Airborne Observations of Reactive Inorganic Chlorine and Bromine Species in the Exhaust of Coal-Fired Power Plants.
ABSTRACT: We present airborne observations of gaseous reactive halogen species (HCl, Cl2, ClNO2, Br2,BrNO2, and BrCl), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and nonrefractory fine particulate chloride (pCl) and sulfate(pSO4) in power plant exhaust. Measurements were conducted during the Wintertime INvestigation of Transport, Emissions, and Reactivity campaign in February-March of 2015 aboard the NCAR-NSF C-130 aircraft. Fifty air mass encounters were identified in which SO2 levels were elevated ~5 ppb above ambient background levels and in proximity to operational power plants. Each encounter was attributed to one or more potential emission sources using a simple wind trajectory analysis. In case studies, we compare measured emission ratios to those reported in the 2011 National Emissions Inventory and present evidence of the conversion of HCl emitted from power plants to ClNO2. Taking into account possible chemical conversion downwind, there was general agreement between the observed and reported HCl: SO2 emission ratios. Reactive bromine species (Br2, BrNO2, and/or BrCl) were detected in the exhaust of some coal-fired power plants, likely related to the absence of wet flue gas desulfurization emission control technology. Levels of bromine species enhanced in some encounters exceeded those expected assuming all of the native bromide in coal was released to the atmosphere, though there was no reported use of bromide salts (as a way to reduce mercury emissions) during Wintertime INvestigation of Transport, Emissions, and Reactivity observations. These measurements represent the first ever in-flight observations of reactive gaseous chlorine and bromine containing compounds present in coal-fired power plant exhaust.
Project description:Coal-fired power plants release substantial air pollution, including over 60% of U.S. sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions in 2014. Such air pollution may exacerbate asthma however direct studies of health impacts linked to power plant air pollution are rare. Here, we take advantage of a natural experiment in Louisville, Kentucky, where one coal-fired power plant retired and converted to natural gas, and three others installed SO2 emission control systems between 2013 and 2016. Dispersion modeling indicated exposure to SO2 emissions from these power plants decreased after the energy transitions. We used several analysis strategies, including difference-in-differences, first-difference, and interrupted time-series modeling to show that the emissions control installations and plant retirements were associated with reduced asthma disease burden related to ZIP code-level hospitalizations and emergency room visits, and individual-level medication use as measured by digital medication sensors.
Project description:Severe haze is a major public health concern in China and India. Both countries rely heavily on coal for energy, and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emitted from coal-fired power plants and industry is a major pollutant contributing to their air quality problems. Timely, accurate information on SO2 sources is a required input to air quality models for pollution prediction and mitigation. However, such information has been difficult to obtain for these two countries, as fast-paced changes in economy and environmental regulations have often led to unforeseen emission changes. Here we use satellite observations to show that China and India are on opposite trajectories for sulfurous pollution. Since 2007, emissions in China have declined by 75% while those in India have increased by 50%. With these changes, India is now surpassing China as the world's largest emitter of anthropogenic SO2. This finding, not predicted by emission scenarios, suggests effective SO2 control in China and lack thereof in India. Despite this, haze remains severe in China, indicating the importance of reducing emissions of other pollutants. In India, ~33 million people now live in areas with substantial SO2 pollution. Continued growth in emissions will adversely affect more people and further exacerbate morbidity and mortality.
Project description:Volcanic gas emission measurements inform predictions of hazard and atmospheric impacts. For these measurements, Multi-Gas sensors provide low-cost in situ monitoring of gas composition but to date have lacked the ability to detect halogens. Here, two Multi-Gas instruments characterized passive outgassing emissions from Mt. Etna's (Italy) three summit craters, Voragine (VOR), North-east Crater (NEC) and Bocca Nuova (BN) on 2 October 2013. Signal processing (Sensor Response Model, SRM) approaches are used to analyse H2S/SO2 and HCl/SO2 ratios. A new ability to monitor volcanic HCl using miniature electrochemical sensors is here demonstrated. A "direct-exposure" Multi-Gas instrument contained SO2, H2S and HCl sensors, whose sensitivities, cross-sensitivities and response times were characterized by laboratory calibration. SRM analysis of the field data yields H2S/SO2 and HCl/SO2 molar ratios, finding H2S/SO2 = 0.02 (0.01-0.03), with distinct HCl/SO2 for the VOR, NEC and BN crater emissions of 0.41 (0.38-0.43), 0.58 (0.54-0.60) and 0.20 (0.17-0.33). A second Multi-Gas instrument provided CO2/SO2 and H2O/SO2 and enabled cross-comparison of SO2. The Multi-Gas-measured SO2-HCl-H2S-CO2-H2O compositions provide insights into volcanic outgassing. H2S/SO2 ratios indicate gas equilibration at slightly below magmatic temperatures, assuming that the magmatic redox state is preserved. Low SO2/HCl alongside low CO2/SO2 indicates a partially outgassed magma source. We highlight the potential for low-cost HCl sensing of H2S-poor HCl-rich volcanic emissions elsewhere. Further tests are needed for H2S-rich plumes and for long-term monitoring. Our study brings two new advances to volcano hazard monitoring: real-time in situ measurement of HCl and improved Multi-Gas SRM measurements of gas ratios.
