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Engineering degree-Returned to Africa/Europe water and multimedia
NC air pollution consulting company (1992) RTP is the U.S. EPA center for air pollution
As an air pollution consultant I have traveled to other countries to study solutions they have come up with and problems with which they continue to struggle.
So why is air pollution important
When I first moved to NC , I had an opportunity to work closely with one of the EPA’s branch chiefs John OC
One time while waiting for a flight I asked him why he thought air pollution was important
water -you consume 2 lts per day but you breath 14,000 lts = 20 queen sized water bed
Also the tissue used in digestive system is designed to block chemicals from entering your system while lung tissue is very different as it facilitates gas transfer so in many ways it is more porous than your digestive track. (picture of a lung)
You have to remember that this was all new territory when Nixon created the EPA in 1970 – there were regulations developed prior to the EPA in fact some of the earliest air pollution rules were developed in 1955, but things didn’t really start to really happen until 1980s.
First the EPA identified 6 pollutants that because they were emitted in fairly large amounts had substaintial impacts on public health.
Next the EPA looked at compounds that may be emitted in smaller amounts but could have high impacts on health due to their toxicity.
And lastly the EPA is starting to look at GHGs which have more of a global impact.
So lets start out wit the 6 criteria pollutants
These can have impacts on health or economic impacts such as forest decline or oxidation of building materials.
But inorder to study these polluants you need technology to detect their concentrations in the environment and a network to monitor these concentrations.
Next you needed to study at what concentrations health and environmental impacts occurred. This would allow you to set an ambient standard
Once you had a ambient testing network in place you could determine where the ambient standards were not being meet.
These are called non attainment areas
If you have counties that are classified as nonattainment, you have to develop a state implementation plan (SIP)
Develop emission inventory to determine the sources that have the greatest emissions and possibly candidates for control
Consider available control technologies that are economically viable
These technologies could be very specific such as requiring the use of auto refinishing paints with low emissions or programs that encourge use of bikes to reduce car traffic.
Develop targets for facilities or counties to meet over the years to bring the county into compliance
This could be implemented through voluntary programs or through state air pollution permits
This is interesting approach because it allows states to develop a plan appropriate for their needs
Note that the EPA reviews each SIP to ensure that it is reasonable and periodically revisits the state to determine if the plan is working
Stationary sources such as a factory need a air quality permit
This could be simple registration for facilities that emit few pollutants
State operating permits for facilities that emit more pollutants but nothing that triggers federal requirements
Or it can be what is referred to as a Title V permit, which is issued if a facility is considered a major source of pollution.
Air pollution permits can have special requirements for facilities that operate in a nonattainment county to help the state reduce emissions and get the county in compliance with criteria pollutant standards
In addition to SIPs, the EPA has a large number of voluntary programs that encourage new technologies.
I am sure some of you have seen some of these around such as energy STAR – which shows the actual energy consumption of appliances before you make a purchase
My office supports the CMOP and LMOP programs, these programs encourage coal mines and landfill operators to collect methane gas and used it generate electricity which they use in their own operation or sell back to the electric grid.
We also support the SmartWay which encourages shippers to use the most efficient methods to move their products to markets.
One of my favorites is the green racing initiative, which encourages racing teams to use new automotive technologies and fuels in racing. Periodicially there are races where teams are evaluated not only on how well they did in the race but they are given points for using biofuels, new engine configurations, or control devices.
So everything I have mentioned up to this point is mostly focused on controlling criteria pollutants, but as I mentioned earlier there are air pollutants that are emitted in smaller amounts but can also have significant impact on health.
Actually the Clean Air Act Amendment of 1990 identified 188 HAPs
HAPs get on the list if they have:
Carcinogentic Immune system effects Reproductive effects Respiratory effects
This list is constantly tweaked with compounds being removed or speciated to identify the most toxic species.
The EPA collects a lot of data from a variety of sources to assess the impact that HAPs have on public health.
As you can see in this mapping of Benzene emissions
Benzene is fairly toxic organic compound – 5 sided ring.
It is emitted from a variety of sources such as automobiles, refineries, many chemical plants.
As you can see these industries are not uniformly spread across the country they are clustered often in communities that have a large portion of their population below the poverty line - these communities tend to have little political clout, but recently state and federal agencies have classifies these areas as environmental justice communities and monitor local health conditions carefully.
Originally the EPA tried to regulate HAPs by looking at one HAP at a time, actually they started out with Benzene found that it was impossible to set a single benzene standard - because it was emitted from so many different sources, the controls were so different.
So the EPA took a new approach instead of regulating each pollutant they would look at the industries that were the biggest emitters and develop standards for each industry that were appropriate for each industry.
As you can see the EPA has been busy setting and from time to time revising these standards, all together about 250 process specific standards have been developed. In some cases these standards can be use of Low HAP fuels or feed stock or changes in operation to reduce emissions or application of a control device to capture the HAP.
Sometimes these approaches co-control emissions, for example a control device that captures VOCs would often control all organic compounds or something that captures PM could control all metals associated with PM emissions.
GHG is the latest set of pollutants the EPA is authorized to control – In hindsight it probably should have been one of the first. Sort of building upon the co-control point I made in the last slide
As you can see in this slide most GHG emissions comes from combustion of fuels to produce energy , so if we found ways to burn less energy we would emit less GHGs, but we would also emit less criteria pollutants and HAPs.
