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- Climate change and health costs of air emissions from biofuels and gasoline by Jason Hill, et al. December 2008. The report analyzes the environmental impacts of energy use on society. It also discusses the benefits, including health costs and GHG reduction, of shifting from gasoline to cellulosic ethanol production.
- 9 June 2011, State College, Pennsylvania, USA: Combustion Emissions and Health (PDF file). Advanced short course sponsored by Penn State's Biomass Energy Center. (Themes: air quality, emissions, health, pollution)
- 16 June 2009, Washington, DC, United States: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Environmental Change and Security Program event: Healthy Solutions to Climate Change Presentation and discussion with Dr. Paul Epstein, Associate Director, Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard Medical School on the potential unintended health and environmental consequences of various alternative energy options. (Themes: bioenergy, public health, renewable energy)
- Biofuel Research Suffers From Gaps, 20 January 2012 by Chemical & Engineering News: "After a review of a decade’s worth of biofuels research, scientists with the Environmental Protection Agency have concluded that significant knowledge gaps will likely prevent experts from adequately assessing biofuels’ full environmental impacts....While researchers have paid substantial attention to greenhouse gas emissions, the new study says, they have focused little on how the production and use of biofuels affects biodiversity and human health."
- "'The last 10 years or so of research may have left us short of understanding what biofuels really may do to global economies, the environment, and society,' says Caroline Ridley, an ecologist with the EPA’s National Center for Environmental Assessment, in Arlington, Va., who led the study."
- "The team found that the most common topics, with a few hundred papers each, were fuel production, feedstock production, and greenhouse gas emissions. Near the bottom of the list, 80 studies examined how biofuel production affects biodiversity, for example how local species fare after farmers clear large stretches of land to grow corn, switchgrass, palm oil, or other biofuel feedstocks. And only 15 studied the human health impacts of increasing levels of air pollutants produced by burning biofuel ethanol."
- "The team also found that researchers have focused largely on the environmental consequences in the Northern Hemisphere even though regions in the Southern Hemisphere, such as Indonesia, will probably grow most of the feedstock crops...."
- "Ridley and her team warn that these holes in biofuels research mean that expanded biofuels use could lead to unanticipated problems. As a result, she suggests her team’s results could offer a useful guide to decision makers in allotting research funds...."
- Access the study, Biofuels: Network Analysis of the Literature Reveals Key Environmental and Economic Unknowns
- Burning issues: tackling indoor air pollution, 7 May 2011 by The Lancet: "According to WHO, 2 million people die as a result of the smoke generated by open fires or crude stoves within their homes every year. Indoor air pollution has been definitively linked to lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and pneumonia, the risk of which is doubled by exposure to indoor smoke. More than 900 000 people die from pneumonia caused by indoor air pollution every year. 500 million households worldwide—roughly 3 billion people—rely on solid fuels, such as wood, animal dung, or coal, for cooking and heating. These fuels are usually burned in a rudimentary stove, or in a traditional open fire. It need not be a problem, at least in terms of health. But only assuming the fuel is completely combusted—wood must be dry, and the stove must work efficiently—and there is plenty of ventilation, a spacious chimney, or a sizeable window. In those places where the use of solid fuels prevails, however, these conditions rarely apply, and the consequences can be severe."
- "Yet, 'despite the magnitude of this growing problem' notes WHO 'the health impacts of exposure to indoor air pollution have yet to become a central focus of research, development aid, and policy making'....But the past year has had some encouraging advances."
- "In September, 2010, the UN Foundation launched the Global Alliance for Clean Cook Stoves....The Alliance—a public-private initiative—brings together partners from the range of specialties across which the issue of indoor air pollution sprawls. There is public health, of course, but also energy, international development, female empowerment, climate change, technology, and business."
- "The real benefits will be seen by switching to cleaner fuels and cleaner stoves. Improved stoves—those fitted with fans, for example—combust fuel more efficiently, have lower emissions, and require shorter cooking times."
- EPA clean air regulations might dim green luster of biomass plants in Oregon and nationwide, 16 September 2010 by OregonLive.com: "Freres Lumber fired up its biomass plant in 2007 as part of the green power rush, banking on tax breaks to generate steam and electricity at its Lyons mill by burning forest slash and mill waste."
