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International news round-up

With news on: Eminox bus retrofitting in Hong Kong; China air pollution; Barcelona schoolchildren study, and; US air pollution video game.

Eminox SCR technology targets Hong Kong pollution

UK-based emission reduction systems manufacturer Eminox has confirmed its involvement in a £3 million project to retrofit buses in Hong Kong with the aim of cutting NOx pollution.

Eminox will retrofit buses in Hong Kong SCR systems

Eminox will retrofit buses in Hong Kong SCR systems

According to Eminox, Hong Kong’s Environmental Protection Department (EPD) aims to upgrade 1,400 buses with retrofit Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology.

As part of this, a pre-qualification programme is currently taking place, which has seen Eminox, as one of four suppliers, already retrofit 23 buses with SCR systems, which it says are delivering NOx reduction beyond the 60% scheme requirement.

Steve Rawson, head of retrofit engineering at Eminox, said: “We are delighted to be involved with such a high-profile international project to tackle on-street pollution in Hong Kong. By retrofitting the existing fleet of buses, we can improve air quality in an area which urgently needs attention – without the high costs associated with replacing an entire fleet. Our SCR technology delivers proven real world NOx reduction that can make a real difference to air quality.”

Eminox said its engineers monitored the temperature at which the buses were operating and measured the packaging envelope using laser scanning, then designed the system to exceed performance targets. The firm produced different system designs to fit the limited space envelope on a variety of buses.

Fitting of the systems by Eminox applications engineers began in October 2014 took 32 days. Real-world NOx reduction is continuously monitored using sensors fitted to the buses and will continue over the 12-month trial period, the firm said.

Following the pre-qualification programme, approved suppliers will be invited to participate in a large scale roll-out to retrofit the remaining buses in 2016.

High air pollution exposure found among Barcelona schoolchildren

A study by the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL) in Spain has found that Barcelona schoolchildren are exposed to level of air pollution more than twice as high during their journeys to school than when they are either at home or in class.

Barcelona schoolchildren were given pollution monitors and smartphones in order to assess air pollution exposure

Barcelona schoolchildren were given pollution monitors and smartphones in order to assess air pollution exposure

Researchers gave 54 schoolchildren aged between seven and 11 from 29 different Barcelona schools small pollution sensors and smartphones with CalFit software to measure location and physical activity.

The Micro-aethalometer sensor measured black carbon levels simultaneously and continuously over a two day period, concluding that levels of air pollution were 2.8 ug3 (microgrammes per cubic metre) during trips to school and 1.3 ug3 at home.

According to CREAL, black carbon levels are a good indicator for air pollution levels, particularly for air pollution coming from diesel cars.

Dr. Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, head of the air pollution programme at CREAL and lead author of the paper, said: “For the first time we used novel smartphone apps (now only used for research but in future can be downloaded for everyone) and sensor technology to measure positioning, physical activity and air pollution simultaneously in children and the results show that air pollution levels are quite variable during the day.”

He added: “When children are closer to cars during journeys to school their air pollution levels increase significantly. Also when they are at school during the day their air pollutions are higher than at home, probably because there are more cars around during the day.”

Air pollution ‘as risky as smoking’ in China, Greenpeace study finds

More than 250,000 people in some of China’s major cities could face premature death due to high levels of air pollution, according to Peking University study commissioned by campaign group Greenpeace.

In the 31 provincial capitals in China, on average 90 out of every 100,000 people could die prematurely every year as a result of high levels of fine particulate in the air, the study estimates.

According to Greenpeace, the findings mean that one out of every seven deaths in the cities is due to air pollution, making exposure to fine particulate matter “as risky as smoking”.

The campaign group claims the study is the first to map out the impact of air pollution on deaths in the long term in China, and argues that all 100,000 estimated premature deaths could be avoided each year by applying national 2030 air quality targets.

China’s national ambient air quality standard is 35 ugm3 (microgrammes per cubic metre) by 2030.

The study is based on PM2.5 data in Chinese cities from 2013 and methodology from the Global Burden of Diseases to project the possible premature deaths related to air pollution.

US university develops air pollution computer game

A new web-based computer game designed to raise awareness of the dangers of local air pollution has been developed by the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

Screenshot of the 'Bad Air Day' computer game

Screenshot of the ‘Bad Air Day’ computer game

The free 3D flying game – ‘Bad Air Day: Play It Like UCAIR’ – is aimed at teenagers, with its development funded through a $40,000 (£25,900) grant from UCAIR, which is a Utah partnership of agencies focused on clean air initiatives.

Players take on the role of the Mayor of Salt Lake City and try to collect votes by flying a paper airplane through a 3D model of the city.

However, before taking off, the player must first decide whether to ban wood fireplaces, promote the use of public transportation, have residents raise home thermostats or take other policy steps to change emission levels.

If the player makes decisions that dirty the air, the city will be covered in smog, making it more difficult to fly the plane. And, according to the developers, if the player makes decisions for cleaner air, it may take away some of our daily conveniences and create a ‘Wall of Public Anger’ that could block the player’s ability to collect votes.

Chemical engineering research associate at the University, Kerry Kelly, said: “I wanted them to learn that air quality is a challenge for the Wasatch Front, that there are real solutions and strategies we can consider and implement to improve air quality but that there are also trade-offs.”

He added: “I’m hoping to inspire them to ask questions about air quality and what causes our poor wintertime air quality.”

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