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  • <music> >>ANNOUNCER: Promoting a healthy environment

  • It's the air we breathe Clean, safe water

  • Responsible management of our natural resources We protect and restore

  • For a sustainable future Environment Matters.

  • <music ends> >>Tony Cavalier: "those pollutants are naturally

  • going to occur after we heat our homes, drive our cars. Where do they go? They collect in

  • the atmosphere and then the meteorology takes over either to push them along or to allow

  • them to sit and the problem, of course, is when they sit"

  • >>NARRATION: How weather can affect air quality -- and why for sensitive individuals, paying

  • close attention to the forecast can have a definite impact on their health. Plus:

  • >>Sherrie Hunter: "In twelve school years, we have cumulatively recycled 37-hundred tons

  • of recycling and schools have earned $169,000 dollars from what would have been in the trash."

  • >>NARRATION: Turning trash into treasure -- how one area school district is making a difference

  • -- one student at a time. >>KATHY COSCO: Hello everyone and welcome

  • to Environment Matters. I'm Kathy Cosco with the West Virginia Department of Environmental

  • Protection. For many individualsespecially sensitive

  • groups including children, the elderly, and those who suffer from asthma and other respiratory

  • and cardiovascular problemsknowing forecast levels of air pollution can make a significant

  • difference in the quality of their lives and how they plan their daily activities. The

  • DEP's Greg Adolfson joins us now from Charleston and Greg, most people think of air pollution

  • as a big city problem but that's not always the case.

  • >>GREG ADOLFSON: Kathy, ozone and fine particle pollution can also be problems in rural areas.

  • It's helpful if you think of our atmosphere as an ocean of air -- with currents that can

  • move and disperse but also occasionally trap and concentrate harmful pollutants.

  • >>NARRATION: When the forecast calls for rain, most people bring along an umbrella. When

  • the UV index is high -- it's smart to apply sunscreen. But what about the Air Quality

  • Index? It's estimated that exposure to high concentrations of fine particles in the air

  • and high levels of ground level ozone contributes to tens of thousands of premature deaths every

  • year. >>FRED DURHAM: We'll start with fine particulate

  • matter. When you see dust, that's particles, but the dust that you can see settles out.

  • So that's not really the fine stuff. The really fine particulate matter stays in the air and

  • you breathe it in. And the stuff we're looking at is two and a half microns in diameter and

  • that's very, very, very, very small -- smaller -- probably about 1/30th of a human hair and

  • I don't have a lot of human hair. OK. So this stuff gets past your defenses - You've got

  • your natural defenses, your nose -- you've got all the mucus membranes, etc., that this

  • particle stuff gets past that - gets deep into your lungs and it causes health effects.

  • >>NARRATION: Studies show that fine particle pollution contributes to heart attack and

  • stroke and can weaken the body's immune system. So how does weather affect that? The answer

  • is in the form of a simple rhyme. >>TONY CAVALIER: The solution to pollution

  • is dilution. So pollution forms and how do you get rid of pollution? You dilute the atmosphere.

  • You can do it with a good heavy rain -- just think of pollen counts when they come up -- you

  • get a good rain and all of the sudden folks breathe much better. Well, the same happens

  • with pollution. Pollution gathers and if there's nothing to disperse it, the rain comes along

  • and cleanses the atmosphere. And of course the other part of the cleansing or the dilution

  • is dispersion -- blowing the pollution away. >>NARRATION: WSAZ Chief Meteorologist Tony

  • Cavalier has a lot of experience monitoring and predicting West Virginia's weather patterns.

  • He says the state's mountainous terrain is also a significant factor.

  • >>TONY CAVALIER: What happens is the mountains act as barriers. Wind will blow whatever is

  • in front of it. Now here in Appalachia, the steep hills in a light wind regime, you might

  • be able to push a concentration of a pollutant or anything toward the base of the mountain

  • but if there's not enough wind to get it to go over the mountain, the pollutants will

  • get trapped against either the East or the West slopes of the mountains depending on

  • the wind direction and speed, in which case you have a higher concentration of pollution.

  • >>NARRATION: Another weather event that can affect air quality is what's called an inversion.

  • That's when a layer of cool air forms over warmer air at the ground.

  • >>FRED DURHAM: And that inversion can act as a cap and actually trap pollution that's

  • being emitted beneath the cap in that area and so what happens is if you've got an industrial

  • source or sources in that inversion and we're in a perfect situation for that here in the

  • Kanawha River Valley susceptible to having that type of inversion happen...

  • >>TONY CAVALIER: The ability to produce pollution in the atmosphere is always there. Now you

  • get the right meteorology and in the summer it's hazy, hot and humid but in the winter

  • it's light winds with the air warmer in the mountains than it is in the valleys and when

  • that occurs the pollution will concentrate, it will collect and that concentration will

  • go bigger and bigger... >>NARRATION: Ground level ozone or smog is

  • another pollutant that is affected by the weather -- it's typically a summer phenomenon

  • in our part of the country. It's formed when what are called precursor pollutants, nitrogen

  • oxides or NOX and volatile organic compounds, also known as VOCs, combine in the presence

  • of sunlight. Ground level ozone is an irritant to the lungs. On high ozone days, limiting

  • outdoor exposure is recommended. >>FRED DURHAM: On a high ozone day even if

  • you're healthy, you don't want to get out jogging and exposing your -- over exposing

  • your lungs to that ozone because it's like getting a sunburn on the inside of your lungs

  • and it can cause, at some point, irreversible damage to your lungs.