Project description:Sulfur oxides (SOx), particularly SO2 emitted by coal-fired power plants, produce long-term risks for cardiovascular disease (CVD). We estimated the relative risks of CVD and ischemic heart disease (IHD) attributable to SOx emission globally. National SOx reduction achieved by emissions control systems was defined as the average SOx reduction percentage weighted by generating capacities of individual plants in a country. We analyzed the relative risk of CVD incidence associated with national SOx reduction for 13,581 coal-fired power-generating units in 79 countries. A 10% decrease in SOx emission was associated with 0.28% (males; 95%CI?=?-0.39%~0.95%) and 1.69% (females; 95%CI?=?0.99%~2.38%) lower CVD risk. The effects on IHD were?>?2 times stronger among males than females (2.78%, 95%CI?=?1.99%~3.57% vs. 1.18%, 95%CI?=?0.19%~2.17%). Further, 1.43% (males) and 8.00% (females) of CVD cases were attributable to suboptimal SOx reduction. Thus, enhancing regulations on SOx emission control represents a target for national and international intervention to prevent CVD.
Project description:There is a pressing need to verify air pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions from anthropogenic fossil energy sources to enforce current and future regulations. We demonstrate the feasibility of using simultaneous remote sensing observations of column abundances of CO2, CO, and NO2 to inform and verify emission inventories. We report, to our knowledge, the first ever simultaneous column enhancements in CO2 (3-10 ppm) and NO2 (1-3 Dobson Units), and evidence of ?(13)CO2 depletion in an urban region with two large coal-fired power plants with distinct scrubbing technologies that have resulted in ?NOx/?CO2 emission ratios that differ by a factor of two. Ground-based total atmospheric column trace gas abundances change synchronously and correlate well with simultaneous in situ point measurements during plume interceptions. Emission ratios of ?NOx/?CO2 and ?SO2/?CO2 derived from in situ atmospheric observations agree with those reported by in-stack monitors. Forward simulations using in-stack emissions agree with remote column CO2 and NO2 plume observations after fine scale adjustments. Both observed and simulated column ?NO2/?CO2 ratios indicate that a large fraction (70-75%) of the region is polluted. We demonstrate that the column emission ratios of ?NO2/?CO2 can resolve changes from day-to-day variation in sources with distinct emission factors (clean and dirty power plants, urban, and fires). We apportion these sources by using NO2, SO2, and CO as signatures. Our high-frequency remote sensing observations of CO2 and coemitted pollutants offer promise for the verification of power plant emission factors and abatement technologies from ground and space.
Project description:Observations of elemental mercury (Hg(0)) at sites in North America and Europe show large decreases (∼ 1-2% y(-1)) from 1990 to present. Observations in background northern hemisphere air, including Mauna Loa Observatory (Hawaii) and CARIBIC (Civil Aircraft for the Regular Investigation of the atmosphere Based on an Instrument Container) aircraft flights, show weaker decreases (<1% y(-1)). These decreases are inconsistent with current global emission inventories indicating flat or increasing emissions over that period. However, the inventories have three major flaws: (i) they do not account for the decline in atmospheric release of Hg from commercial products; (ii) they are biased in their estimate of artisanal and small-scale gold mining emissions; and (iii) they do not properly account for the change in Hg(0)/Hg(II) speciation of emissions from coal-fired utilities after implementation of emission controls targeted at SO2 and NOx. We construct an improved global emission inventory for the period 1990 to 2010 accounting for the above factors and find a 20% decrease in total Hg emissions and a 30% decrease in anthropogenic Hg(0) emissions, with much larger decreases in North America and Europe offsetting the effect of increasing emissions in Asia. Implementation of our inventory in a global 3D atmospheric Hg simulation [GEOS-Chem (Goddard Earth Observing System-Chemistry)] coupled to land and ocean reservoirs reproduces the observed large-scale trends in atmospheric Hg(0) concentrations and in Hg(II) wet deposition. The large trends observed in North America and Europe reflect the phase-out of Hg from commercial products as well as the cobenefit from SO2 and NOx emission controls on coal-fired utilities.