I probably should point out that Nox is the exception, there are situations (Such as jet engines) where improvements in combustion tends to mean the engines are operating at higher temperatures, air that feeds the engines contrain nitrogen and at high temperatures forms nitrogen oxides., but there are many ways to control Nox – So not really a show stopper.
Making things more energy efficient means we spend less on fuel, our industries have higher profits or sell products more cheaply and we are less dependent on foreign oil.
So given the system that we have in place does it work – are emissions going up or down?
As you can see in this graph we are doing pretty well emissions are generally going down even though we are producing more, traveling more, have more people and consume more energy.
The exception obviously GHGs as they are most closely correlated to energy use.
Lets look at specific pollutants
Over the years we have been able to remove a lot of VOCs from products that reduce emissions,
The same is true for lead – actually the biggest reduction came when we switched to low lead fuel and even thought the auto and fuel manufactures fought this for years claiming that it would shorten engine life. The opposite happened. Where it was unusual for a car to hit 100,000 miles it is now the minimum many cars can get two or three times that amount.
Also fuel switching from high sulfur coal to NG has helped SO2 emissions.
CO was reduced through widespread application of catalytic converters.
PM2.5 is a new addition to the list and going to be one of the hardest to control, but again it is more directly linked to health problems as they can penetrate more deeply into the lungs and it has recently been linked to climate change – specifically the creation of tornadoes.
This is a good slide as you can see how the EPA’s monitoring network has expanded over the years
And also how significantly SO2 emissions have been reduced.
Still 1/3 of people live in a county that is classified as nonattainment – usually urrban counties.
Again I want to point out the importance of PM2.5
There are relatively few HAP hotspots again mostly in urban areas or heavily industrialized zones.
Not sure what is going on in Alaska.
And as alluded to earlier GHGs are on the increase.
But this is our newest challenge and we are in the early phases of emission reduction process.
In fact we are sort of at the first step with the GHG reporting rule.
Any source that emits more than 25,000 tons of GHG need to report their emissions EPA has developed detailed instruction for 40 industry groups how they should estimate their emissions.
Prior to this rule each state developed their own emission inventory which lead to big differences between states – California has a great inventory while Texas has never inventoried their sources.
The inventorying of emission sources is necessary to get more detailed information about the sources so appropriate approaches can be developed to control emissions.
But it doesn’t take an environmental scientist to realize that many of the best options are going to have a fuel conservation component
I just like this slide as it exemplifies by my European counterparts are perplexed by the US position on GHGs.
1960 there were 3 billion people - developing world 2 billion
2012 there are 7 billion people (133% growth) - developing world 6 billion.
2050 there will be 9 billion people – developing world 7 billion
Increase demand for the products and lifestyle of the western world
Currently there are 800 million cars operating world wide
If we look at China the average commuter in Pejing has a 5 hour commuter every day
A couple of summers ago China has a traffic jam that was 100 miles long and took 11 days to clear
But what will it be like in 2050 where it is projected that there will be 2-4 billion cars
The big question: can we develop our green technologies and sustainable lifestyles quickly enough to save the world.
I think so, but it needs leaders, thinkers and doers at all of levels and in all countries.
So how do we protect ourselves
Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs)
Ambient criteria pollutant
[final rule cite]
Averaging Time Level Form
Carbon Monoxide primary
8-hour 9 ppm
Not to be exceeded more than once per
1-hour 35 ppm
Lead primary and
Rolling 3 month average 0.15 μg/m3 (1) Not to be exceeded
Nitrogen Dioxide primary 1-hour 100 ppb 98th percentile, averaged over 3 years
Annual 53 ppb (2) Annual Mean
Ozone primary and
8-hour 0.075 ppm (3) Annual fourth-highest daily maximum 8-hr
concentration, averaged over 3 years
Particulate PM10 primary and
Annual 15 μg/m3 annual mean, averaged over 3 years
Particulate PM2.5 24-hour 35 μg/m3 98th percentile, averaged over 3 years
24-hour 150 μg/m3 Not to be exceeded more than once per
year on average over 3 years
Sulfur Dioxide primary 1-hour 75 ppb (4)
99th percentile of 1-hour daily maximum
concentrations, averaged over 3 years
secondary 3-hour 0.5 ppm Not to be exceeded more than once per year
State Implementation Plans
Standard Area Attainment Status
High Point, NC
Clean Diesel Campaign
Clean Construction USA
Clean Ports USA
Clean School Bus USA
Coal Combustion Products Partnership (C2P2)
Coalbed Methane Outreach Program (CMOP)
Combined Heat and Power Partnership
Community-Based Childhood Asthma Programs
Design for the Environment
Environmental Technology Verification Program
Green Power Partnership
Green Racing Initiative
Green Suppliers Network
High GWP Partnership Programs
Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP)
Mobile Air Conditioning Partnership
Natural Gas STAR Program
Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program
SmartWay Transport Partnership
Voluntary Aluminum Industrial Partnership
Changes in life style to reduce
energy consumption and
Smart growth measures
◦ Easier to integrate alternative energy
◦ Easier to provide public transportation
◦ Reduced passenger car VMT
◦ Encourage walking and bike riding
◦ Better linkage with community
We are able to reduce emissions while
still sustaining growth
GHG challenges can be addresses
with available technologies to make
US businesses more competitive
Sustainable cities can be developed
that reduce fuel consumption and
improve quality of life