Sunday, July 23, 2017

Clean air is everyone's right and responsibility.

The words “carbon footprint” evoke images of industrial factories spewing smog, vehicles idling in traffic, or the feelings of shame for participating in unsustainable air travel. The work of removing CO2 from Earth’s atmosphere is largely done by microorganisms in the oceans and by trees on land. However, issues like ocean acidification and mass deforestation jeopardize the planet’s ability to keep these global systems in check.
According to the United Nations, forest lands now cover less than 1/3rd of the Earth’s solid surface, and this number continues to decline. Forest fires exact a multiplied toll on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions, with the trees they destroy and remove from the carbon sink equation. Over the past two months, thousands of precious hectors of forests have been incinerated by more than 700 forest fires in the Canadian province of British Columbia (BC). The long-term increase of atmospheric CO2 is not the only negative impact that forest fires have on human life. Smoke from fires kill more than those who die from incineration. The forest fires in BC have resulted in numerous air quality warnings and pose a serious health risk for those with delicate respiratory systems. To learn the current conditions of the air quality where you live, visit:
Being carbon conscious is in the best interest of everyone’s health. Take the time to consider your actions that contribute to your carbon footprint, and most importantly, be fire smart by taking Smokey’s pledge.
Click the video link to watch Sally Aitken's escape through one of BC's 2017 wildfires

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Air Pollution in Spain

In Urban Europe Air pollution has become one of the leading causes of
premature deaths. According to the European Environment Agency, in the year 2013
Spain estimated 29,980 premature deaths due to air pollution. This number is a
significant decrease compared to the 33,200 deaths related to air pollution in the year
2012. These high numbers of air polluted related deaths are already uncomfortably large,
causing cities to consider alternatives in order to decrease the amount of people exposed
Pollution over Madrid, Spain
to such pollutants. Data collected in 2014 by the World Health Organization, of cities
across Europe determined that 85% of urban cities were being exposed to fine particulate
matter, found mainly in the burning of fossil fuels. Because of this we have seen an
increase in respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
Taking this into consideration, the European Environment Agency has been collecting
data regarding levels of air pollution in major cities in Europe and comparing them throughout the years. Showing that between 2000 and 2014, cities that were being monitored showed a decrease in air pollution levels due to the governments hand in
discovering a solution. The main example provided of efforts done in order to improve
air quality in highly polluted cities is seen in Madrid, Spain. The city banned non-
residents driving into the city, and lowered the speed limit when pollution levels were
getting too high; both solutions to decrease the amount of fossil fuels being burned within
the city limits.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Air Pollution Measurements in the United Arab Emirates

In 2015, to the shock of many, the UAE surpassed both China and India in PM2.5 levels, according to the World Bank’s “Little Green Data Book” (their annual report on global environmental indicators). P.M. 2.5 criteria measures minuscule airborne pollutants smaller than 2.5 microns. In 2015, The UAE’s air contained 80 micrograms of pollutants per cubic meter, compared to 73 microns in China and 32 in India. 

The UAE is the world’s eighth largest emitter of carbon dioxide per capita and is a prominent force in several industries such as cement manufacturing, power generation, desalination, etc. However, the largest contribution of PM2.5 happens to be the dust made of sand which is blown upward by construction and/or windstorms. UAE officials suggest that this skews the data, unfairly placing their country at the top of the list. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) gathers this data annually by combining satellite imagery, ground-level monitoring and atmospheric modelling to produce the PM2.5 numbers. Some believe this method should be revised, as it is unfair to countries with deserts. 

The 2017 issue of “The Little Green Data Book” places the UAE at 64 micrograms of pollutants per cubic meter, with China at 58 and India at 74. 


Friday, July 14, 2017

Air pollution struggle in Iran

One person dies every two hours in Tehran, Iran becasue of air pollution! In addition, the World Health Organization has stated that the 10 most polluted cities in the world are located in Iran! The issue is incraesing yearly and the overwhelmingly large number of motor vehicles transporting in the cities everyday, has stood out as one of the most important contributers. There are uninspected cars travelling in Iran, plus, there is non standard gasoline being used which both greatly add to the pollution. Often the pollution in major big cities including Tehran reaches a dangerous level which makes schools and some federal offices to close on some days. These factors do challenge people's health, especially children and elderly people. The government is trying to implement anti-pollution measures and signs agreements  with other countries regarding that. Increasing the number of electric cars and the vehicle inspection are other actions taking place.
The pictures here contrast a polluted day and a clean day in Tehran, Iran.