Project description:Gaseous and particulate emissions generated from the combustion of coal have been associated with adverse effects on human health and the environment, and have therefore been the subject of regulation by federal and state government agencies. Detailed emission characterizations are needed to better understand the impacts of pre- and post-combustion controls on a variety of coals found in the United States (U.S.). While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires industry reporting of emissions for criteria and several hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), many of the methods for monitoring and measuring these gaseous and particulate emissions rely on time-integrated sampling techniques. Though these emissions reports provide an overall representation of day-to-day operations, they represent well-controlled operations and do not encompass real combustion events that occur sporadically. The current study not only characterizes emissions from three coals (bituminous, sub-bituminous, and lignite), but also investigates the use of instrumentation for improved measurement and monitoring techniques that provide real-time, continuous emissions data. Testing was completed using the U.S. EPA's Multi-Pollutant Control Research Facility, a pilot-scale coal-fired combustor using industry-standard emission control technologies, in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Emissions were calculated based on measurements from the flue gas (pre- and post-electrostatic precipitator), to characterize gaseous species (CO, CO2, O2, NOX, SO2, other acid gases, and several organic HAPs) as well as fine and ultrafine particulate (mass, size distribution, number count, elemental carbon, organic carbon, and black carbon). Comparisons of traditional EPA methods to those made via Fourier Transfer Infrared (FTIR) Spectroscopy for CO, NOX, and SO2 are also reported.
Project description:We report on the continuous ambient measurements of total gaseous mercury (TGM) and several ancillary air quality parameters that were collected in Colorado Springs, CO. This urban area, which is located adjacent to the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, is the second largest metropolitan area in Colorado and has a centrally located coal-fired power plant that installed mercury (Hg) emission controls the year prior to our study. There are few other Hg point sources within the city. Our results, which were obtained from a measurement site < 1 km from the power plant, show a distinct diel pattern in TGM, with peak concentrations occurring during the night (1.7 ± 0.3 ng m-3) and minimum concentrations mid-day (1.5 ± 0.2 ng m-3). The TGM concentrations were not correlated with wind originating from the direction of the plant or with sulfur dioxide (SO2) mixing ratios, and they were not elevated when the atmospheric mixing height was above the effective stack height. These findings suggest that the current Hg emissions from the CFPP did not significantly influence local TGM, and they are consistent with the facility's relatively low reported annual emissions of 0.20 kg Hg per year. Instead, variability in the regional signal, diurnal meteorological conditions, and/or near-surface emission sources appears to more greatly influence TGM at this urban site.
Project description:The Chinese national pollution census has indicated that the domestic burning of solid fuels is an important contributor to nitrogen dioxide (NO2 ) and sulfur dioxide (SO2 ) emissions in China. To characterize indoor NO2 and SO2 air concentrations in relation to solid fuel use and stove ventilation in the rural counties of Xuanwei and Fuyuan, in Yunnan Province, China, which have among the highest lung cancer rates in the nation, a total of 163 participants in 30 selected villages were enrolled. Indoor 24-h NO2 and SO2 samples were collected in each household over two consecutive days. Compared to smoky coal, smokeless coal use was associated with higher NO2 concentrations [geometric mean (GM) = 132 ?g/m(3) for smokeless coal and 111 ?g/m(3) for smoky coal, P = 0.065] and SO2 [limit of detection = 24 ?g/m(3) ; percentage detected (%Detect) = 86% for smokeless coal and 40% for smoky coal, P < 0.001]. Among smoky coal users, significant variation of NO2 and SO2 air concentrations was observed across different stove designs and smoky coal sources in both counties. Model construction indicated that the measurements of both pollutants were influenced by stove design. This exposure assessment study has identified high levels of NO2 and SO2 as a result of burning solid fuels for cooking and heating.
Project description:Coal-fired power plants (CFPPs) are key point sources to atmospheric heavy metal (HM) emissions in China. Unevenly distributed CFPPs lead to large-scale interregional power transmission, as well as corresponding environmental emissions transfer. However, the effect of power transmission on HM reallocation remains poorly understood. Here, we traced HM (including Hg, As, Se, Pb, Cd, and Cr) emission flows through electricity transmission and regional trade and calculated China's multi-perspective electricity-related HM emissions from 2010 to 2015. Results show that in 2015, power transmission and regional trade caused 226.5 t (14% of total emissions) and 453.6 t (28%) of HM emission flows, respectively, leading to great differences in provincial HM emissions under different perspectives (e.g., Beijing's consumption-based emission was 15.5 times higher than the city's production-based emission in 2015). Our study provides valuable insights for fairly allocating provincial HM emission reduction responsibility and formulating synergistic emission mitigation strategies among regions.