Showing posts with label pollution. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pollution. Show all posts

Monday, January 27, 2014

Polluted Scotland

Friends of the Earth Scotland has published league tables which they claimed identify Scotland's most polluted streets.

Hope Street in central Glasgow is named as the area with the most serious nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution problem in the country. High levels of NO2 are linked to asthma and other respiratory problems.

Market Street in Aberdeen is claimed to be the worst in Scotland for particulate matter pollution (PM10). Health experts say long-term exposure to air pollution caused by particulates is linked to a higher risk of heart attack.

Dr Richard Dixon, director of FOE Scotland, said the research showed that air pollution was also a threat to health in smaller towns and villages. "We have air pollution problems in all of our big urban areas. Action is long overdue. We still haven't met health protection targets which we were supposed to meet in 2005 and 2010. But there are some surprising places in the results as well. For example, we're missing health targets in Crieff, in Perth, and even in small villages in some parts of West Lothian and North Lanarkshire. It's taken us a decade to talk about it, but do very little, and we need to see much more action if we're going to solve the problem and give ourselves the clean air we deserve."

Friday, July 12, 2013

breathing is bad for you

More than two million deaths occur globally each year as a direct result of air pollution from human activity, scientists have said.  

2.1 million people die after inhaling fine sooty particles called PM 2.5s generated by diesel engines, power plants and coal fires. Another 470,000 are thought to be killed by high levels of ozone, created when vehicle exhaust gases react with oxygen.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Still Auld Reekie

The number of Edinburgh streets affected by transport pollution has increased.

There are now an additional six miles of streets that have been deemed officially polluted in the capital. Tourist areas Princes Street, George Street, most of the Royal Mile and the Grassmarket are all now included. Gorgie Road, London Road and some of Easter Road also make up the additional six miles of polluted streets.

Dr Richard Dixon, Friends of the Earth Scotland's director, said: "Pollution from cars, vans, buses and lorries are still making the capital's air bad for our health...”

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


EU legislation to protect the marine environment which bans the dumping of waste at sea.

Minutes from an internal Ministry of Defence committee - released as part of a Freedom of Information request - note a discussion on the interpretation of the OSPAR convention on waste dumping. Members concluded that they could avoid breaching the legislation by saying that Depleted Uranium cannon shells were "placed" not "dumped" in the sea. 6,700 shells have been fired from the range, containing nearly 30 tonnes of DU whih is toxic and radioactive and has been linked to increases in cancers and birth defects in Iraq, where it has been used as a weapon. It has also been linked to health concerns among members of UK armed forces exposed to the shells.

Its not what you say but how you say it !!!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A capital welcome

25 million people use Edinburgh Waverley station annually. Hundreds work there eachday and thousands pass though it daily

Exhaust fumes from trains and taxis, coupled with toxic dust kicked up by construction works, are endangering the health of commuters, tourists and workers – particularly those with asthma, lung or heart conditions, experts say.

 Scientists measured levels of nitrogen dioxide, a gas emitted by vehicle exhausts that damages the lungs, blood and immune system, at four locations around the concourse. They found average levels varying from 205 to 304 micrograms per cubic metre, compared with the annual average "air quality standard" of 40 required by European law. The concentrations of nitrogen dioxide in the station were four to six times higher than in the surrounding streets.

 Scientists also found high levels of tiny particles known as PM10s, which inflame lung tissue and increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. They were nearly twice as high as the air quality standard, and up to 10 times higher than in nearby streets.

 Highly toxic diesel pollutants known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, were four times higher than the relevant air quality standard, according to the report. They are blamed for causing cancers.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

North Sea Spills its secrets

Oil companies operating in the North Sea have been fined for oil spills on just seven occasions since 2000, even though 4,123 separate spills were recorded over the same period, the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) has confirmed. In total, 1,226 tonnes of oil were spilt into the North Sea between 2000 and 2011. (A tonne of crude oil is broadly equivalent to seven barrels, or, more precisely, 1,136 liters)

Total fines resulting from prosecutions between 2000 and 2011 came to just £74,000 and no single oil company had to pay more than £20,000. Two companies received fines of £20,000: BP, for causing 28 tones of diesel to spill into the sea in 2002 from the Forties Alpha platform, and, a year later, Total E&P, for causing six tones of diesel to enter the sea during a transfer between fuel tanks on the Alwyn North platform. The smallest fines over this period were those imposed on two companies, Venture North Sea Oil and Knutsen OAS Shipping, of £2,000 each, after 20 tonnes of crude oil was spilt during a tanker transfer on the Kittiwake platform.

