA to regulate seven harmful chemicals. The Act and its federal bully pulpit led to the expanded influence – or in some cases the creation of – local agencies such as the California Air Resources Board to administer the Clean Air Act. The Act was updated in 1977 and dramatically in 1990. “There were so many pressures around the country to clean up air, not just in Los Angeles,” Pryor says. “But I think the major impact was on Los Angeles because we were so far behind. We had by far the worst air in the nation and we also had all of the circumstance that were perfect for smog creation.”

* New research connects neurological damage with smog. From California Watch:

“It’s well established that dirty, sooty air is no good for your lungs and probably not great for your skin. But new research indicates it can damage your brain, too. A study in the journal of the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that air pollution accelerates cognitive decline in women …” Not surpisingly, here’s the bigger pitcture. Hint to link slackards: it’s the same old story. “Southern Californians are among those at highest risk of death due to air pollution, according to recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency research published in the journal Risk Analysis … The study examined air pollution exposure based on 2005 air quality levels and projected there could be between 130,000 and 360,000 premature deaths among adults in coming years. The 2005 data was the best available for analyzing fine particulates and ozone, the EPA said. Among vulnerable populations like children, the EPA also estimates that fine particulate matter and ozone results in millions of cases of respiratory symptoms, asthma and school absences, as well as hundreds of thousands of cases of acute bronchitis and emergency room visits …”

* Not convinced that photochemical junk attacks pretty much every part of the body in some way? Consider this little nugget from MSBNC‘s health page:

” Short-term exposure to air pollution — just a day or a week in some cases — may kick off a heart attack or stroke, scientists now say. Two new studies reveal that the risk of heart attack or stroke can jump after high-pollution days, especially for people who already have predisposing health problems. Up to a week of exposure to most major types of air pollution may be enough to trigger a heart attack, a new analysis published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association finds. Heart attack risk went up by almost 5 percent with high carbon monoxide levels and almost 3 percent with higher levels of air particles for up to seven days …”

* Beware Hong Kong. Angelenos — especially air pollution “downwinders” — feel your respiratory pain. From Reuters:

“Air pollution levels in Hong Kong were the worst ever last year, the South China Morning Post reported on Monday, a finding that may further undermine the city’s role as an Asian financial centre as business executives relocate because of health concerns. Worsening air quality in Hong Kong caused by vehicle emissions and industrial pollution from the neighboring Pearl River Delta is already forcing many in the financial community to move to Singapore … This was 10 times worse than in 2005, when very high readings were recorded only 2 percent of the time, it said …”

* London calling … for smog weather reports? With the Olympics coming. Nothing us Southern Californians don’t remember. But does the average Angelno know that England suffered the world’s deadliest smog attack back when we were just grappling with our self-made poisons? You better read our book, Smogtown: the Lung-Burning History of Pollution in Los Angeles if you’re scratching your head now. From the writing of a Green Party member in the Telegraph:

” … Those visitors will spend the day in one of the most beautiful, but most polluted cities in Europe. The weather will be great for sunbathing, but bad for anyone with a pre-existing respiratory or heart condition who spends time in central London … In the meantime, the Mayor must make people aware of what they are breathing in and the subsequent risks to their health, by publicising the details of the Airtext service which enables vulnerable people to get the information straight to their phone. Even better, why don’t we make it part of the weather forecast? That would soon wak the government from its appalling complacency.”

* On the less smudgy-air side, there are some remedies. Most are very recognizable. It’s usually the lack of political will and citizenry commitment that makes them seem pie-in-the-sky unrealistic in places like L.A. Again, read Smogtown for evidence. National Geographic gets into it:

” … While Los Angeles has improved a great deal since the 1970s when smog alerts would often recommend that people stay completely indoors, it’s still no Mount Shasta. The City of Angels was the most polluted city in the middle of the 20th century, but it was also the first one to initiate the country’s first air pollution control program in 1947. This was monumental in addressing decades of air pollution, which was only getting worse, but what can be done now? Cars, people, and factories aren’t disappearing any time soon, so in an increasingly industrialized world, is smog just becoming a regular part of life or can the detriments of air pollution be tempered? Here are some ways that the authorities can continue to innovate and mediate the problem of air pollution. Note that complacency or adopting the status quo is not on the list …”