Clean Air Week may be winding down soon, but our It’s Clear To Me crew is out in force around the city. Mya and Alejandra will be at the Firestone Complete Auto Care Center at 4044 Nolensville Pike Friday, May 3rd from 9:00 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. Find Mya and say, “Keeping my car maintained means better gas mileage and fewer breakdowns.” Stop over to see Alejandra and say, “Combining errands saves time and money and reduces air pollution.” The first two people to find show up will get a CAP t-shirt.
Ok Middle Tennessee the Clean Air Week Scavenger Hunt is half over, so get out there and show your support for clean air! Josh and Jenny will be waiting for you at Centennial Park on Thursday, May 2nd from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. I hope you’re hungry because we’ll be hanging out around the food trucks! Just say the key phrase, “Signing up for air alerts lets me plan ahead for outdoor activities.” for your chance to win a CAP t-shirt.
Attention Clean Air Week Scavenger Hunt Participants:
If you missed Dave at the train station today, you still have a chance to win a CAP t-shirt tomorrow! Be on the look out for Amelia, Wednesday, May 1st on the Vanderbilt Campus at the corner of Scarritt Place and 21st Avenue South (near the rear entrance to the main library), from 7:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. The first two people to find Amelia and say the Clean Air Key Phrase, “Unplugging electronics means saving energy and cleaner air.” will get a CAP t-shirt! CAP staff will be on hand to take Clean AIr Pledges as well, so stop and pledge to do something simple for cleaner air in Middle Tennessee!
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Clean Air Week is April 29, 2013 through May 4, 2013 and the Clean Air Partnership (CAP) is excited to bring a unique way for Middle Tennesseans to learn more about our area’s air quality. We’re taking our It’s Clear To Me character cutouts on the road for a Clean Air Week scavenger hunt of sorts!
Beginning Tuesday, April 30, 2013, Clean Air Partnership staff will be at a different location with one of our It’s Clear To Me characters. The first two people at each location to say the key clean air phrase will get a CAP t-shirt. CAP staff will also be on hand to take Clean Air Photo pledges to be posted on the CAP Facebook page. The location and key phrase details will be published on the CAP Facebook page, Twitter feed, and the CAP blog each day.
“This is a great way for CAP to raise awareness about air quality and how our individual actions can contribute to cleaner air for all Middle Tennesseans,” said Becky Taylor, CAP program administrator. “Our It’s Clear To Me characters have been a wonderful tool for engaging people of all ages in the conversation by showing them there really are people just like them out there doing simple things everyday to improve the air we breathe.”
Follow CAP on Twitter at @CAPMiddleTN or like us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/CAPMiddleTN to stay up-to-date on the scavenger hunt details and other air quality news! Check out the CAP website at http://www.itscleartome.org/main/people-like-you/ to see photos and bios for all the It’s Clear To Me characters and other Middle Tennesseans who’ve taken the pledge.
The schedule for the week is listed below.
|Date||Location and Time||Key Phrase|
|Tuesday, 4/30||Mt. Juliet Train Station, 6:00 a.m. to 7:45 a.m.||Find It’s Clear To Me character Dave and say, “Using transit means less traffic congestion and cleaner air.”|
|Wednesday, 5/1||Vanderbilt Campus, Corner of Scarritt Place and 21st Ave. South, near the rear entrance of the main library, 7:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.||Find It’s Clear To Me Character Amelia and say, “Unplugging electronics means saving energy and cleaner air.”|
|Thursday, 5/2||Centennial Park, 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.||Find It’s Clear To Me characters Josh and Jenny and say, “Signing up for air alerts lets me plan ahead for outdoor activities.”|
|Firestone Complete Auto Care, 4044 Nolensville Pike, Nashville, 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
|Find It’s Clear To Me character Mya and say, “Keeping my car maintained means better gas mileage and fewer breakdowns.” OR It’s Clear To Me character Alejandra and say, “Combining errands saves time and money and reduces air pollution.”|
|Saturday, 5/4||Mayor Dean’s Field Day, Titan’s Stadium, 9:00 a.m. to Noon||Find It’s Clear To Me character Andre and say, “Less idling means cleaner air for little lungs.”|
Click here for story published by Vanderbilt News.