Vicky Wyatt, a Greenpeace campaigner, said: "A few grand is not even a slap on the wrist for companies who pocket millions of pounds every hour...It's both staggering and wrong that some of these companies are now also drilling in the fragile and pristine Arctic, where a similar oil leak would be catastrophic."

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Getting back the land

Around 60% of Glaswegians live within 500m of derelict land, according to a new survey – the highest percentage of any local authority in Scotland.

That can be bad for their health, according to Professor Juliana Maantay, Fulbright Visiting Professor at the Mackintosh School of Architecture, as many derelict areas – she calls them dismissed lands – are contaminated post-industrial sites. "Very often the levels of vacant and derelict land coincide with the worst health. For example, in the poorest areas, one fifth of babies are of low birth weight, and that correlates with vacant land." she explained, although adding "That is not to say that the vacant land is causing the bad health, but there is no doubt that contaminated land is not good to live near."

Her survey identified 1,300 hectares of "dismissed" lands in the city which are contaminated or need some kind of remediation, on 925 sites.

Empty land can provide other ecological services, she adds, including  urban agriculture projects and community gardens, natural areas and recreational space for surrounding communities. "Contaminated sites need to be cleaned up but they can have real potential."

"Giving local communities a say is anathema to some planners. But the way you get community to buy into something is if you allow them to have an input. People in these communities have lived with this terrible land for long enough. They should get some of the benefit too,"
she says.

Friday, April 13, 2012


It all began like a good disaster film. The gas alarm sounded and the emergency evacuation started. Only a small contingent stayed behind, labouring to plug the leak. Having failed to do so after hours of trying, they turned off all the machinery and electricity and fled the platform too. When the last helicopter lifted off, it left the drilling rig alone on a swelling cloud of highly flammable gas from the deep. For almost an entire week flickering way up at the tip of the 490-foot stack was an open gas flare. a company spokesman thankfully noted, the wind had been blowing the gas vapors away from the platform. If it hadn't, and the cloud of gas had come into contact with the flame, there could have been a massive explosion threatening to trigger an environmental catastrophe. Total, the French energy company that owns Elgin, the stricken platform, had lost complete control. Nor was this accident without warning. Weeks earlier, engineers working on the Elgin had noted troubling pressure fluctuations in the capped line. They tried to stop it with so-called drilling mud -- but the gas was quicker.

Despite the massive expenses and technical challenges involved in "high pressure/high temperature" drilling, multinationals like Total are currently investing several billion euros in them. The reason for this is simple. As Hauge, the president of the Norwegian environmental group Bellona puts it: "The easily recoverable reservoirs in the North Sea will soon be empty." Indeed, there are not many deposits left that can be exploited using conventional means.

The combined output of all British drilling platforms now lies at only half of what it was in 1999. In the meantime, the fleet of several hundred British platforms is becoming superannuated, with accidents as well as minor oil and gas spills more common. Forty-four of these monsters even date back to the 1970s, and workers on them are forced to labor just as hard against rust as they do for oil. Jake Molloy, an organizer for the union representing oil workers, has said "ageing infrastructure, a lack of maintenance and installation integrity" are among the union's primary concerns and noted that oil-rig crews often work under life-threatening conditions.

The major oil companies are increasingly handing over their ancient equipment to smaller firms, which then go after every last drop of oil and liquid gas they can. Hauge, the Norwegian environmentalist, finds this worrisome. "Small companies have less capacity to manage big accidents, both financially and technologically," he says.

Given today's oil prices, it's now worth it for companies to go after deposits that would have once been considered uneconomical. BP recently obtained permission to drill for oil in waters more than 1,200 meters deep northwest of the Shetland Islands, off Scotland's northeastern coast. Despite obvious dangers, the region's rich deposits make it appealing. BP has acknowledged that, in the worst-case scenario, a blowout here could threaten the far northern regions with an oil spill that would far exceed even the 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster in size. It calculates that twice as much oil would gush up and cause several times as much environmental damage. But the company also adds that this is, of course, "extremely unlikely."

