AIRE: Atmospheric Information Resource for Educators and students

Día Mundial del Asma: “Mi hija tiene asma. ¿De qué manera la contaminación del aire afecta a su salud?”

Pregunta: Mi hija tiene asma. ¿De qué manera la contaminación del aire afecta a su salud? – M.N., New York, NY

Respuesta: Las personas asmáticas son muy sensibles a los efectos de la contaminación del aire. Al respirar el aire contaminado, esto puede desencadenar o empeorar los síntomas del asma.  El ĺndice de Calidad del Aire (AQI) es una medida que nos dice que tan ‘saludable’ es el estado actual del aire que respiramos. El AQI se calcula por los niveles de unas sustancias presentes en el aire, las cuales pueden afectar la salud humana, por ejemplo el ozono y la materia particulada. Un nivel AQI sobre 101 no es saludable para la gente asmática, mientras que para los adultos con un buen estado de salud y sin asma, un nivel de AQI sobre 151 no es saludable.

La Prof. McNeill también tiene asma y en los días con alto AQI, ella no se siente bien y usa más el inhalador. Cuando ella estudiaba en la universidad Caltech, cerca de Los Angeles, la calidad del aire fue muy mala, peor que hoy, y esto la motivó a estudiar la química atmosférica.

Este post apareció por primera vez en este sitio el 4 de Octubre de 2014. Estamos respostandolo porque hoy es el Día Mundial del Asma 2017 

 

Air Pollution and World Asthma Day

World Asthma Day reminds us at the AIRE team why we care about clean air. Air pollution is a trigger for asthma. According to the 2017 HEI State of Global Air report, most people on Earth are living with PM2.5 concentrations which the US EPA has labeled as “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups,” which includes people with asthma. Air Quality has improved enormously in the US, to the benefit of asthmatics and everyone else, since the passing of the Clean Air Act of 1970. The improvements in US air quality are even visible from space. However, India, China, UK, and other nations worldwide are currently facing air quality crises. Cleaning up the air in order to protect public health, while at the same time meeting climate goals, will require a combination of technical insight, policy innovation, and political will.

New ACS Policy Statement on Climate Change

The American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific organization, has renewed its policy statement on climate change for 2016-2019. Highlights include:

  • – A strong, clear message: “The American Chemical Society (ACS) acknowledges that climate change is real, is serious and has been influenced by anthropogenic activity.”
  • – Recommendations for how U.S. Government may take leadership in efforts to combat climate change
  •  – Links to valuable resources from, for example, the National Academies, the US Global Climate Change Resource Program, and the IPCC

 

Cómo acceder al sitio web de la EPA en Español hoy en dia

Presidente Trump ha prohibido a los empleados de la Agencia de Protección Ambiental (EPA) comunicarse con el público. También exige que la Agencia elimine toda la información sobre el clima y el cambio climático de su sitio web.

Ud. tiene el derecho de saber:

  • – Información sobre el medio ambiente y cómo afecta su salud
  • – Información sobre el cambio climático
  • – Los resultados de las investigaciónes que se financian con los dólares de sus impuestos

Científicos y ambientalistas estan trabajando para preservar al contenido del sitio web de la EPA. Ud. puede acceder a todo el sitio de la EPA en español entero, incluyendo el material sobre el clima, a través del Internet Archive, aquí:

https://web.archive.org/web/20170125080600/https://espanol.epa.gov/

EPA report “Climate Change Indicators of the United States 2016” available here

We’re posting the publicly available 2016 report of the U.S. EPA, Climate Change Indicators in the United States, on this page. This is the fourth edition of this technical report, and has been a frequently used and well-loved resource among scientists and educators.

The files were downloaded from www.epa.gov/climate-indicators on January 24, 2017

Live reporting from Beijing: Air Quality in Crisis

V. Faye McNeill, Beijing, China, December 21, 2016

Haze over central Beijing, 12/20/2016. Photo credit: V. F. McNeill

Much of China, including the capital city, Beijing, is experiencing sustained heavy smog this week, with air pollution at hazardous levels for the past three days. Concentrations of fine particulate matter in Beijing’s air today exceeded 400 ug/m3, more than ten times China’s National Ambient Air Quality Standard (35 ug/m3). The episode has caused an increase in hospitalizations and disruptions in air traffic due to poor visibility. The government has declared a “red alert” and taken emergency measures including industrial shutdowns, odd-even traffic restrictions, and school cancellations to protect public health.

“I love Beijing.  I grew up here and spent my whole life here.  If it weren’t for the air pollution, I would love living here.  But now I think about leaving. Many people are leaving.”

Reduced visibility at Beijing’s airport. 12/20/2016 Photo credit: V.F. McNeill

Air quality is an ongoing issue in Beijing, and a major subject of concern for its residents. As one Beijing native told me: “I love Beijing.  I grew up here and spent my whole life here.  If it weren’t for the air pollution, I would love living here.  But now I think about leaving. Many people are leaving.” According to the U.S. Embassy, between 2008-2015, the daily average air quality index in Beijing fell in the “Unhealthy,” “Very Unhealthy,” or “Hazardous” categories 67% of the time. A severe air quality episode in January 2013 was somewhat of a turning point, leading to increased pressure on the government to tighten regulations. One outcome was the amendment of the national ambient air quality standards. Meeting the new standards for PM2.5 would be a major step towards protecting public health. But, as episodes like this one show, improvement is slow to come. Plans for local implementation and enforcement of the new air quality standards are still in the development stages. In some cases major changes in infrastructure are needed in order to reduce emissions, and this can take time. Local efforts alone won’t be enough: The city of Beijing has made bold moves towards eliminating coal burning within the city, but much of Beijing’s pollution comes from upwind sources, outside the city limits.

With the will of government and the people aligned, China is poised to turn around its air pollution problem. Unlike the U.S., which greatly improved its air quality in the last century and now must tackle climate, China is in a position to develop smart new policies and technology to improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions simultaneously.

New Report: The Future of Atmospheric Chemistry Research

CrDKHW6XYAIeMWo (1)The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a new report this week on the Future of Atmospheric Chemistry Research. The report was prepared by an expert panel of atmospheric chemists which convened several times throughout the past year and solicited input from the broader research community.  The report presents a retrospective of the successes of atmospheric chemistry research to date, and a vision for coming decades. Priority areas include: developing tools such as new laboratory and analytical instrumentation to accomplish scientific goals, creating data archiving systems, and improving opportunities for interdisciplinary work.

 

Chemtrails = bunk!

We were happy to learn of the publication of “Quantifying expert consensus against the existence of a secret, large-scale atmospheric spraying program,” an open access article in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research Letters summarizing the scientific consensus on Chemtrails – i.e. that they don’t exist!

To most scientists including us at the AIRE team, it is obvious that contrails have a simple physical explanation and are not evidence of secret chemical spraying.  In fact, it is so obvious that it would never have occurred to most of us to spend the time and energy to conduct and publish a survey on the topic. But until now, a nonexpert wanting to find out the truth about this by searching on the internet would encounter tons of sites filled with misinformation and conspiracy theories, and very little legitimate scientific information.  Hopefully this article (and press covering it, like this NY Times article) will be near the top of the Google search results for a while.

 

 

Air quality action day!

It’s hot as the Dickens and it’s an air quality action day in the New York city area and in much of the Northeast. Skies are currently blue but the air quality index is in the ‘Unsafe for Sensitive Groups’ range. This plus the super hot weather makes for dangerous conditions for asthmatics, the elderly, and other sensitive groups.  So do your best to chill out indoors this weekend!

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