Daniel Convissor's Web Site (is in the midst of reconstruction):

Transportation Induced Pollution, Greenhouse Effect and Ozone Depletion

It is now evident that this "command and control" strategy has failed. For example, the EPA expected the prescribed automobile exhaust controls to reduce annual carbon monoxide emissions by 80 percent and nitrogen oxides by 70 percent between 1975 and 1985. But in that period carbon monoxide emissions fell only 19 percent and nitrogen oxides increased 4 percent. The trends in other standard air pollutants are similar.

Yet, annual emissions of lead into the air have fallen 94 percent since 1975, suggesting that there are right and wrong ways of reducing pollution. The very few successes -- lead, DDT, PCB's, strontium 90 are examples -- tell us what works. In each case, substantial improvement was achieved. In each case, substantial improvement was achieved not by tacking a control device onto the process that generates the pollutant, but by eliminating the pollutant from the production process itself.

Pollution prevention calls for replacing the production technologies that now assault the environment with processes that are inherently free of pollutants.

--Barry Commoner, "Free Markets Can't Control Pollution," New York Times, June 10, 1990.


One complaint is that equipment to detect ozone in the air has been limited almost exclusively to large metropolitan areas.

Because there are few ozone monitors outside of the cities, the agency's ability to understand regional transport of ozone is limited, said David Hawkins, a senior attorney of the Natural Resources Defense Council Inc.

--Rochelle Stanfield, "Problems With Data Collection Hinder Efforts on Pollution, Experts Say," New York Times, November 8, 1988.


As you likely recall, you included a request to [New York State Department of Environmental Conservation] Commissioner Jorling on a copy of the letter [to State Senator Leonard Stavisky. The letter was sent in support of a proposed bill which would place air quality monitoring stations at toll plazas of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA). The bill came in response to toll workers becoming ill over some "unknown cause."]. The question related to sitting ambient air quality monitors at TBTA toll plazas for State Implementation Plan Monitoring purposes. Commissioner Jorling has asked me to respond to your concern.

You area correct in your understanding, especially as it relates to SIP defined air quality monitoring networks. The purpose of that network is to define general air quality nationally, including nonattainment areas such as the New York City Metropolitan Area. It is not intended to monitor occupational exposure to air pollutants. Monitors are likewise not placed in the vicinity of possible anomalous [inconsistent / deviating from the common type of] source areas such as toll plazas. I have enclosed a portion of the relevant USEPA criteria for your review.

Title 40, Code of Federal Register, Chapter 1, Part 58, Appendix D, Reference 2.4, (May 1, 1988 Edition):

"[Carbon Monoxide] Monitors should not be placed in the vicinity of possible anomalous source areas. Examples of such areas include toll gates on turnpikes, metered freeway ramps, and drawbridge approaches. Additional information on network design may be found in reference 3."

[A toll booth is not an abnormal place, every day they have tons of cars emitting tons of pollutants which harm neighbors and other people farther away. This should be revised, eliminating these places from monitoring exemption.]

--James Ralston, Chief, SIP Planning Section, Bureau of Abatement Planning, Division of Air Resources, NYSDEC; in correspondence to Dan Convissor of Transportation Alternatives.


Carbon monoxide from traffic exhaust is the prime culprit for high levels of heart disease deaths among toll booth workers and traffic monitors in two New York City tunnels, a US study said.

The researchers said carbon monoxide levels in the tunnels during heavy summer traffic days ranged to as much as eight times the maximum federal workplace safety limit.

The report [by the federal government's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health], published in the latest issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology, studied heart disease deaths among 1,200 toll takers and traffic monitors who worked in New York's Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and Queens Midtown Tunnel between 1951 and 1982. Overall, the researchers said, deaths from heart disease were 24% higher than expected. Deaths from arteriosclerotic heart disease were even higher -- 35% -- and deaths among tunnel employees on the job for more than 10 years were 88% higher than normal.

--"Carbon Monoxide Linked to Heart Disease Deaths," Wall Street Journal, December 19, 1988.


