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Nigeria's parliament says Shell should pay $4 billion for 2011 oil spill.

Environmental Health News - 1 hour 47 min ago
Nigeria's National Assembly said on Wednesday oil major Shell should pay $3.96 billion for a 2011 spill at its offshore Bonga oilfield in the latest assessment of damage to the environment.
Categories: Ecological News

Heavy pollution ruins Hunan landscape.

Environmental Health News - 1 hour 47 min ago
Central China's Feitian Mountain was once described by Chinese explorer Xu Xiake as “unique in every inch of land.” But a wastewater treatment station of a local power plant has been legally discharging waste to the region since 2007, after the area failed to be listed within the local geopark.
Categories: Ecological News

EPA Proposes Smog Standards to Safeguard Americans from Air Pollution

Ecology Today - Thu, 11/27/2014 - 00:55

By EPA

WASHINGTON– Based on extensive recent scientific evidence about the harmful effects of ground-level ozone, or smog, EPA is proposing to strengthen air quality standards to within a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion (ppb) to better protect Americans’ health and the environment, while taking comment on a level as low as 60 ppb. The Clean Air Act requires EPA to review the standards every five years by following a set of open, transparent steps and considering the advice of a panel of independent experts. EPA last updated these standards in 2008, setting them at 75 ppb.

“Bringing ozone pollution standards in line with the latest science will clean up our air, improve access to crucial air quality information, and protect those most at-risk. It empowers the American people with updated air quality information to protect our loved ones – because whether we work or play outdoors – we deserve to know the air we breathe is safe,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Fulfilling the promise of the Clean Air Act has always been EPA’s responsibility. Our health protections have endured because they’re engineered to evolve, so that’s why we’re using the latest science to update air quality standards – to fulfill the law’s promise, and defend each and every person’s right to clean air.”

EPA scientists examined numerous scientific studies in its most recent review of the ozone standards, including more than 1,000 new studies published since the last update.  Studies indicate that exposure to ozone at levels below 75 ppb — the level of the current standard — can pose serious threats to public health, harm the respiratory system, cause or aggravate asthma and other lung diseases, and is linked to premature death from respiratory and cardiovascular causes. Ground-level ozone forms in the atmosphere when emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds “cook” in the sun from sources like cars, trucks, buses, industries, power plants and certain fumes from fuels, solvents and paints. People most at risk from breathing air containing ozone include people with asthma, children, older adults, and those who are active or work outside. Stronger ozone standards will also provide an added measure of protection for low income and minority families who are more likely to suffer from asthma or to live in communities that are overburdened by pollution. Nationally, 1 in 10 children has been diagnosed with asthma.

According to EPA’s analysis, strengthening the standard to a range of 65 to 70 ppb will provide significantly better protection for children, preventing from 320,000 to 960,000 asthma attacks and from 330,000 to 1 million missed school days. Strengthening the standard to a range of 70 to 65 ppb would better protect both children and adults by preventing more than 750 to 4,300 premature deaths; 1,400 to 4,300 asthma-related emergency room visits; and 65,000 to 180,000 missed workdays.

EPA estimates that the benefits of meeting the proposed standards will significantly outweigh the costs.  If the standards are finalized, every dollar we invest to meet them will return up to three dollars in health benefits. These large health benefits will be gained from avoiding asthma attacks, heart attacks, missed school days and premature deaths, among other health effects valued at $6.4 to $13 billion annually in 2025 for a standard of 70 ppb, and $19 to $38 billion annually in 2025 for a standard of 65 ppb.  Annual costs are estimated at $3.9 billion in 2025 for a standard of 70 ppb, and $15 billion for a standard at 65 ppb.

A combination of recently finalized or proposed air pollution rules – including “Tier 3” clean vehicle and fuels standards – will significantly cut smog-forming emissions from industry and transportation, helping states meet the proposed standards.  EPA’s analysis of federal programs that reduce air pollution from fuels, vehicles and engines of all sizes, power plants and other industries shows that the vast majority of U.S. counties with monitors would meet the more protective standards by 2025 just with the rules and programs now in place or underway. Local communities, states, and the federal government have made substantial progress in reducing ground-level ozone. Nationally, from 1980 to 2013, average ozone levels have fallen 33 percent. EPA projects that this progress will continue.

The Clean Air Act provides states with time to meet the standards. Depending on the severity of their ozone problem, areas would have between 2020 and 2037 to meet the standards. To ensure that people are alerted when ozone reaches unhealthy levels, EPA is proposing to extend the ozone monitoring season for 33 states. This is particularly important for at-risk groups, including children and people with asthma because it will provide information so families can take steps to protect their health on smoggy days.

The agency is also proposing to strengthen the “secondary” ozone standard to a level within 65 to 70 ppb to protect plants, trees and ecosystems from damaging levels of ground-level ozone. New studies add to the evidence showing that repeated exposure to ozone stunts the growth of trees, damages plants, and reduces crop yield.  The proposed level corresponds to levels of seasonal ozone exposure scientists have determined would be more protective.

EPA will seek public comment on the proposal for 90 days following publication in the Federal Register, and the agency plans to hold three public hearings. EPA will issue final ozone standards by October 1, 2015.