Vanderbilt University currently has an on-campus co-generation, dual fuel power plant which produces 20% of our electricity and 100% of our steam servicing 5.8 million square feet of building space. This steam is then used for 90% of campus heating and 40% of campus cooling. This cogeneration process is quiet efficient: heat, which would otherwise be a wasted byproduct of electricity and steam generation, is used to produce more steam and hot water. The remaining 80% of electricity consumed at Vanderbilt is purchased directly from Nashville Electric Service from Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).
The plant is currently fueled by both coal and natural gas. The conversion will replace the coal-fired boilers with natural gas boilers, retaining the same power generation capacity. The plant will then be fueled entirely by natural gas.
Why is Vanderbilt modifying its power plant?
- There are several factors that make ‘now’ the right time to upgrade Vanderbilt’s power plant:
- Age of the existing boilers. The existing power plant was constructed in 1962, and the original boilers were then replaced in 1988, 26 years later. These boilers are now 25 years old and near the end of their expected life cycle. Just like an automobile or a heat pump, fuel efficiency in a boiler decreases each year as the machinery gets older.
- Improved operational efficiency. Modern natural gas turbines and boilers deliver high fuel efficiency, less maintenance, and are more reliable than other forms of power generation, such as coal fired boilers.
- New environmental regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has enacted new regulations on the operation of institutional boilers. Not only are new boilers needed, but additional air emission controls, manpower, and recordkeeping would eventually be required.
- Environmental impact improvements. The new plant fueled entirely by natural gas will have reduced greenhouse gas emissions, air pollutant emissions (such as particulates), and noise pollution. Additionally, associated transportation fuel use and emissions due to coal trucking needs will be completely eliminated.
What are the benefits of using natural gas?
- Significant reduction in air emissions. Switching to natural gas from coal will reduce Vanderbilt’s emission of particulate matter by more than 50%, while emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and other air pollutants will virtually be eliminated.
- Fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Natural gas boilers will significantly reduce the power plant’s carbon footprint, which will be dependent on the efficiency ratings of our equipment and energy demand on campus.
- Elimination of coal trucks on campus. Currently, five or six large trucks a day deliver coal to the Vanderbilt power plant. This truck traffic, and associated transportation fuel use and emissions, will be entirely eliminated with the installation of natural gas boilers and turbines because natural gas is delivered via underground pipelines.
- Operational experience. Vanderbilt already has two natural gas turbines, which were installed in 2002, and these turbines currently produce steam and electricity in a highly efficient manner. Thus, Vanderbilt’s power plant operators are already thoroughly familiar with their operation and maintenance. It is a reliable technology that will meet Vanderbilt’s needs for decades to come.
- Return on Investment. The investment for the conversion of the power plant to all natural gas fuel, with associated removal of coal-fired boilers and infrastructure, has an estimated payback period of 10 years, dependent on natural gas costs in the future. Furthermore, Vanderbilt will avoid investing additional money in outdated coal technology.
- Improved visual aesthetics of campus. The tall brick “smoke” stack and coal silo located at the power plant will eventually be dismantled and removed, making the power plant ‘blend in’ more with surrounding buildings.
Why does Vanderbilt even have its own power plant??
- Most large universities generate their own power in some way and have done so for many decades, primarily because the universities tend to pre-date the power grids of their surrounding town or city. Vanderbilt is no exception.
- Because Vanderbilt is a major regional Level 1 Trauma Medical Center and Children’s Hospital, as well as housing important experiments and samples for our research, it is essential to be powered by reliable, uninterruptable energy supply 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year, especially in the event of a widespread emergency or loss of power in the Nashville community such as during the May 2010 flood or past tornado events. Because of the emergency needs required by our Medical Center, Vanderbilt will continue to have an on‐campus power plant for many years to come.
- If Vanderbilt chose to shut down the power plant completely and purchased all electricity, steam and chilled water needs from NES/TVA, it would double greenhouse gas emissions from VU. An extra 340,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MTCO2E) would be generated by shutting down the power plant entirely, at a minimum, due to “line losses” from electrical transmission and because TVA’s plants are less efficient than ours.
Is Vanderbilt taking steps to reduce our use of non-renewable energy sources?
- The most cost-effective and environmentally-friendly way to reduce our use of non-renewable energy sources is to first reduce our demand for energy. Check out SustainVU’s ThinkOne website for tips on energy conservation on campus.
- The kilowatt not needed is the most environmentally-friendly kilowatt of all! So it will take us all working together to reduce Vanderbilt’s reliance on nonrenewable energy sources.
