To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Short of a miracle, China residents take air pollution into their own hands


By Angela Meng, November 18, 2013

 Pigeons fly over the Forbidden City in Beijing, which is covered in thick smog.

With no quick solution to pollution in sight, people are inventing their own protection against dangerous smog.

A few weeks ago, Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde grabbed headlines with his “sky vacuum”, a device that generates an ion field to pull polluted particles down to the ground where they can be cleaned, revealing a patch of blue sky fresh above.

Rooosegaarde is not alone in his creative approach to combating dirty air. One of the most popular gadgets that debuted at the East China Fair early this year was an air purifier helmet. It hooks up to a portable air filtration system that secures at the wearer’s the waist like a fanny pack, and runs on lithium batteries which last for up to eight hours a charge.

“These inventions look silly but they are highlighting a deadly problem” says Beijing-based artist Matt Hope.

Hope built his own “breathing bicycle” out of IKEA products and junkyard finds. It works by putting the air filtration system – an ioniser – inside a garbage can and connecting it to a wheel powered generator, so that as he pedals, he breathes filtrated air through an attached helmet.

In the village of Banjiehe just an hour outside Beijing, farmer Tang Zhenping believes his invention can addresses the causes of pollution, not just its effects. He built a wind-powered vehicle with solar panels that can reach speeds of nearly 145km/h  and costs about 9,800 yuan (HK$12,405).
Around the world, inventions by engineers, artists, and hobbyists alike have taken their shot at bettering air quality. Peruvian company Tierra Nuestra debuted the Super Tree, a phone booth-like container that sucks in polluted air and cleans  it using thermodynamic pressure.

In Manila, some highways are covered with paint that acts like a pollution sponge. It “absorbs energy from sunlight and transforms ordinary water vapour into free radicals that can break down [nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide]  … air pollutants that come in contact with the paint’s surface”, reported Ecotech, a Philippine technology website. British professors Tony Ryan and fashion designer Helen Storey  came up with CatClo, a laundry detergent to bleach the nitrogen oxides that pollute the atmosphere.

But small scale projects don’t solve big problems.

“It’s more of an artistic response to draw attention to the problem rather than a long-term solution” Hope remarked.

“We need to move away from the symbolic value and make sure that these things actually work” Roosegaarde said.

“They are basically saying, prove it, show us how you can do it” said Roosegaarde. “My vision is that by mid-2014, I’ll walk into a park and it’ll be the cleanest public park in Beijing” he said.

Professor calls for green car tax breaks

 Bargain-loving Australians should be offered tax breaks and parking discounts for clean cars to cut potentially deadly air pollution in cities, an academic says.


November 18, 2013

Queensland University of Technology Professor Adrian Barnett believes politicians should take a lead in countering Australia's "complacent" attitude to the problem.

Better financial incentives to get people to buy cleaner electric and hybrid cars should be considered alongside new laws to keep trucks out of city centres in rush hour, he says.

"A lot of the technology is there. Politicians could do a lot of new things to encourage it," he told AAP.

"They could make tax a lot smaller for electric vehicles. If they did that, there would be a massive increase. Aussies love a bargain."

His comments come after the World Health Organisation (WHO) reclassified air pollution as a carcinogen in October, after new research showed its links to lung and bladder cancer.
Writing in the Medical Journal of Australia, he said the move should be a wake-up call for politicians.

The Queensland government has unveiled plans for a $5 billion Brisbane underground system for buses and trains linking Dutton Park and Bowen Hills by a 5.4-kilometre tunnel by 2021.
The project aims to remove 200 buses from inner-city streets.

Prof Burnett, from QUT's School of Public Health and Social Work, said the tunnel might reduce pollution but risked just shifting fumes to areas around the entrances and exits or any vents.

Boosting sales of electric and hybrid cars would be the best way to combat the pollution, with cheaper parking in government-owned car parks a good idea alongside tax breaks.

"We need action on specific dirty sites, but we also need action on common sources such as vehicles, which create most of the pollution in our cities."

Avoiding rush-hour journeys is the single biggest move drivers can make to improve air quality in the worst areas - usually city centres.


From Sylvia Plummer, November 17, 2013

In September, a petition on Change.org asked the Governor and the California Transportation Commission not to fund or build the SR-710 tunnel or freeway.   It was promoted primarily through SR-710-related Facebook pages and was successful in gathering over 600 signatures. 