The study [published today in the New England Journal of Medicine] was performed on 63 men with coronary artery disease. They exercised on a treadmill while breathing ordinary air or air that increased their carboxyhemoglobin levels to 2 percent or 4 percent.

At 2 percent carbon monoxide levels, they could do 5 percent less exercise before the heart showed signs of oxygen deprivation and at 4 percent levels they could do 12 percent less exercise. They also developed chest pain sooner with increasing levels of carbon monoxide.

--"Carbon Monoxide Found Harmful at Low Levels," New York Times, November 24, 1989.


Ozone exacerbates breathing problems for the country's 10 million asthmatics, but it harms healthy respiratory systems, too. The gas damages cells in the lung's airways, making the passages inflamed and swollen. New studies suggest that even legal levels of ozone hurt. In one experiment for the EPA, healthy men exercised six and a half hours on a stationary bicycle or treadmill for 50 minutes at a stretch, breathing 120 ppb ozone [which is the EPA hourly average limit, and if exceeded more than once a year, the location is in violation]. After several sessions, their lung function had declined 12 percent and it hurt to breathe deeply.

The damage does not go away when clean air blows in. In a study of campers in New Jersey, scientists at Rutgers University found that the time it took children's lungs to recover equaled the time they breathed pollution. Other studies have found that ozone seems to scar the lungs and increases the incidence of infection, perhaps permanently. "There is some suspicion that chronic exposure may lead to long-term damage in lung tissue," says Thomas Stock of the University of Texas School of Public Health. Animal studies suggest ozone impairs the immune system. Based on such findings, EPA's Thomas predicts the agency will change the ozone standard -- meaning that "safe" air isn't.

--Newsweek, August 29, 1988


Dr. Paul Lioy, director of the human exposure division of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey [in Newark], said that a "new wave of information now coming in suggesting that it is not just the one-hour peak exposure to ozone that can cause acute health effects but that these effects can occur with lower peak levels spread over a longer time.

Dr. Lippman of NYU said that recent clinical studies on rats showed that long- term exposure to ozone caused biochemical and structural changes in the lugs of animals, including a stiffening of the lung walls in a way that parallels aging. He also said humans seem to be more sensitive to ozone than rats.

--"Ozone Pollution in Many Cities Is Found at Peak of Decade With Summer Heat," New York Times, July 30, 1988.


Dr. [Judith] Grahm [an EPA toxicologist] and other researchers note several types of changes in the lungs of animals exposed to ozone at levels typically found in cities. In the deep lung, the tissue lining the alveoli, or small air sacs, changes as more sensitive cells are replaced by thicker ones that are harder for air to penetrate. Scar tissue develops elsewhere in the deep lung, making the lung stiffer. Finally, there is persistent inflammation.

Dr. Donald Dungworth, professor of pathology at the veterinary school at the University of California, Davis, said that monkeys exposed to ozone at 0.1 to 0.2 parts per million suffered "persistent but subtle damage" in the nose and the bronchiole. Still, he said, the changes in the cells of the lung are "much, much more subtle than cigarette smoking at a pack a day." It is not even certain, Dr. Dungworth said, that the changes are harmful, rather than adaptive or protective. Nor do scientists know whether or how much the damage is reversed after exposure stops.

Researchers have determined, however, that breathing air that has ozone concentrations of 0.1 to 0.2 parts per million impairs the lung's bacteria- fighting ability. Recent studies also indicate that ozone impedes the lung's ability to rid itself of other types of pollutant particles and small fibers.

--Laura Mansnerus,"How the Lung Reacts To Ozone Pollution," New York Times, August 21, 1988.


One of the studies that has triggered concern showed that children playing outdoors at a summer camp in New Jersey could expel less air when ozone levels were about 0.113 ppm. A research team led by Dalia Spektor of New York University, Lippmann, and others studied 53 boys and 38 girls attending a YMCA camp in Fairview Lake in northwestern New Jersey in 1894.