That is also precisely what engineers thought when they were drilling for oil over 21 years ago off the Scottish coast under contract from the energy giant Mobil, which would later become today's ExxonMobil. Their huge drill was penetrating at a depth of some 500 meters when it inadvertently punctured a methane bubble under high pressure. In an instant, the sea surrounding the drilling platform was transformed into something resembling a whirlpool. As has happened with the Elgin, the entire crew made it safely off the platform. But methane, which as a greenhouse gas is extremely harmful to the climate, continues to bubble up out of the sea floor even today. And nobody can stop it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

dirty glasgow

Pollution in several residential areas of Glasgow has reached potentially deadly levels. All the air quality monitors in the city are exceeding the maximum level for particulate pollution – one of the most dangerous forms with microscopic particles which can cause breathing and blood problems as well as increased risk of heart attacks.

Chris Connor, air quality specialist at the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, said "There is a particular concern about young children and toddlers in buggies as they're at a similar height to exhausts where the cocktail of pollutants is at its highest concentrations."

Broomhill Drive, Byres Road, Nithsdale Road and Battlefield Road are among the worst affected, with most of the pollution thought to be caused by buses, cars and taxis.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wasted Capitalism

One third to one half of all food produced in the world goes to waste uneaten, according to data recently collected by the Natural Resources Defense Council and presented this month at the 2012 Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit. Yet the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that 925 million people went undernourished in 2010 alone. And hunger is not a problem restricted to developing countries: last year, an estimated 1 in 4 American children lived in households where food was not always available, and 1 in 5 Americans sought food aid through the federal food stamp program.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that the average American throws away 33 pounds of food each month — that’s nearly 400 pounds each year. Food waste makes up nearly 14% of American families’ trash. Americans toss more food in their garbage cans than plastic products. This waste includes both leftover cooked foods, and food that was purchased but allowed to spoil without being eaten. The foods most commonly discarded without ever being eaten include fresh produce, eggs and fish.

Farmers, packaged food producers and retailers all waste edible food, too. Farmers may throw away excess produce that cannot be sold; food process may discard edible byproducts; grocery stores often reject or discard produce with minor defects. And at any point along the food supply chain, failure to deliver food promptly or store food properly may lead to spoilage.

Agriculture and food production are highly energy-intensive industries. Industrialized farms use petrochemicals to fertilize soil, and fossil fuels to power farm equipment. Transporting food from field to plate consumes even more energy. According to the a report issued by the UN FAO in November 2011, the food sector accounts for nearly 30 percent of the world’s energy consumption. Wasted food, essentially, is wasted energy. And wasted water, too: the international Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reports that agriculture accounts for roughly 70 percent of human water consumption. Beyond the substantial environmental impact of the wasted energy and water represented by wasted food, food waste contributes significantly to global climate change when it decomposes in landfills. When left to decompose in natural conditions or in a compost pile, food waste naturally releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But under unnatural landfill conditions, in the absence of air, most food waste undergoes anaerobic decomposition, which results in the production of large amounts of methane gas instead. Though both carbon dioxide and methane are greenhouse gases that can contribute to climate change, EPA scientists estimate that methane gas is 20 times more efficient at trapping the sun’s heat than carbon dioxide — making excess methane much more dangerous to the climate than excess CO2. Landfills are currently the third-largest source of methane in the United States, producing more of the dangerous greenhouse gas than coal mining or crude oil production. And much of the methane in landfills comes from decomposing food waste.

Read more:

Monday, March 05, 2012

dirty capitalism

he Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has warned that revised targets to reduce air pollution – already postponed for up to a decade – will be breached because not enough is being done to curb vehicle exhaust emissions.

As a result, people in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee and other urban areas will keep breathing in toxic gases, which can damage their lungs, blood and immune systems. According to the Institute of Occupational Medicine, air pollution kills more than 600 people a year in the Scottish central belt.

An analysis by the Sunday Herald has revealed that European Union (EU) safety limits for nitrogen dioxide, one of the main vehicle exhaust fumes, were breached at 12 sites in urban areas across Scotland in 2011. As well as the four big cities, they included Perth, Paisley, Kirkintilloch, East Kilbride and Broxburn. By far the worst pollution was measured in the centre of Glasgow on Hope Street, followed by Corstorphine in Edinburgh and Atholl Street in Perth.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

dirty air

People living and working in Scotland’s major cities are being exposed to “dangerous” levels of air pollution, figures have revealed.

Analysis of Scottish Air Quality data from 2011 showed levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in parts of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth were in breach of European Union targets of 40 micrograms per cubic metre of air designed to protect health. The average life expectancy in the most polluted cities in Europe is reduced by more than two years, EU chiefs have estimated.

