Air Quality Matters: 2013 in review – Part 1

On matters of air quality, it has been an interesting year and in a few ways a bewildering one too.

By far this year’s big story is the toll on health polluted air has taken. And perhaps the biggest revelation connected with this is that air pollution is now on the world’s top-10-killers list and it is moving up in rank faster than all others; a very disquieting thought. This fact is brought to light in several posts, such as in: “Greater urgency, resolve, cooperation needed to curb pollution;” “World air the worse for wear, but nothing that can’t be fixed;” “Air: It is what it is and what it isn’t is good;” and in “Indoor air pollution far more problematic than previously suspected.”

Next up is transportation. There have been some breakthrough developments, but there have also been some setbacks.

Two Cycle Diesel engine with Roots blower
Two Cycle Diesel engine with Roots blower

Air pollution clean-up progress has been made at ports, and in trucking and motoring, but also on the floating barge-, watercraft- and locomotive-development fronts.

Ports have announced significant emissions reductions (“Ports news: Air quality improvement efforts in South Carolina, Seattle”), while railroads announced plans for liquefied natural gas testing on diesel locomotives (“Railroad testing of liquefied natural gas as potential locomotive fuel forthcoming”). The use of dimethyl ether in trucks made news (“CATS: Biogas producer may be onto something with DME” and “Cleaning the air by lowering diesel’s impact on it”). In the area of floating barges and watercraft, there is even promise here, too (“Fuel-cell study testing seaport-application-practicability waters” and “Efforts to lower air emissions from marine vessels in Canadian waters laudable”).

With respect to the motor vehicle domain, many, many advancements were made. One among them is the incorporation of clean diesel technology (“Diesel: It isn’t just for trucks, buses and locomotives anymore”).

NewOrleansHUDRedStreetcarRiverfrontCanal[1]And one of the biggest disappointments in 2013 came when Cincinnati, Ohio, Mayor John Cranley during his campaign for the city’s top job promised to halt construction of its streetcar line (“TIFFS: Do voter-approved-rail-project-funds ‘road-blocks’ serve well the public?”). This story does, however, have a happy ending. Ultimately and fortunately, wiser heads prevailed at city hall and the streetcar is now back on track.

In Part 2, meanwhile, discussed will be air-quality-improvement developments in infrastructure, and in the residential, commercial, energy and industrial sectors. So, stay tuned!

Upper image: Pearson Scott Foresman

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