According to the results published earlier this year in the journal American Review of Respiratory Disease, a third of the children experienced a temporary reduction in [the volume of air that a person breathes out in 1 second, forced expiratory volume] FEV1 of 16% on average during a period when ozone concentrations were close to the federal standard, but never exceeded it. EPA staff recently proposed in a draft document that a 10% reduction in FEV1 constitutes an adverse health effect.

Various experiments with rodents and primates showed that longer term exposure to ozone concentrations near the ambient range retard the ability of the animals' lungs to clear out toxic particles and cause inflammation of the lining of the animals' lungs. One study indicated that the function of cells that fight off bacterial infection in the lungs of rodents was impaired.

Paul Lioy of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and a member of the EPA advisory board, remarks, "all the health data coming together say we've got a problem. The present standard is not adequate."

--Marjorie Sun, "Tighter Ozone Standard Urged by Scientists," Science, June 24, 1988.


About 150 million Americans [roughly 3/4 of the total population] now live in areas that exceeded the EPA's maximum safe level of ozone pollution on at least one occasion last year.

Several medical doctors testified today that the recent research showed the agency's maximum safe level, 0.12 parts per million in the air in any given hour, was inadequate to protect public health, particularly the health of children, who are more susceptible to respiratory problems from smog because of their smaller breathing passages and less developed immune systems.

Dr. Philip Landrigan, speaking for the American Academy of Pediatrics and of the American Public Health Association, said that recent studies have shown that exposure to ozone at less than 0.08 parts per million could affect eh function of children's lungs and that it would be "prudent" to limit children's outdoor play because they could suffer acute respiratory problems, including pain and shortness of breath.

--Philip Shabecoff, "Health Risk From Smog Is Growing, Official Says," New York Times, March 21, 1989.


Soot is particularly pernicious and is linked to increased lung cancer rates. The [Natural Resources Defense Council] estimates that 3,000 tons of soot is injected into the city's air each year. Some 62 percent of these particulates are less than 5 microns in size; and it's these tiny particles that penetrate most deeply into the lungs and are the hardest for the body's cleansing systems to get rid of.

--David Campbell, "Pollution Paranoia," 7 Days, August 31, 1988.


Last season's program achieved about a 17 percent reduction in carbon monoxide levels, 10 percent from the cutback in driving and 7 percent from reduced wood burning, Ms.Grady said. The two-month oxygenated fuels program was credited with reducing carbon monoxide 8 percent to 9.5 percent.

The estimated 1.6 million residents of the six-county area are being asked not to drive one day a week and to reduce driving through car poling and busing.

--"Denver Inaugurating Clean Air Campaign To Win US Funds," New York Times, November 1, 1988.


The deterioration of high-elevation spruce in the Northeast has been especially dramatic over the past several years. Significant reductions in the radial growth of trees have been accompanied by increased mortality. Extensive data gathered in the Northeast show that above 900 meters, most spruce trees that had lost more than half of their upper-crown foliage in 1982 had died by 1987. Fully 20 percent of the spruce alive in 1982 had died by 1987 -- a mortality rate about eight times that of spruce at lower elevations. Near the tops of three new England mountains -- where pollution levels are high -- almost 60 percent of the trees were dead of dying compared with only 20 percent at lower elevations. Above 900 meters, the red spruce on three mountains in New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire will by 1992 have decreased in abundance by 50 to 80 percent since 1962.

High mortality has also been observed in the spruce fir forests of Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina. On a fourth of the 66 thousand acres of spruce- fir forests in these three states, more than 70 percent of the standing trees are dead, much of it pollution-weakened Fraser fir killed by the balsam wolly adelgid.

Air pollution is also a leading suspect in the declines of sugar maple and beech in Vermont's mountains and in the reduced growth is a common sign of ozone injury) of commercial yellow pines in much of the Southeast.

--James MacKenzie and Mohamed El-Ashry, "Ill Winds: Airborne Pollution's Toll on Trees and Crops," WRI Publications Brief, Sept., 1988. World Resources Institute, 1750 New York Av, NW., Washington, DC, 20006


Ozone, a common air pollutant, can cut sapling growth by some 20% without symptoms such as yellowing leaves, said Herbert Bormann, a Yale University ecologist. "This suggests there may be stands of trees with serious damage that hasn't been observed," he added.