“As a result of a complacent approach, thousands of people are exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution in Scotland’s major cities..." Dr Dan Barlow, WWF Scotland head of policy said

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The air you breathe is poisoned

Air pollution is risking the lives of thousands of Scots, the Scottish Government has been warned.

A lethal pollutant, nitrogen dioxide, is being spewed out by traffic in such large quantities in four areas of the country that Scotland is in breach of levels set by the European Commission. The pollutants have been found to reduce the life expectancy of everyone in the UK by an average of seven to eight months and in central Scotland alone 600 deaths each year are attributed to air pollution. The EU restricts emissions of NO2 and other pollutants because of their health impacts. High levels of air pollution are associated with respiratory illness and are estimated to cause premature death for up to 50,000 people a year in the UK.

The Scottish Government plans next month to ask for an extra ten years to meet the targets in Glasgow city centre, and five more years for Edinburgh city centre, central Scotland and the North-east. In total, 82 miles of roads in Scotland exceed the pollution limits. If air quality in these areas does not improve, the government could be taken to court by the commission and risk hefty fines.

Dr Dan Barlow, head of policy at WWF Scotland, said: "It is shocking that in the 21st century so many people are still being exposed to unhealthy levels of air pollution in Scotland. Scotland has had plenty of time to take preventative action, so it is completely unacceptable that not only are we set to breach air quality targets, but attempts are being made to delay compliance by a further decade. This situation is a direct result of Scotland's failure to produce a sensible strategy that adequately addresses air pollution and climate emissions from road traffic." He added: "With air pollution already responsible for bringing forward the death of hundreds of people in Scotland, the longer we delay action to address this, the more lives will be put at risk."

The environmental law organisation ClientEarth has issued legal proceedings against the UK government for its failure to meet air pollution targets. Chief executive James Thornton said: "Since air quality laws were introduced, successive governments have failed to clean up the air we breathe. We cannot afford to waste any more time by ignoring this invisible killer."

For all of us concerned with the degradation of our lived-in environments by air pollution removing the link between money and work will us free to address these matters.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

the waste of capitalism

Hotels and restaurants send 130,000 tonnes of waste to landfill in Scotland every year. More than three-quarters is recyclable.

53,500 tonnes of the waste from the hospitality sector is food waste - two-thirds of which could have been eaten.

Food waste extends beyond the hotel industry, with more than £1 billion worth of food wasted by consumers in Scotland each year - an average of £430 per household. Households throw away 566,000 tonnes of food every year in Scotland.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

All very fishy

It sounds mad: shipping UK-caught langoustine thousands of miles to be processed, then back again to be turned into breaded scampi and put on sale. That's what leading seafood producer Young's started doing last year. We read :

The journey for the scampi that ends up on dinner plates and in pub baskets across the country starts in traditional style - the catch being landed by inshore fishing boats in ports like Stornoway. From there it is taken by lorry to the Scottish border town of Annan, which is where things start to change.
In the past the scampi was shelled by machine in Scotland. Now it is taken first to Grangemouth and loaded into containers, which are in effect giant freezers.
They are shipped to Rotterdam before being loaded onto a huge container ship alongside around 7,000 other containers for the long haul to Bangkok.
The key part of the process takes place in Thailand, as the langoustine are peeled by hand .
The long journey home from Bangkok takes the frozen, peeled langoustine through Rotterdam again before a short hop across the North Sea to Grimsby, where the scampi is breaded - and then delivered to our supermarkets and our plates.

The whole round-trip is about 17,000 miles (27,353km).

"They cover this up and distract it by saying it's carbon neutral, but in truth this is about minimising costs and maximising profits." says Willie Mackenzie of Greenpeace.

The motives of Youngs Seafoods is indeed exactly what Greenpeace claim , grubby lucre, and nothing at all to do with energy conservation or protecting the enviroment from CO2 emissions . The local workers cannot compete, even if, on Britain's minimum wage, with the Thai prawn-peelers who are paid 25p per hour.

The company announced 120 job cuts when it transferred scampi shelling operations to Thailand and leaves less than 50 workers at the Dumfries facility.

John Holroyd, of the T&G, said: “This is all about exploiting cheap labour abroad..."

Another company , Dawnfresh of Uddingston , in 2006 shed 70 staff to send Scottish prawns to China for shelling before being returned to the UK for sale.