Jamaica, Trouble in Paradise?

 While thousands of tourists flock to Jamaica each year for relaxing, tropical vacations, most won’t see the heavy rates of deforestation, damage to the coral reefs, air pollution in the large cities, and even the various wastes that get discarded into the beautiful coastal waters.  Air pollution has been a significant, yet disregarded, issue for Jamaica in the last decade at least.  With high air contamination and poor air quality, physicians have noticed a significant worsening of medical problems in patients.  Many citizens blame the illegal burning of garbage and the high vehicle emission rates, which have been acknowledged by those with the power to change these things, yet, little progress has been made to control these issues.  At what point will the government finally decide enough is enough?

To read more about Jamaica’s environmental statistics, visit:

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

South Korea jumps the ranks of most polluted countries

At the beginning of 2017 as South Korean air quality continues to decrease, there are much larger issues that the country is more focused on; but should they? As tensions continue to rise between the North and South Korean Peninsula, there is not as much focus placed on other issues that actually are literally taking affect on the peninsula(more in the article). It's almost as if a blind eye is being turned on issues such as Air Pollution within the country considering how drastically the numbers have risen. South Korean air is now the third most unhealthy in the world, and as Government officials in the country have stated in the past that it is China pollutants making their way East to the peninsula; that is incorrect. South Korea's coal industry has sky rocketed as it is the leading energy source that the country utilizes.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Vietnam's issue of Air Pollution

Air pollution in Vietnam are at unhealthy levels according to one government study. Vietnam is a home to millions of motorbikes that buzz through major cities like Hanoi and Saigon. A study that took place from 2011 to 2015 found that Vietnam's air has become worse. Nitrogen dioxide concentration in Hanoi was measured at up to 1.3 times above the permitted levels. In Ho Chi Minh, the study found twice the permitted level.  Traffic and industrial activities are major sources of air pollution in Vietnam's major cities. In Ho Chi Minh, 750 motorcycles are registered every day., a team based in China with close ties to U.S diplomatic missions, ranked air in HCMC as "Unhealthy." Hanoi is home to 5.5 million individuals and 1.8 million motorbikes. The air in these two major cities contain dangerous levels of benzene and sulfur dioxide. Researches have also found dangerous microscopic dust known as PM10, which can potential cause lung cancer. The Vietnamese government's way of combating the rise of pollution is by installing a major and efficient public transportation system. At the heart of Vietnam's air pollution is dirty fuel. Companies in Vietnam have resisted purchasing higher quality fuel because it is more expensive. Vietnam is showing signs of awareness for a country with tightly controlled information.


Traffic in Frenetic HCMC, Vietnam from Rob Whitworth on Vimeo.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Thailand: Industrial Growth

Thailand has recently made the switch from being an agricultural nation to an industrialized one. With that shift comes pollution of all sorts. Recently the Thai government has called for an increase in industrialized production, which has many local communities wondering how the air they breathe will be affected. With Thailand having a warm and humid climate, air pollution tends to linger, especially around Bangkok. But its not just air pollution that has communities concerned, it is also Hazardous Waste and Heavy Metal Pollution that affects the land and streams, ultimately affecting the overall health of the population.


Bringing down the house: Brazil and Deforestation

Brazil is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful areas in the world; bright colors are abundant and dense, lush forests keep the country environmentally hydrated and aesthetically pleasing.

Unfortunately, the forests in which Brazil are so well known for face many threats. Home to one of the greatest forests, the Amazon Rainforest, the issue of deforestization is serious. Not only because one of Brazil's most majestic staples is being uprooted, but because a great deal of the world relies on the oxygen this forest produces. The Amazon is actually referred to as the "Lungs of the World."

The leading culprits in deforestation in Brazil include timber and farming industries. Consequently, the act of deforestation by these two industries have not only lead to the destruction of forests in Brazil, but have also lead to increased carbon dioxide emissions from machinery. Unfortunately, this problem is not at the forefront of the country's agenda. Brazil's efforts to protect its forests have diminished significantly. in March of 2017, Brazil cut its budget for enforcing rainforest laws by an astounding 51%, which is likely to be responsible for the 29% increase in deforestation last year.

At this rate, if the rate of deforestation continues, not only will Brazil continue to face animosity from other countries regarding their state of action (or lack thereof) but they will continue to contribute to harming one of the greatest sources for oxygen this world has.

To read more about the deforestation crisis, and what can be done to help, visit the Amazon Fund's website at

Oh, Canada!