--David Stipp, "Syrup Producers Worry Maple Blight May Be Linked to Acid Rain Pollution," Wall Street Journal, October 25, 1988.


Ozone also has traumatic effects on plants, slowing their growth and decreasing their resistance to disease. Of the 700,000 street trees in New York, about 13,000 die each hear, most due to air pollution.

--David Campbell, "Pollution Paranoia," 7 Days, August 31, 1988.


Motor vehicles cause 75% of nation's carbon monoxide (CO), 45% of the nitrogen oxides (NOx) and 33% of the hydrocarbon emissions. The latter two pollutants are key ingredients information f ozone--primary constituent in smog.

--Background on Federal Clean Air Act Reauthorizations and Facts on Need for Prompt, Strong Action. [This publication may have something to do with the National Clean Air Coalition and published in 1989 -- DC]


Some nearby [to NY City] parts of New Jersey had unacceptable levels [of ozone] more than 20 times in the year.

--Mark Uhlig, "NYC Fails to Meet Federal Deadline for Improving Its Air Quality," New York Times, August 31, 1988.


In 1983, an EC [European Community] consultant estimated that air pollution damages alone at $2.2 billion to $3.3 billion annually.

--Richard Hudson, "Europeans Are Learning That Pollution Must Be Attacked in a Coordinated Way," Wall Street Journal, Nov. 1, 1988.


In Arrhenius' day the concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere was about 280 parts per million. Today it is 340 parts per million... [Arrhenius was a Swedish chemist in the 1890's who predicted global warming]

Melting of the polar ice caps would mean coastal flooding and the eventual loss of New York, Miami, San Francisco and other coastal cities. Long Island's high-water line has advanced 100 feet since the '30s, while Louisiana is losing 50 feet every year as the Mississippi delta advances. According to the recent Congressional testimony of a NASA scientist, average U.S. temperature has risen one to two degrees Fahrenheit since 1958...

Said University of California chemistry professor Sherwood Rowland: "If you have the greenhouse effect going on indefinitely, then you have a temperature rise that will extinct human life" within 500 to 1,000 years....

[The remainder is from an interview with Michael Oppenheimer, unless noted as BW, they are quotes from MO:]

Sea levels could rise by as much as a meter and a half over the next 60 to 70 years, according to our worst case scenarios....

It's too late to avert some of the sea level change. In fact, sea level has rose 12 centimeters over the last century. It will rise about six centimeters per decade over the next century unless we limit the greenhouse gases.

BW: Some scientists allege that the drop in the ozone level is only part of a natural cycle and therefore only temporary and nothing to be alarmed over. They say that the six percent ozone drop that we've witnessed in the 80s must be viewed in the context of four percent increase in the ozone layer which took place in the 60s. What is your response to this?

MO: There was a natural component to the ozone drop induced by the solar sunspot cycle, but when you correct for that factor it appears that ozone decreased by about three percent over the past 14 years due to chlorofluorocarbon emissions. The increase in ozone during the '60s was, to the best of our understanding, due to the fact that in the late 50s and early 60s, nuclear bomb tests in the open atmosphere resulted in destruction of a certain amount of ozone, and after the treaty [the Atmospheric Test Ban Treaty] was signed in 1963 banning atmospheric testing, the recovery in the atmosphere led to an increase in the amount of ozone. Since monitoring of the ozone basically started in the 60s, all we can see is this increase, and it is consistent with a recovery from the nuclear blasts, not a natural variability.

BW: What do you think about the restructuring of urban areas so that people simply don't need to rely on automobiles? For instance, workplaces could be within walking distance of employees' homes in a more decentralized city of the future.

MO: Yeah. I think urban areas are poorly designed in several ways. First, I think there should be a plurality of foci in urban areas. this would allow people to move towards individual foci of a particular industrial or commercial activity without everybody converging towards the same center. But given that there is always going to be a center of some kind (I think city centers are an important cultural phenomenon and I wouldn't discourage them), I think that cities should be built along linear corridors to encourage the use of mass transit. Right now they're built in a sprawl fashion. You just can't have efficient mass transit in a sprawl. We should design cities along the spokes of a wheel, with efficient mass transit which would encourage people to be less interested in taking cars. Let's remember that in New York City, something like 65 percent of the people who enter Manhattan every day use mass transit, not cars.