The No 710 Action Committee urgently needs your signature on another petition.   It sends the message that we want the F7-X Tunnel removed from the EIR/EIS and that we have reviewed the history, purpose and need for the SR-710 North Corridor and support the development and implementation of a comprehensive 21st-century mobility and transportation alternative to the current limited and antiquated approach for the SR-710 North Extension.  It tells the recipients that we recommend a multimodal approach that may include implementation of Transportation System Management/Transportation Demand Management (TSM/TDM), Bus Rapid Transit and Light Rail individually or in combination, but DOES NOT INCLUDE a surface freeway or tunnel connecting the 710 and 210 Freeways. 

This petition will be delivered, via email, to: the Governor, California Transportation Commission (CTC), California State Transportation Agency, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG).  With the CTC meeting in Southern California in December and the EIR/EIS process entering the last six months or so before the draft EIR/EIS report is released, we need to mobilize in full force!

Please sign the petition and leave your comments.  Then, help us reach our goal of gathering 5,000 signatures (or more!) by urging your family, friends, neighbors and any groups you belong to to do the same.  We have included instructions for doing this below.  You can just copy and paste these instructions into an email and send it to all your email contacts.  Let's really make use of the power of the internet and the worldwide web by spreading the word and encouraging our contacts to do the same!  We are recruiting all supportive groups and organizations to assist in gathering signatures, but we really need you to help us extend our outreach.


1.  Go to www.no710.com.
2.  Click on the words "Sign the Petition" that appear in the yellow oval.  This will take you to a page that shows all the   officials who will be contacted each time the petition is signed.
3.  Click on the words "Sign the Petition" in the yellow box on this page and you will taken to the petition at Change.org.
4.  Fill in the information at the right to sign the petition, and if you wish, leave your comments on why this is important to you. 
5.  Finally, click on the red box that says "Sign".

Air pollution link to early childhood pneumonia


By Kirsty Oswald, November 18, 2013

medwireNews: European research shows that exposure to elevated levels of air pollutants is associated with an increased risk for pneumonia before the age of 3 years, and particularly in the first year of life.

However, the researchers did not find strong evidence of a link between pollution and other respiratory infections, including otitis media and croup.

Joachim Heinrisch (German Research Centre for Environmental Health, Munich) and colleagues analyzed data from 10 birth cohorts, as part of the European Study of Cohorts of Air Pollution Effects (ESCAPE) project.

Their data included 16,059 children and the cumulative incidence of pneumonia before the age of 3 years was 1.5–7.9%, of otitis media was 21.8–50.0%, and of croup was 10.6–12.9%.

The team found that, after adjustment for confounders, the odds for pneumonia were significantly greater with increasing exposure to several pollutants, including NO2, NOx, particulate matter up to 10 µm (PM10), and coarse PM (PM2.5-10). Additionally, increasing proximity to the nearest street or major streets was also associated with the likelihood of pneumonia.

However, the only other significant association found was between otitis media and NO2, for which the odds increased 1.09-fold for every 10 µg/m3 increase.

Additionally, the authors report that the association between pneumonia and air pollutant exposure was particularly strong during the first year of life. For example, every 5 µg/m3 increase in PM2.5 was associated with a 4.06-fold increased odds for pneumonia in the first year of life, and a nonsignificant 2.65-fold increased odds in the second. Indeed, in the second year of life, only NO2 and NOx exposure were significantly related to pneumonia risk, compared with all measures of pollution in the first year.

“This finding could highlight a unique period of susceptibility when children are at increased risk of respiratory infections due to air pollution,” comment Heinrisch et al in Environmental Health Perspectives.

They conclude: “Policies aimed at reducing air pollution may be successful in reducing the overall burden of pneumonia in early childhood.”

medwireNews (www.medwirenews.com) is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2013

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Car companies need to print pollutant levels on all publications


By Sharon Udasin, November 17, 2013

Car companies need to print pollutant levels on all publications

The Jerusalem District Court last week rejected the petition of two car companies that had been fined by the Environmental Protection Ministry for failing to provide transparent pollution level information. Each of the companies, Meir and Shlomo Car Import, had received fines of NIS 440,600 for neglecting to publish their air pollution data in their online advertisements, as required by law.

"We are in an era in which apart from immediate financial considerations, each person takes into account the pollution caused to the environment and the health damages caused to his or her family," said Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz. Whether on the Internet or in print, all car advertisements must indicate their emissions levels, according to the Clean Air Law, the ministry explained.