To view the proposal: http://www.epa.gov/glo/

Categories: Ecological News

No more cetacean extinctions! It's our last chance to save the vaquita

The Ecologist Magazine - Thu, 11/27/2014 - 00:02
The 'vaquita', a small porpoise limited to a small area of Mexico's Gulf of California, is on the brink of extinction, writes Willie Mackenzie - its numbers reduced to around 100. But it's not too late to save it, by expanding a protected area and providing alternative livelihoods for local fishermen.
Categories: Ecological News

Breaking: EPA proposes tougher rules on smog-causing ozone, setting up clash with GOP.

Environmental Health News - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 19:30
The Obama administration on Wednesday announced plans to tighten restrictions on smog-causing ozone, a move that will address a major cause of respiratory illness for millions of Americans while also setting the stage for new clashes with industry and the Republican-controlled Congress.
Categories: Ecological News

Chemicals in sunscreen, aftershave may affect male fertility.

Environmental Health News - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 19:30
A new study suggests chemicals in sunscreen may impair men’s ability to father children, government scientists say, but other experts question whether the chemicals wound up in men’s urine from sunscreen or through another route.
Categories: Ecological News

EPA power plant mercury rule gets US Supreme Court review.

Environmental Health News - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 19:30
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide whether the Obama administration went too far with new power-plant pollution caps the government estimates will cost almost $10 billion a year.
Categories: Ecological News

Beijing considers permanent odd-even ban on vehicles after success of 'Apec blue'.

Environmental Health News - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 19:30
The Beijing municipal government will discuss permanently banning vehicles from the roads on alternating days based on their number plates, to reduce traffic and air pollution, after a relatively successful test drive earlier this month.
Categories: Ecological News

Duke Energy dumping 12 million tons of coal ash near Sanford trailer park.

Environmental Health News - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 19:30
Until this week, residents of a small trailer park off Colon Road in Sanford didn't know the old brick mine across the street could soon be a dump for millions of tons of potentially toxic coal ash.
Categories: Ecological News

Missouri approves 10,000-hog farm despite opposition from neighbors.

Environmental Health News - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 19:30
Opponents of a proposed large hog-breeding operation are considering their next step after the state approved an operating permit.
Categories: Ecological News

Judge rejects settlement in Kentucky coal mining case.

Environmental Health News - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 19:30
Kentucky environmental regulators are so understaffed they can no longer effectively enforce clean-water rules, Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip J. Shepherd ruled on Monday in a high-profile coal mining case.
Categories: Ecological News

How America’s Thanksgiving turkeys got so huge.

Environmental Health News - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 19:30
Thanksgiving, the most food-focused of American holidays, provides a hearty occasion for this reminder: The dominant fruits, vegetables, and animals in modern farming are products of highly unnatural selection.
Categories: Ecological News

More trouble for Tenneco.

Environmental Health News - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 19:30
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s announced Monday it has placed Tenneco in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program for “demonstrating indifference to its OSHA Act obligations to provide a safe and healthful workplace for employees.”
Categories: Ecological News

Obama to introduce sweeping new controls on ozone emissions.

Environmental Health News - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 19:30
The Obama administration is expected to release on Wednesday a contentious and long-delayed environmental regulation to curb emissions of ozone, a smog-causing pollutant linked to asthma, heart disease and premature death.
Categories: Ecological News

Ontario moves toward curbing pesticide blamed for bee deaths.

Environmental Health News - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 19:30
Ontario is moving closer to curbing a class of pesticides blamed for massive bee kills that endanger the pollination of crops and the environment. But farmers are infuriated by the move announced Tuesday by Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal to reduce the number of acres planted with neonicotinoid-coated corn and soybean seeds by 2017.
Categories: Ecological News

Kids' asthma, wheezing and bronchitis can be linked to unventilated gas stoves, Oregon researchers say.

Environmental Health News - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 19:30
As home cooks fire up their stoves for Thanksgiving, Oregon State University researchers would like parents who own gas stoves to keep this in mind: Using gas kitchen stoves without proper ventilation could be hazardous to children's respiratory health.
Categories: Ecological News

Canada reaches out to thalidomide victims.

Environmental Health News - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 19:30
Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose says she is prepared to meet with a group seeking long-term compensation for victims of the drug thalidomide. Nearly 100 victims, almost all in their early 50s, are still suffering the crippling effects of a federally approved drug their mothers took in the early 1960s.
Categories: Ecological News

Report sets out path to fracking in Maryland.

Environmental Health News - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 19:30
Capping three years of study, the O'Malley administration declared Tuesday that hydraulic fracturing for natural gas can be done safely in western Maryland, but only after tightening regulations to reduce air and water pollution and protect residents from well contamination, noise and other disruption associated with an anticipated drilling boom.
Categories: Ecological News

Canadian protesters defy authorities over Trans Mountain pipeline.

Environmental Health News - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 19:30
A proposed pipeline expansion that would transport tar sands oil through a park in British Columbia has unified Canadians from all walks of life in their opposition to the project — which they said does not respect public opinion and could endanger both land and sea.
Categories: Ecological News

26 killed in state-owned coal mine fire in Northeast China.

Environmental Health News - Wed, 11/26/2014 - 19:30
A coal mine fire killed 26 workers and injured 50 others in Northeast China's Liaoning province early Wednesday, according to the state-owned Liaoning Fuxin Coal Corporation.
Categories: Ecological News
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