- "But proposed rules from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency -- including new regulations on boiler pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the plants -- could force the company to sample emissions more and put 'pollution controls on top of pollution controls,' Freres executives say."
- "Even with pollution controls, emissions of carbon dioxide, lung-damaging particulates and other pollutants from burning wood can be greater than burning coal or natural gas. And classifying biomass as renewable power could encourage overdevelopment of wood burning power plants, threatening forests in the long term, critics say."
- Fight Gears Up on Biomass, 27 July 2010 by the New York Times "Green" blog: "There is evidently no form of energy, including renewable energy, that lacks opposition. A big spat right now centers on biomass power plants."
- "...the Biomass Accountability Project is trotting out experts in medicine and forestry to argue against such power generators."
- "Margaret Sheehan, a lawyer with the group, says that even if new biomass plants meet all Environmental Protection Agency regulations on air emissions, generation could still endanger human health because the standards are inadequate. For emissions of very small soot particles, she said, 'there is no safe known limit.'"
- UNECE Black Carbon Group Holds First Meeting, 28 June 2010 by Climate-L.org: "The first meeting of the Ad Hoc Expert Group on Black Carbon under the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) was held in Brussels, Belgium, on 17-18 June 2010."
- "During the meeting, national experts and policymakers from Europe, North and South America and Asia reviewed the current state of black carbon research, discussed knowledge gaps, and explored future strategies for reducing the pollutant’s emissions."
- "By the end of 2010, the Group, chaired by Norway and the US, is expected to provide options for potential revisions to the 1999 Gothenburg Protocol, enabling parties to the Convention to mitigate black carbon as part of a broader particulate matter strategy for health purposes and to achieve climate co-benefits."
- The coming of biofuels: Study shows reducing gasoline emissions will benefit human health, 28 May 2009 by e! Science News: "While the focus of a shift from gasoline to biofuels has been on global warming, such a shift could also impact human health."
- "A grant from the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) has produced a novel and comprehensive "Life Cycle Impact Assessment" to measure the benefits on human health that might result from a switch to biofuels."
- "...the annual health damages avoided in the U.S. with 10-percent less gasoline-run motor vehicle emissions ranges from about 5,000 to 20,000 DALY [disability adjusted life years], with most of the damage resulting from primary fine particle emissions".
- "Large urban regions...suffer disproportionate health damage as a result of benzene emissions at service stations and during the transporting by truck of gasoline to service stations".
- Impacts "on human health should be a prime consideration in future fuel policy decisions."
- Cellulosic Ethanol May Benefit Human Health And Help Slow Climate Change, 3 February 2009 by ScienceDaily: "Filling our fuel tanks with cellulosic ethanol instead of gasoline or corn-based ethanol may be even better for our health and the environment than previously recognized, according to new research from the University of Minnesota."
- "The study finds that cellulosic ethanol has fewer negative effects on human health because it emits smaller amounts of fine particulate matter, an especially harmful component of air pollution."
- "The study is the first to estimate the economic costs to human health and well-being from gasoline, corn-based ethanol and cellulosic ethanol made from biomass. The authors found that depending on the materials and technology used in production, cellulosic ethanol's environmental and health costs are less than half the costs of gasoline, while corn-based ethanol's costs range from roughly equal to about double that of gasoline."
- See the Open Access study, "Climate change and health costs of air emissions from biofuels and gasoline" in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
- Victims of Biofuel: Nicaraguan Communities Affected by IFC-Funded Ethanol Plant File Complaint, 1 April 2008 press release by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL): "Over 700 community members and ex-sugarcane workers from the Pacific coast of Nicaragua filed a complaint yesterday with the International Finance Corporation for injuries to their health and environment caused by the operations of Nicaragua Sugar Estates Limited (NSEL). NSEL received a $55 million loan from the IFC in 2006 to increase its sugarcane production and to fund the construction of an ethanol plant. The complaint (PDF file)...presents evidence that NSEL activities violated these standards."
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