Air pollution

The air is nasty in Seattle today. A white smog has settled all over the city, as far as the eye can see.

But this is rather unusual. Prevailing winds have swept in wildfire smoke. (This happened last year, too, and it was all Canada's fault.) Typically, Seattle's air is pretty clean, despite the city having some of the worst traffic in the nation.

That's not just because Seattle is crawling with Prius-driving environmentalists. No, air quality is very good pretty much everywhere in the United States. This fact stands in stark contrast to utterly absurd claims in the media, such as blaming air...

An article published in Science on volatile chemicals has predictably entered the mainstream media featuring concerns about how we are polluting our planet more and more with household products. As is frequently the case, the media shares that portion that contributes to the narrative of society despoiling nature and leaves out the rest of the story.

Background

Fossil fuels are responsible for the human-made chemicals in our atmosphere, some coming from our fuels and others from fuels turned into other products, like paint, nail polish, industrial adhesives, or hair products. These non-fuel sources, referred to collectively as volatile chemical products contain volatile organic chemicals, VOCs, often as solvents. These compounds evaporate over time into...

From the CityLab website:

"Through original reporting, sharp analysis, and visual storytelling, CityLab informs and inspires the people who are creating the cities of the future—and those who want to live there."

As you will see, the above statement isn't terribly accurate. Let's see if we can come up with a something more accurate:

"Through imaginary and/or deceiving reporting, innuendo, shameless manipulation, and visual storytelling, all of which is absolutely devoid of scienceCityLab misinforms and inspires the people...

It doesn't matter how bad or wildly untrue an idea might be; it is a near certainty that one can find an academic somewhere who is willing to embrace it. Alternative medicine, AIDS denialism, Holocaust denialism, communism -- all of these find a welcoming home within the ranks of academia.

The latest bad idea -- admittedly, not nearly as bad as the aforementioned -- comes from Smith College history professor Daniel Gardner, who believes that the U.S. should learn from China about air pollution. In an article for Project Syndicate, he makes the case that a nation with some of the cleanest air in the world can learn from a nation...

Every so often, the media likes to warn us that we're all dying from air pollution.

Headlines like, "Air Pollution 'Kills 7 Million People a Year'" are common and repeated like a morose version of the childhood game "Telephone." Predictably, that leads to calls for tighter environmental regulations, and anyone who disagrees is labeled an Earth-hating, cancer-loving industry shill.

Now a team of researchers from the University of Chicago has created a map that depicts the average number of years of life per person that could be saved if countries adopted the...

There is a theoretical relationship between a nation’s wealth and the amount of pollution it emits.

Because a poor country has little manufacturing and few power plants, pollution is low. As the nation develops, perhaps by burning fossil fuels to produce electricity and operating manufacturing facilities to generate exports, it becomes wealthier. At the same time, however, it pollutes more than it ever has before.

Eventually, as the country becomes even wealthier, the people demand a cleaner environment. What was once a luxury (clean air and pure water) is demanded as a right. As a result, new regulations are enforced, cleaner technologies are implemented, and pollution decreases.

This pattern, known as the...

It's a given that the vitamins are necessary for life; but over the years there have been efforts to demonstrate that they also hold almost magical properties with respect to various diseases and conditions — think Linus Pauling with his theories on vitamin C and cancer or the attempt to show that beta-carotene could ameliorate the effects of smoking on lung cancer (neither of which stood up to scrutiny). And more recently, vitamin D has been seen as a candidate for miracle ingredient — this hasn't panned out either, as we explained here. Now we've become aware that several B vitamins are being tested to see if they can prevent the effects of air pollution on the cardiovascular system.

The most recent...

Inside Science reported last week on a presentation at the American Economic Association by Emilia Simeonova with the entrancing title of Congestion Pricing and Children’s Health. New York City ranks 39th in the world, after our fellow cities of Los Angeles (10th) and San Francisco (31st) regarding traffic congestion, at least based on travel times.

Asthma the world’s most common disease for children is not completely understood. As the World Health Organization...

A new economic claim from the American Lung Association of California regarding Zero Emission Vehicles and their potential health benefits has us all living in an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show.  

But, their statement goes way beyond,"You get a car, you get a car, you get a car!"  

Their analysis postulates that a big push in the usage of Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs) will allow Americans to save billions of dollars in health costs each year, along with thousands of lives. Unfortunately, that's a promise not even Oprah could make happen. 

A Zero Emission Vehicle is a vehicle that directly produces no harmful emissions - some don't even...

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In the midst of China's smog-ridden Beijing lies a breath of fresh air -- and it comes in the form of a bottle. Vitality Air is selling bottled air to Chinese consumers, and the Canadian company is making a killing.

Beijing's...