BW: Things are considerably different in Los Angeles and Houston.

MO: They're poorly designed cities. You won't catch me living in either of those places. I like New York.

BW: But millions of people do live there.

MO: People behave as if these cities are just an accumulation of hundreds of thousands of inadvertent decisions which are made in a sort of helter-skelter fashion with no way to govern them. And if you have that attitude, then the common good can never eventuate itself. If you had asked people in LA 50 years ago if they would have preferred to live in the reality of modern LA or this city designed along the spokes of a wheel where you had the option of taking mass transit to your workplace on a linear corridor, I think people would have opted for the more rational alternative.

BW: But in the interim, what actually happened was that LA's trolley system was bought up and then completely dismantled by a company with financial backing from the biggest corporations in the automobile industry -- General Motors, Firestone, Standard Oil. As a result, Los Angeles is today a completely automobile-dependent city.

MO: That's and example of somebody doing our planning for us. And that's to be condemned.

BW: And to a lesser extent, figures like Robert Moses have had a hand in making New York City more automobile dependent than it might have been.

MO: Right. A lot of this is due to the unwillingness in our society to accept the notion that things need to be thought about in advance. Because they can be thought about in advance. Now with the greenhouse effect, what you're talking about is this: either you plan in advance or you pass along a dying world to your children and then your grandchildren and I don't know if there's a generation after that, frankly. I just don't know. And that's the choice. It flies in the face of a lot of American political thinking. It flies in the face of the current mania with free markets.

But free markets have their limitations. Free markets are great for getting things done, but common goods like the air and water and the climate do not always get good treatment under a free market situation. We have to learn to use some restraints which will allow the free market to do what it can do efficiently within a limitation which allows us to preserve our environment.

[Free markets would be great, but there are tons of subsidies made to destructive industries. Free markets should also include complete social and environmental costs.]

BW: In the meantime, the super-developed cities are already here. Are they going to have to be dismantled and restructured?

MO: If you look back 50 years you'll see that the world we're in is very different from what it was. And if you look 50 years forward, things will change. Cities are organic, they're not rigid. We can't throw up our hands and say "oh, this is the way it is," because it won't be this way in 50 years anyway. it will be something different anyway and the question is whether we take our destiny into our hands. That is really the question: do we want our destiny to be governed by haphazard unthinking behavior? Or do we want to think a little more broadly than we usually do and describe that we would like the future to be so-and-so?

We've done this before in certain areas. We're just not used to doing it in regard to environmental planning. The United States carefully planned a large- scale global role for itself in terms of international and military power -- it was planned. We developed a huge industrial base aimed at fortifying ourselves. We built up, as the Soviets did, a large military. We established complex international relationships over the last 40 years which have allowed us to have a substantial amount of sway in how the world has evolved. We didn't control everything, but we've had inordinate influence compared to our size. If we could exert that kind of foresight in a direction which is more constructive in my opinion, we would be way ahead of the game. So don't tell me we can't do it. I've seen us do it.

BW: Doesn't changing our behavior as a species entail systemic social change, economic change and political change?

MO: I think that the real issues in these problems are institutional, or what you might call political and socio-political, and that, yeah, if we're going to deal effectively with the threat of greenhouse warming, we're going to have to find new political mechanisms.

Now I don't mean necessarily that we have to throw over the political system we have and start from ground zero. The political system we happen to have, say, in the United States today is in some ways fairly flexible, and I think there is the possibility of it rising to this challenge. If it doesn't, if we don't deal with the climate and other environmental problems, I certainly could foresee substantial dislocation, much as you would have in the aftermath of war. And then, who knows what would happen?