- Energy-saving efforts have reduced VU’s coal use by more than 25% since 2007 and shrunk Vanderbilt’s ‘carbon footprint’ by 12% since 2008. We need to keep up the good work and continue the energy usage reduction trend.
Steps we have already taken to reduce energy use include:
- Creating Sustainability and Environmental Management Office (SEMO).
- Hiring a Campus Energy Manager to implement building retrofits and energy efficiency projects.
- Making TVA’s Green Power Switch a part of VU’s power portfolio (Vanderbilt is the largest purchaser of green power in the NES distribution area).
- Launching the campus-wide ThinkOne energy conservation campaign and the Eco-Dores environmental peer residential mentoring program to promote smart and efficient use of utilities via education and behavior change.
- Implementation of aggressive night temperature and lighting set back programs, lighting retrofits, and re-commissioning of utilities in older buildings.
- Design or renovation of 14 projects on campus that meet requirements for the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) designation, the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance energy-efficient green buildings. More information about sustainable building at Vanderbilt can be found on Campus Planning and Construction’s Sustainable Building page or the SustainVU Green Building page.
- Reduction of fuel used by Vanderbilt’s fleet of vehicles by conversion to electric-powered vehicles and size reduction. Installation of 15 new electric car charging stations on VU campus.
- Three projects involving solar generation: a partnership with TVA to install solar-powered electric car charging stations, an array of solar thin films at the power house as a part of the first Green Fund Project, and installation of four solar-powered electronics charging stations throughout campus as part of a Green Fund Project.
More information about VU’s power plant can be found on the Plant Operations Cogeneration Power Plant and Utility Distribution System page.
Read more about the conversion at Inside Vandy.
Earth Day is usually billed as a time to look beyond ourselves and think about health of the planet. But environmental stewardship isn’t just an ethical responsibility. Where air quality is concerned, it’s a needed response to an immediate health crisis.
Every year, polluted outdoor air claims 3.4 million lives worldwide—the same number claimed by obesity and far more than the 2 million lost to high cholesterol. Existing technology could prevent many of these deaths by cutting the production of soot (also known as “fine particle air pollution”), but polluting industries have blocked key reforms for the past dozen years. Now, thanks to two disputed efforts by the Obama administration, real progress is within reach.
The United States has made tremendous strides since passing the Clean Air Act in 1970 and expanding it 20 years later. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the act’s pollution standards saved 160,000 lives between 1990 and 2010. A 2009 study of 51 U.S. cities found that soot reduction alone had added five months to average life expectancy between the early 1980s and the early 2000s.
The reasons are no mystery. Though once considered harmless at all but the highest concentrations, the fine particles produced by the combustion of wood, coal, oil and diesel have emerged as major causes of lung disease and cardiovascular disease, the nation’s leading killer. Our bodies can expel coarse particles by coughing or sneezing, but fine particles burrow deep into lung tissues and permeate the bloodstream, damaging tissues and organs throughout the body.
The American Lung Association estimates that U.S. soot levels declined by nearly a quarter between 2000 and 2010, as cars, trucks and industrial plants improved emission controls. Yet until a few months ago, the national standard for fine-particle air pollution was still set at a 1997 level that science had since identified as hazardous. In 2012, the lung association estimated that 40% of Americans—some 127 million people—still live in dangerously polluted areas. In a report titled Sick of Soot, produced with other health and environmental groups, it concluded that an overdue update of federal air-quality standards could prevent nearly 36,000 premature deaths ever year, not to mention 1.4 million cases of aggravated asthma and 2.7 million missed work or school days.
The Environmental Protection Agency had tried to update the soot standard in 2006, as required by the Clean Air Act. After a scientific review, an independent advisory committee recommended lowering the allowable soot level from 15 micrograms per cubic meter of air to 11 to 13 micrograms. The advisers estimated that the updated standard would save 2,000 lives every year, but the Bush administration blocked the new standard, prompting legal challenges from health groups, environmental groups and 11 states.
In 2009 a federal appeals court ordered the EPA to revisit the soot standard, and when the Obama administration dragged its feet the court set a deadline of June 2012. Finally, last summer, the EPA finally re-proposed essentially the same standard that Bush had blocked six years earlier. And on January 15 of this year, the new standard became law.