Fuel cell cars from Toyota, Honda, Hyundai set to debut at auto shows

Toyota, Honda and Hyundai will debut fuel cell cars this week amid regulators' push for zero-emission vehicles, with all three in showrooms by 2015. Price and few fuel stations present a challenge.


By Jerry Hirsch, November 17, 2013

 Toyota demonstrates support system for hydrogen fuel cell cars.
 An employee at the Hydro Shuttle hydrogen station holds a refueling hose during a demonstration last month at a Toyota media briefing in Tokyo.

For decades, hydrogen fuel cell cars have been the automotive technology of tomorrow: the big idea, for someday far in the future.

No longer. At auto shows in Los Angeles and Tokyo this week, Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Hyundai Motor Co. will introduce hydrogen-powered cars. Hyundai's will reach U.S. showrooms next year, while the other models will begin selling a year later.

It amounts to "a coming out party for hydrogen," said John Krafcik, chief executive of Hyundai Motor America.

Toyota's car, being unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show, "has the same potential as the first Prius," said Bill Fay, general manager of Toyota's U.S. sales arm. Fuel cell offerings from the two other automakers will debut in L.A.

In a little more than a decade, the Prius has become America's favorite hybrid and California's bestselling vehicle.

The global automakers believe cars powered by fuel cells represent the best path to building the zero-emission vehicles now demanded by regulators in California and many other states and, increasingly, by consumers. Using hydrogen to create electricity, fuel cells combine the best of electric and gasoline cars without the downsides, the automakers say. They drive like electric cars — quietly, with tons of off-the-line power — but can be refueled just like gasoline-powered cars.
"Hydrogen vehicles allow you to be lean and green with the same range as an internal combustion engine," said Thilo Koslowski, an analyst at Gartner Inc.

The challenge: Producing them cheaply enough to entice consumers and building enough hydrogen fueling stations to keep them on the road. Initially, the cars are expected to cost more than comparable gasoline-powered and electric vehicles, though they probably will qualify for government incentives to buyers. The sticker prices are expected to come down if automakers can sell the cars in volume.
None of the automakers have revealed prices yet. The cars are likely to be offered first as three-year leases.
Even before these fuel cell cars hit dealer lots, they are causing a schism in the green car community, as advocates of electric and hydrogen vehicles compete for limited government funds for fueling stations and incentives needed to jump-start sales, Koslowski said.
Elon Musk, a technology tycoon and Tesla Motors' chief executive, disparaged fuel cell cars, using an obscenity to describe the vehicles and calling them a marketing ploy by the mainstream auto companies.
"Hydrogen is quite a dangerous gas," said Musk, who also runs SpaceX, the rocket company formally known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp. "It's suitable for the upper stage of rockets, but not for cars."
Not true, says Matt McClory, one of the principal engineers of the Toyota fuel cell vehicle. And he has a bullet to prove it. In safety tests, Toyota's engineers shot rifle bullets at its high-pressure hydrogen tanks to see if they would explode or catch fire.
"The smaller-caliber bullets would just bounce off the tank," McClory said. "It took a 50-caliber armor-piercing bullet to penetrate the tank, and it then just left a hole and the gas leaked out."
Hyundai has set its entire car ablaze without triggering an explosion. When the temperatures rise high enough, the hydrogen vents in a flair pattern through a pressure valve but burns off quickly.
Gasoline cars can be fully engulfed in flames when their tanks break, the automakers noted, and in the last few months three Tesla vehicles have burned when in severe accidents.
Still, this "Hindenburg" perception — referring to the 1937 disaster that consumed a German airship in a hydrogen fireball — is something automakers will have to tackle, said Mike O'Brien, Hyundai's vice president of product and corporate planning.
"The car meets the same crash standards of any other car we sell," O'Brien said. "But only miles on the road, and people in the seats of these vehicles, will overcome those perceptions."
The cars are likely to get those miles because of California's stringent environmental regulations, which require 15% of the new cars sold in the state by 2025 to be zero-emission vehicles. An additional nine states have adopted the same sales goals, with a target of having 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025. That's what's behind the automakers' efforts to bring hydrogen autos to the U.S. market now.
All three of the vehicles to be introduced this week will have a range of 300 miles or more, compared with about 75 miles for most battery-using electric cars and more than 200 for the high-end Tesla Model S, which starts at $71,070. The fuel cell cars drive like normal vehicles and have about the same amount of interior space as vehicles of similar size. They take three to five minutes to fuel up. The fuel nozzle locks into the car to prevent hydrogen leaks but is otherwise similar to a gasoline pump.