So it's really a challenge to Western capitalist democracy: Can you do it? Can you introduce enough coherent forward planning and group action into Western democracy to make it deal with this kind of large-scale threat? What that means is that government and industry have got to get together in some way, and government has got to say to industry; "We don't want this problem to happen. You tell us what kind of resources you need to go do the research and solve the problem and bring these alternative energy sources on line."

--Bill Weinberg, "Ozone Depletion And The Greenhouse Effect," Downtown, Oct. 12 and 19, 1988.


Eduardus Nijpels, the interim Environment Minister, said at the [70-nation] conference [in the Netherlands on Nov. 6] that the Netherlands would cut carbon dioxide emissions in 1990 by 2 percent, and 2 percent more each year to a target of 8 percent in 1994. The Netherlands would be the first country to take such action.

--Paul Montgomery, "U.S. and Japan Refuse Curbs on Carbon Dioxide," New York Times, Nov. 7, 1989.


About 150 million Americans [roughly 3/4 of the total population] now live in areas that exceeded the EPA's maximum safe level of ozone pollution on at least one occasion last year.

--Philip Shabecoff, "Health Risk From Smog Is Growing, Official Says," New York Times, March 21, 1989.


But the system that has given carte balance to the private bus operators is about to face drastic change. Now that the referendum adopting the New York City Charter Revision Commission's new city charter has been passed, the Board of Estimate and its Bureau of Franchises will soon be abolished. Instead, the City Council will take command, establishing new ground rules for privately franchised express operations.

The charter Revision Commission's deputy counsel, Andrew Lynn, explains: "It's designed to eliminate favoritism. Suppose an operator is a good friend of the borough president? The Council will set policy first on pure merits, not on who's going to get a franchise and who isn't."

According to Lynn, the new policy set forth by the City Council will also require companies to compete for their contracts. Charter Revision Commission spokeswoman Gretchen Dykstra explains, "Without a lot of competition, they [the public] are not given the best service possible at the lowest possible cost." The City Council will delegate authority for regulating bus operations to the agency with the most experience in the service, the city Department of Transportation, says Lynn.

--Karen Winner, "Exhausted!," On The Avenue, November 18, 1989.


Ozone which is near the ground which is formed by Nitrogen Oxides and Hydrocarbons combining by the energy of sunlight causes problems near the ground, but because night time arrives and with it the sun disappears and the ground level ozone breaks up, it does not rise to the upper atmosphere to join the ozone layer.


In the summer of 1990, New York City has again begun to enforce the 1972 statute which prohibits engines from idling more than 3 minutes.


Beginning in 1997, the hydrocarbon limit would be halved again, to 0.075 grams per mile. One of every four cars sold in 1997 would have to meet that limit. The proportion of cars sold that would have to hit the limit rises in each succeeding year; by 200, 98% of cars sold in California would have to meet it. A third generation of cars would be permitted to emit only 0.04 grams of hydrocarbons per mile. Those cars likely would require methanol, natural gas, electricity or some to her alternative fuel, some fuel makers believe.

--Charles McCoy, "California Air-Quality Regulators Mull Plan to Radically Lower Auto Emissions," Wall Street Journal, December 18, 1989.


The world has about 40 years to achieve an environmentally sustainable economy or descend into a long economic and physical decline, according to a report issued today by the Worldwatch Institute.

In its annual State of the World Report, which is published in nine languages, the Washington-based research group says the current trend in population growth, excessive consumption of wood, minerals and other materials in producing energy, the release of toxic substances in the environment and exponential economic expansion are already eroding the natural systems that sustain life on earth.

Because of the potentially "catastrophic" changes caused by fossil fuels, the report predicts, "the world economy of 2030 will not be powered by coal, oil and natural gas." Instead, it ways there will be heavy reliance on solar power in all its forms, including solar thermal power and wind power.

Carbon emissions, the report says, must be reduced to one-eighth of the current levels to ward off changes that could wreak havoc on the global economy.

--Phillip Shabecoff, "40-Year Countdown Is Seen for Environment," New York Times, February 11, 1990.


According to the Environmental Protection Agency, New York City leads the country in 1988 in the level of carbon monoxide pollution. About 90 percent of the carbon monoxide pollution in the city's air is from so-called mobile sources.