Photo credit of tar sands facility in Fort McMurray, Alberta: Kris Krüg; CC BY 2.0
Canada’s worst kept dirty tar sands secret has really grown over the last decade to transform Earth’s largest-land based carbon sink (the Boreal Forest) into a massive carbon belching manufacturing wasteland. Bitumen extraction processing now scars hundreds of thousands of hectares of landscape with industrial pollutants, that are insufficiently stored in vast tailing ponds.

Countless migratory birds are killed annually upon landing in toxic cesspools, much of which were once their wetland breeding areas. These chemical lakes have also been found to leach carcinogenic bi-product compounds into surrounding freshwater sources, devastating aquatic life, caribou herds, and the indigenous populations who rely on the (now contaminated) food supply. Why then is industrial process continually permitted? Royal Oil.

For more information, visit: and please write to your federal representatives and ask them to tell the Canadian Government that this environmental destruction must stop!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

A Clean Future for Japan?

The history of pollution in Japan date’s back to the Meiji Period. The Ashio Copper Mine was linked as the first pollution case that occurred in Japan. After the World War II a large amount of toxin particles were released into the air that were caused by an increase in industrial manufacturing.Terrible pollution-related diseases, including four major diseases such as Minamata disease and Yokkaichi asthma, were triggered. According to Ministry of Environment (Government of Japan), the mid-1990's, Japan had the worlds fourth highest level of industrial carbon dioxide. In other words, Japan had a leading problem with air pollution that strongly linked to industrial factories around Japan.

Today, Japan is making efforts to strengthen their systems to track any PM2.5 (which causes air pollution) and help create a breathable environment for the population. For starters, a factory has been set up to monitor 24 hours of air pollution in several locations around Japan. An apparatus measures and analyzes the elements of PM2.5 of Microparticles. Previously, it was a more complex process to conduct by sending samples to two different locations. With advanced technology scientists are able to see results quicker. As Yusuke Mizuno (official who led the development of the system) said, "More detailed analysis can be conducted much more easily than with conventional methods." With Japan's progress in air pollution, it is good to hear the country is making efforts to protect their country from harmful toxins.  

For more information, check out what Japan's equipment is doing to help reduce air pollution:

Serbia's air quality below EU standards

Image result for serbia air pollution

I'm sad to say that my home country is not doing a very good job of keeping its air clean. Neglect combined with ecological and environmental protection issues have placed Serbia about a decade and a half or about 15 years behind the EU's regulations for ecological standards. However after the recent UN convention on climate change in November of 2016. Serbia has been doing more to meet the EU standards, but they still need to speed up the pace. For example Serbia has begun to introduce automatic measuring units that display air quality at any time, which enables them to intervene as soon as possible. However the fact that Serbia is not an EU state means they technically have no obligation to the EU standards for emission of hazardous gases. So only time will tell how much the Serbs will do to lower their emission.

link with more info:

Germany's Air Pollution Crisis Lead by Automakers

Germany is fighting one of their biggest air pollution wars against diesel cars. European governments previously promoted diesel cars as they produce less carbon dioxide than petroleum cars in efforts to curb climate change. However, it has become apparent that diesel vehicles are producing toxic nitric oxides. A report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) found nitrogen dioxide responsible for nearly 70,000 premature deaths in Europe in 2013. In Germany, the EEA attributed 10,610 premature deaths to the pollutant. The World Health Organization found an estimated 90% of EU citizens are exposed to some of the most harmful atmospheric pollutants at dangerous levels.

Stephan Weil, premier of Lower Saxony and member of Volkswagen's 20-strong supervisory board, said companies should implement measures in the short-term, adding: "Diesel is here to stay." August 2nd the transportation ministry will hold is first National Diesel Forum to work with the auto industry and regional governments to cut emissions.


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Air Pollution Linked to Asthma in Children

Researchers are finding that exposure to air pollution is having a negative impact on children living near sources of the pollution. In Pennsylvania, researcher Deborah Gentile is finding that of children living near sources of air pollution, like steel mills, and power stations, up to a third are experiencing asthma or asthma-like symptoms. In Allegheny County, the rate of children with asthma is almost twice the national rate.

The likely cause of this is the children’s exposure to PM 2.5, or particulate matter that is more than 2.5 microns in diameter. PM 2.5 is a byproduct of burning fossil fuels and is made up of thousands of different chemical components. These particles become embedded deep in the lungs and have been linked to health problems such as lung cancer, asthma attacks and even premature death.

Gentile also says that minority families and people of lower socioeconomic status are disproportionally effected by this problem as they cannot afford to live in places further away from these sources of pollution.