  • >>GREG ADOLFSON: Now the good news is that the air quality here in West Virginia is actually

  • improving -- and has been for the last several years.

  • Kathy, finding the Air Quality Index is fairly easy -- it's available on the web and on many

  • local TV weather forecasts -- especially on days when it rises to unhealthy levels.

  • >>KATHY COSCO: Thanks, Greg. The Air Quality Index is based on five pollutants

  • regulated by the Clean Air Act -- in addition to ground level ozone, particulate matter

  • and nitrogen dioxide mentioned in Greg's story, the Air Quality Index also looks at carbon

  • monoxide and sulfur dioxide. The index is divided into six categories and color coded

  • to indicate increased levels of health concern. You can find out what the air quality index

  • is in many parts of the state by checking out our website dep.wv.gov and clicking on

  • the Division of Air Quality's Air Quality Index link. You can also get information for

  • other parts of the country by going to the U.S. EPA's site -- airnow.gov.

  • Nearly every day, each one of us contributes a little to air pollution -- often without

  • even realizing it. The DEP's Sarah Alford joins us now with some

  • simple changes we can make to help the planet breathe a little easier...

  • >>SARAH ALFORD: Kathy, they are little changes that -- taken together -- can make a big difference...

  • It starts with a cleaner commute -- and the easiest way to do that is to share a ride

  • by taking part in a car pool -- not only will it reduce the amount of pollution by reducing

  • the number of cars on the highway -- it will save you money, too. Using mass transit, where

  • available, is another good option. If your work schedule allows it -- alter your

  • schedule to avoid the morning and evening rush hour. Driving in lighter traffic will

  • allow you to drive more efficiently -- with fewer starts and stops -- and for the ultimate

  • in savings -- see if your employer allows telecommuting. Avoiding the drive into work

  • -- even for just a few days a month can make a big difference.

  • When you do drive, try to combine all your errands into one trip -- and avoid unnecessary

  • idling when not in traffic -- places like drive through lines at banks and fast food

  • restaurants and while waiting to pick up passengers or waiting for a train at a railroad crossing.

  • Letting your engine idle for just one minute produces as much carbon monoxide as the smoke

  • from three packs of cigarettes and idling just 5 to 10 minutes a day can add up to 1

  • to 2 tanks of fuel wasted each year. And speaking of fuel -- refueling in the morning

  • or evening, when it's cooler, can prevent gas fumes from heating up and creating ozone.

  • And when you're filling up -- stop when the pump clicks off. Topping off your tank just

  • releases more gas fumes into the air. It can also harm your car's anti-pollution devices.

  • Finally, make sure your tires are properly inflated. Under inflated tires create more

  • rolling resistance -- making your engine work harder, burning more fuel and creating more

  • pollution. Maintaining you vehicle by following the manufacturer's recommendations for changing

  • air and oil filters and tune up can keep it running longer and cleaner.

  • Kathy, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation more than 25 percent of all

  • air pollution nationwide is created by motor vehicles on the road.

  • They also say the average American household uses about three gallons of fuel every day

  • so not only will taking these steps make it easier to breathe, it can save you money,

  • too. >>KATHY COSCO: Thanks, Sarah.

  • Another area where you can help reduce air pollution is through using less electricity.

  • Once again, here's Division of Air Quality Deputy Director Fred Durham.

  • >>FRED DURHAM: You don't see the effect at the home; you see the effect at the power

  • plant that had to produce that electricity and that hits all the pollutants. It hits

  • NOX, it's not so much VOC at the power plant but NOX, sulfur dioxides and greenhouse gasses

  • are all reduced when you reduce your electricity. So if you insulate better, you plug air leaks

  • in your house you get a more efficient air conditioner or heat pump in place of electric

  • heating you're going to reduce your use of electricity and most of the utility companies

  • have special programs where they will actually come out and audit your house and the have

  • on-line audits that you can do like in 10 or 15 minutes that you can do to see where

  • you are in the spectrum. Changing out light bulbs at your house. Going from incandescents

  • to fluorescent or LEDs -- >>KATHY COSCO: For much more information -- you

  • can download a copy of the latest Air Quality Report from the DEP. It contains detailed

  • data on individual pollutants, air monitoring and additional resources available to the

  • public. Just visit our website dep.wv.gov and click on the link for the Division of

  • Air Quality. Coming up:

  • >>PATTY HICKMAN: People are afraid to invest their money and redevelop the property because

  • they don't know what kind of liability they are taking on...

  • >>NARRATION: Turning old, abandoned commercial properties into valuable community assets

  • -- how a DEP program is improving the economic climate in communities all across the state.

  • Plus: >>Karen Wynne: We're citizens of the Earth

  • so we are stewards of the Earth. So we're trying to get across to the students to be

  • respectful of our environment and part of that is by not littering, by not cluttering

  • the landfill with things that don't need to be there...

  • >>NARRATION: Lessons in recycling -- how one area school is bring that message home. Those

  • stories and more when Environment Matters continues.

<music> >>ANNOUNCER: Promoting a healthy environment

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Environment Matters - August 2013, Part 1

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    阿多賓   posted on 2014/01/16
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