--David Campbell, "Pollution Paranoia," 7 Days, August 31, 1988.


Polluting emissions produced by the operation of automobiles include carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), particulates, lead, sulfates, and asbestos. In many urban areas, the automobile for well over 90% of CO emissions from all sources. Nationwide, approximately 40% of hydrocarbons and NOx, about 9% of suspended particulates, and 3% of all sulfur oxides come from transportation sources.

--Marda Fortmann Mayo, Bicycling and Air Quality Information Document. Produced by Abt Associates for the EPA, September 1979.


What about the new Clean Air Act? Any extension of the deadline for clean air will eventually allow more highway expansion and more VMT growth, and hence make it all the harder to eventually meet the standards. It is like getting an "extension" on having to remove the termites from your house -- they simply continue to eat your house and multiply. The only advantage to the extension is that a few people make money, at the expense of everyone's health. I also noticed "ensure traffic flow improvements: listed as a requirement for TCM. As mentioned above, improving the flow of automobiles is not necessarily good. This is like trying to kill ants by drowning them in maple syrup -- you may kill a few ants immediately, but in the long run it's counterproductive.

--Michael Vandeman, Legal Tools For Stopping Freeway Expansion.


The Harvard School of Public Health estimated ten years ago that air pollution kills 53,000 people a year. According to the American Lung Association, air pollution costs Americans $40 billion a year in health care and time lost at work. The National Crop Loss Assessment Network estimated that it causes $10 billion annually in agricultural damage. Damage to materials (buildings, etc.) is estimated at $15 to $65 annually.

--Michael Vandeman, Transportation / Air Quality Fact Sheet, May 29, 1989.


The BMW 750IL produces 66 tons of CO2 and is the worst 1990 car in terms of environmental damage according to a new study Driving Up the Heat: A Buyers Guide to Automobiles, Fuel Efficiency, and Global Warming (Public Citizen, 215 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington DC, 10003. 202/546-4996.) With 12 miles per gallon the BMW, along with a number of other cars, are a throwback to the gas guzzlers and polluters before the oil crunch of 1973. On the other end of the spectrum is the Geo Metro XFI which gets 58 mpg and produces only 17.6 tons of CO2 in its lifetime. Driving Up the Heat credits the auto manufacturers with the progress made in fuel efficiency during the 1970;s. But warns that consumer choice, in spite of Earth Day, is reversing the trend and leading to more carbon int eh atmosphere and the potential for more serious global warming.

--Transnational Network for Appropriate/Alternative Technologies, July 1990. Pox 567, Rangeley, ME., 04970. Tel: 207/864-2252.


A draft EPA study shows that off-road vehicles and power equipment are significant air polluters. These engines are not regulated by federal emissions standards. Their total emissions total 1/5 of the carbon monoxide, the total organic compounds and over 1/5 the nitrogen oxide of the entire car/truck fleet of the U.S.---EPA and USA Today

The fastest-acting threat to forests is not acid rain or airborne metals, but ozone. Unlike these "whose adverse effects on forest ecosystems is generally long term, ozone interacts very rapidly with trees, interfering with carbon dynamics, including photosynthesis, respiration and carbon allocation," said Yale Biologist William Smith. Ozone pollution "has the potential to cause rapid climate change and dramatically alter forest ecosystems in the next century."---Washington Post

During the Senate confirmation hearings of Judge Clarence Thomas, not a single question concerning the environment or ecology was asked. This indifference may have dire consequences. When he left the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Thomas went to work for a private company, the Monsanto Corporation -- one of the country's largest and more aggressive manufacturers of chemical herbicides.---Forest Watch

--Appalachian Econnection!, (December 1991) POB 309, NEllysford VA 22958


News Release from the American Lung Association National Office...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts: John Keenan
(212) 315-8746

LOW LEVELS OF AIRBORNE PARTICLES LINKED TO SERIOUS ASTHMA ATTACKS

NEW YORK, NY~A new study published by the American Lung Association has shown that surprisingly low concentrations of airborne particles can send people with asthma rushing to emergency rooms for treatment.

