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UC Davis study says it found source of air pollutants
Researchers at UC Davis have established, for the first time, a link between toxic substances that pollute the air and what causes them.
The research, announced Monday by the California Air Resources Board and the Electric Power Research Institute, holds the potential to better regulate sources of air pollution – an issue of great import to the asthma-plagued Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys.
“People have looked at direct emissions from sources – like taking things right out of tailpipes and out of other sources,” said Anthony Wexler, director of the Air Quality Research Center at UC Davis, who conducted the study with fellow UC Davis professor Kent Pinkerton.
“What distinguishes us is that we’re actually sampling right from the atmosphere in the way we breathe,” Wexler said. “Because you don’t put your mouth up against a tailpipe.”
Establishing a picture of what toxic brew is in the atmosphere and what sources it originates from, plus how those chemicals react, is key to fine-tuning environmental regulation, as well as the costs borne from it, said Will Barrett, policy manager with the American Lung Society.
“The findings are significant in that they underscore the importance of controls on things like wood burning and transportation sources of the most harmful particles that affect the Valley,” said Barrett.
“This is especially important for the Central Valley since it is facing some of the more daunting air quality challenges in the nation, particularly due to fine-particulate pollution,” Barrett said.
Wexler said the research is seen as a tool for regulatory agencies. “This was one of my objectives – to help regulators figure out which sources to regulate so that we’re primarily regulating sources that have a high toxicity and not so much the sources of low toxicity,” he said.
Someday, the research may have an effect on mitigating asthma rates.
An estimated 11.9 percent of Californians report that they have been diagnosed with asthma at some point in their lives, compared to the national average of 10.1 percent, according to California Air Resources Board data.
The UC Davis research sampled air in Fresno during four weeks in the summer of 2008 and four during the winter of 2009. Mice were exposed to the samples of toxic particulate matter that were captured in order to establish what effect the particles had on their lungs.
The research found that in summer the culprits causing the most toxic air pollution were vehicle emissions and the use of charcoal briquets. Biomass burning for winter heating and vehicle emissions were identified as the worst culprits in the winter.
The recent evolution of instruments known as single particle mass spectrometers made the study possible. Those instruments analyze the composition of chemicals in the atmosphere and 10 of them were used in the study.
“That let us look at the chemical composition of these particles very quickly,” Wexler said.
Though promising, Wexler said, the research is preliminary.
“We need more studies – this is the first time anyone has done anything like this. Other people need to do similar studies, using the same instrumentation, and in other cities to make sure the results are robust,” he said. “Because you’re not going to make any big regulatory moves based on one experiment.”
By DAWN WOTAPKA and ROBBIE WHELAN
Fire Magic’s new Echelon grill
Fire Magic’s new Echelon grill is a high-tech smoker, rotisserie oven and barbecue all in one. Unlike many grills, which are purely gas-powered, the Echelon is combination gas and electric. The main grill lights using a hot-surface ignition system, much like the way a clothes dryer turns on, rather than the usual pilot light. Price: $7,385
Interesting Health Quiz from Parade Magazine.
by Colleen Oakley
[Illustration by: Chip Wass]
Question # 8: True or false: Artificial gas-log fireplaces are typically safer than wood-burning fireplaces.
Answer: Several studies have found that natural wood smoke contains at least five known human carcinogens. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, you can make it less harmful by burning hardwood, such as ash or beech, which emits lower levels of damaging particles compared with softwood like pine.
Click here to see the entire quiz online:
have launched the Great American Things holiday gift collection.
A collection of 48 products including the Fire Magic Echelon Diamond E790, that are made in the USA and certified “damn good” by Esquire. The collection is featured in the Esquire December issue and on the Made Collection website. See the complete collection and the specific product profile atMadeCollection.com The product description was written by grilling guru and Esquirecontributor Steven Raichlen (you’ll recall we provided a Fire Magic Echelon Diamond for his BBQ University class)
Rose Diamond Nugget Shown (Model: GLD-R)
The new shape in contemporary alternatives is the new Diamond Nugget. With a unique look, unlike any other, Real Fyre’s icy Clear Diamond Nuggets set the standard in contemporary chic. These crystal-like oversized nuggets radiate a clean, modern feel and with their highly polished edges they give the appearance of melting chunks of ice in a sea of flame.
Diamond Nuggets can be used with any Real Fyre or Outdoor Campfyre burner system- natural or propane, vented or vent-free. Nuggets are available in a alb, a 7½lb, or a 10lb. bag, or a 40lb. bucket.