U.S. Air Is Getting Cleaner, Satellite Images Show
China's pollution is legendary and this year, levels have been worse than ever. Last year, an entrepreneur was manufacturing cans of air to help people breathe. This year, it's bagged mountain air.
This picture taken on March 29, 2014 shows a man helping a young boy try out some "mountain air" from blue bags in a square in Zhengzhou in central China's Henan province, reportedly brought in from 118 miles (190 kilometers) away by a Henan-based travel company as part of a promotional event.
Premature deaths and health problems from air pollution cost China as much as $300 billion a year, an official joint report by the World Bank and the Development Research Center of the State Council said on March 25, calling for a new urbanization model for the world's second-largest economy.
The air originated from Laojun Mountain, according to theWall Street Journal
, citing the state-run China News Service. Residents lined up for the free inhale, which was limited to a few minutes a person.
If you get depressed about the plethora of news about environmental woes, here’s a bit of news that should make you breathe easier.
NASA has just released new images from its Aura satellite, which was launched back in 2004 to study the chemistry of the Earth’s atmosphere. They show that over the past decade, the amount of nitrogen dioxide -- a yellow-brown gas produced by gasoline-burning car engines and coal-burning electrical power plants that can cause respiratory problems -- has decreased. That’s true, even though the U.S. population has increased and there are more cars on the road.
The satellite observations show that even New York City, the most densely populous area in the United States, is making major progress in reducing N02 pollution. The city that never sleeps has been working aggressively over the past decade to monitor and reduce air pollution.
In the late 2000s, New York began mounting portable air-sampling devices on light poles in all five boroughs. Last year, the city began a pilot program to test quick-charging electric-powered taxis.
Satellite data shows a 32 percent decrease in nitrogen dioxide levels over New York City since the mid-2000s. Credit: NASA
Another apparent reason for the decline is the ongoing federal and state regulatory efforts to reduce emissions from power plants. A study by Duke University researchers, published this week in the International Journal of COPD, found that in North Carolina, such controls have resulted in a substantial decline in deaths from respiratory illnesses such as asthma and emphysema.
Nitrogen dioxide is one of six common air pollutants regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which this year began requiring states and local governments to monitor for levels of the gas.
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