The new standard doesn’t directly regulate polluting industries, but its sets a baseline that states and cities must strive to comply with. The coal and oil industries condemn the new standard as scientifically flawed and needlessly expensive—the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity calling it “another example of how the [EPA] is ignoring the harm its aggressive regulatory agenda is causing to the U.S. economy.”
But if the agency’s cost-benefit analysis holds true, the overdue rule change won’t bankrupt us anytime soon. EPA concedes that meeting the new standard could cost industry $53 million to $350 million each year, but the resulting health benefits will save the country an estimated $4 billion to $9 billion and prevent up to 40,000 premature deaths by 2030.
The struggle over soot is far from over. As the new standard takes effect this spring, a legal battle is brewing over a rule that has even bigger health implications. Last year, the EPA updated the Clean Air Act’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS for short). The rule limits the release of mercury, arsenic, chromium, lead and other highly toxic pollutants from coal- and oil-fired power plants. The pollutants can increase cancer risk and stunt children’s brain development, and their release into the air by electric utilities has contaminated water bodies in all 50 states. In the Northeast alone, health authorities advise pregnant women and young children to avoid fish from 10,000 lakes and 46,000 miles of river.
Under the new MATS rule, existing coal- and oil-fired power plants would have to cut emissions to the lowest levels achievable with current technology. Compliance could cost the utility industry up to $9 billion, but the health benefits could dwarf those of the new soot rule—because the improvements needed to reduce toxic emissions would also reduce soot production.
“The MATS rule reduces fine-particle pollution more than the fine-particle rule itself,” says John Walke, senior attorney and clean air director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “If it survives, the country will reap health benefits that far exceed anything we’ve seen in the past decade.” The value of those health benefits could exceed $90 billion by 2016, according to EPA’s analysis.
That, in a sense, is why the utility industry wants to block the new rule. As the U.S. Chamber of Commerce writes in brief on the case, more than 99% of the new rule’s benefits would be “co-benefits” from soot reduction—not direct benefits from the reduction of mercury and the other toxic substances. The court won’t hear arguments before early summer, but we all have a stake in the outcome. As former EPA Administrator Carol Browner said when the government finally succeeded at updating the soot rule this winter, “We don’t have to choose between a healthy economy and healthy air and lungs. We can have both.”
Children whose mothers have an increased exposure to air pollution from motor vehicles while pregnant may have a higher chance of developing certain cancers, a study found.
Each increase in exposure to pollution from gasoline vehicles and diesel trucks was associated with a 4 percent higher risk of developing acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common childhood cancer, as well as increased chances of developing rarer cancers of the eye and of cells that form the reproductive system, according to data presented today at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Washington.
Research in adults has shown that carbon monoxide can damage the retina and have an effect on germ cells of the reproductive system, said Julia Heck, the lead study author. Today’s findings are the first to link air pollution with rarer pediatric cancers, she said.
“With childhood cancers, there’s a lot less known about the causes,” Heck, an assistant researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Public Health, said in an April 5 telephone interview. “My results have to be confirmed in other studies. This is the first real study to report on these rare tumors.”
She said it is unknown why exposure to pollution in utero can raise childhood cancer risks.
Researchers in the study looked at 3,590 children from the California Cancer Registry who were born from 1998 to 2007 and linked to a California birth certificate. The researchers then looked at 80,224 others who had California birth certificates. They estimated the amount of local traffic exposure at the mother’s home during each trimester of pregnancy and the child’s first year.
They found that each increase of 53 parts per billion of carbon monoxide pollution raised the risk of a child developing certain cancers, Heck said. Each increase raised the risk of developing retinoblastoma, or cancer of the eye, by 14 percent, and cancer of the germ cells by 17 percent.
The researchers weren’t able to break down at what point during pregnancy the pollution may increase the risk of cancer because pollution levels were fairly consistent, Heck said. Those with the highest exposures lived near highways or heavily trafficked roads.
About 11,630 U.S. children younger than 15 will be diagnosed with cancer this year, according to the American Cancer Society. The number of cases has increased slightly over the past few decades. Leukemia accounts for about 1 of every 3 cancers in children and the majority of those leukemia diagnoses are acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which is cancer of the blood and bone marrow, according to the cancer society.
Cancer of the eye, called retinoblastoma, affects about 200 to 300 children each year in the U.S. Most of the children have a tumor in only one eye, the society said on its website.
Germ cell tumors account for about 3 percent of all childhood cancers, according to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center website.
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