The Seattle-based study showed that roughly one in eight emergency visits for asthma in that city was linked to exposure to particulate air pollution. The actual exposure levels recorded in the study were far below those deemed unsafe under federal air quality laws.

"People with asthma have inflamed airways, and airborne particles tend to exacerbate that inflammation," said Joel Schwartz, Ph.D., of the Environmental Protection Agency, who was the lead author of the study. "When people are on the threshold of having a serious asthma attack, particles can push them over the edge."

The Seattle study correlated 13 months of asthma emergency room visits with daily levels of PM10, or particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of 10 microns or less. These finer particles are considered hazardous because they are small enough to penetrate into the lung. Cities are considered out of compliance with clean air laws if the 24-hour average concentration of PM10 exceeds 150 micrograms per cubic millimeter of air.

In Seattle however, a link between fine particles and asthma was found at levels as low as 30 micrograms. The authors concluded that for every 30 microgram increase in the four-day average of PM10, the odds of someone with asthma needing emergency treatment increased by 12 percent.

The findings were published in the April American Review of Respiratory Disease, an official journal of the American Thoracic Society, the Lung Association's medical section.

The study is the latest in a series of recent reports to suggest that particulate matter is a greatly underappreciated health threat. A 1992 study by Dr. Schwartz and Douglas Dockery, Ph.D., of Harvard found that particles may be causing roughly 60,000 premature deaths each year in the United States. Other studies have linked particulate matter to increased respiratory symptoms and bronchitis in children.

"Government officials and the media are still very focused on ozone," says Dr. Schwartz. "But more and more research is showing that particles are bad actors as well."

One problem in setting standards for particulate air pollution is that PM10 is difficult to study. Unlike other regulated pollutants such as ozone and carbon monoxide, particulate matter is a complex and varying mixture of substances, including carbon, hydrocarbons, dust, and acid aerosols.

"Researchers can't put people in exposure chambers to study the effects of particulate air pollution," says Dr. Schwartz. "We have no way of duplicating the typical urban mix of particles." Consequently, most of what is known about particulates has been learned through population-based research like the Seattle study.

Given that the EPA's current priority is to review the ozone and sulfur dioxide standards, the agency is unlikely to reexamine the PM10 standard any time soon. Until changes are made, there appears to be little people with asthma can do to protect themselves from airborne particles.

"In some areas, you can get reports on air quality, but the reports only cover the pollutant that is closest to violating its standard, and that's rarely particulate matter," says Dr. Schwartz. "However, PM10 doesn't have to be near its violation range to be unhealthy."

-- # --

The American Review of Respiratory Disease is one of two official journals published by the American Lung Association through its medical section, the American Thoracic Society. Its purpose is to provide pulmonary physicians and researchers with state-of-the-art information on the causes and treatment of lung disease. A second journal, the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology, covers basic pulmonary research. The American Lung Association fights lung disease. Its programs of education, community service, research, and advocacy are supported by donations to Christmas Seals and by other voluntary contributions. Founded in 1904 to combat tuberculosis, the American Lung Association is the oldest voluntary health agency in the United States.


If Americans were as energy efficient as Western Europeans or Japanese (where public transit is light years ahead of the US), this would save $200 billion per year, enough to wipe out the federal deficit. Personalizing the issue, that's enough to put $800 a year in the pocket of every woman, man and child in America, according to the Rocky Mountain Institute, an energy think tank [in Snowmass, Colorado].

Ten seconds of idling consumes more fuel than it takes to restart a warm engine.

Automotive air-conditioners account for 25% of the 700 million pounds of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's) used in the US every year.

More land (much of it former wetlands, open space and agricultural land) in the US is covered with pavement than is devoted to housing.

--Environmentalists for Public Transit, Clean Air Council, 311 S Juniper St #603, Philadelphia, PA 19107; 215/545-1832.


83% of voters favor a proposal that cars be required to get 45 miles to the gallon, even if a new car would cost $500 more.

--The Global Warming Debate, Union of Concerned Scientists, 1990

 


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Last updated: 7 April 1999