Here's the latest news from AirUCI — our events, our people, our science.



Wednesday, October 6, 2021

On Wednesday, October 6th, AirUCI faculty Kim Fortun was interviewed on the KCBS 5:00 news hour as an expert on environmental disasters for a segment on the oil spill along the Orange County coast.  She answered questions over four minutes about both obvious and cascading damages of such events to the environment and society, how communities recover, the complications of determining responsibility for such events, as well as measures that can be taken to mitigate effects and prevent future events.  See the interview
Kim said, “This spill is happening at a time when oceans are known to be in crisis because of plastic pollution, because of warming, coastlines are under stress from rising sea levels and unregulated development, species extinctions have received lots of attention in the just last few weeks; so we need to see this spill as connecting and exacerbating that whole array of issues. … The liability issues on this case are going to be particularly complex.”

Monday, October 4, 2021

AirUCI faculty Don Blake is quoted in a USA Today article on the oil spill off Orange County beaches.  While some official agencies were informed of the spill late Friday night, no public announcement was made even though it was a warm weekend with a popular air show taking place in Huntington Beach that attracted 1.5 million spectators to the shore.  There was some risk to the public, as crude oil contains several toxic and carcinogenic pollutants that rapidly vaporize when spilled, including benzene, toluene, and xylenes. While the most dangerous spot is at the site of the bubbling rupture, the gases can be carried for miles in the air.
When asked to comment on the delay in reporting the spill, Don said, "It would have made more sense to at least report it publicly and then let people decide if they wanted to go to the beach, and possibly be exposed at the air show."  Read the article

Monday, October 4, 2021

AirUCI faculty Jun Wu is the author of a new study that shows pregnant women who live in Southern California areas with poor air quality have an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes mellitus. Mothers with gestational diabetes have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, while their children are at higher risk for preterm birth, childhood autism, and adult obesity.  As Jun says, “No prior study has systematically explored the joint effects of complex air pollution mixtures on the condition.” 
Recommended interventions to reduce the odds of gestational diabetes, especially among Southern California’s at-risk demographic groups, include stronger air-quality regulations, use of air filters and purifiers, early gestational diabetes screening and promotion of healthy lifestyles. 
Read the article

Monday, September 27, 2021

AirUCI faculty Jack Brouwer is quoted in a September 27th article in The Grist on the pros and cons of hydrogen as a means of replacing fossil fuels in multiple applications, including transportation, energy, and manufacturing.  Jack talks about the promising idea of blending green hydrogen and methane, but there are significant issues to be overcome.  Read the article

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The California Department of Justice announced today that AirUCI is among the applicants selected to receive research funds to study air pollution from vehicle tires and brakes.  This is a groundbreaking project that involves 12 of our AirUCI faculty, headed by Primary Investigator Barbara Finlayson-Pitts, and spans the schools of Physical Sciences, Engineering, Social Sciences, and Health Sciences. Along with AirUCI Project Scientists and other research staff, we are partnering with the Madison Park Neighborhood Association in Santa Ana, a non-profit environmental justice organization who will assist in collection of data and in communication of findings to local residents.
The funds, part of Volkswagen's settlement in 2016 for falsifying emissions data, are designated for research that addresses air quality issues, particlularly those affecting areas that are disproportionately exposed to vehicle emissions.  Barbara notes that even though emissions of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and other gases are expected to drop as internal combustion engines decline as a power source for vehicles, tires and brakes and other sources of airborne grit will persist and are small enough to be inhaled.  This project aims to gain a better understanding of the health effects of these particles.  Read the article

Thursday, September 16, 2021

AirUCI faculty Jun Wu is listed among a stellar collection of UCI scientists and engineers who are "warriors in the fight against climate change."  The article notes her work in the effects of pollution and climate change on health, particularly how extreme heat affects pregnancy outcomes.  Read the article

Monday, September 13, 2021

A study conducted by the team of AirUCI faculty Eric Saltzman — including grad student John Patterson and AirUCI Project Scientist Murat Aydin — has shown that molecular hydrogen increased by 70% in Earth’s atmosphere from 1852 to 2003.  The field study was conducted at Megadunes, Antarctica collabortively with scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the University of Colorado Boulder, and UC San Diego, along with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.  John is quoted saying that the bulk of the growth in H2 is attributable to human activities, especially those resulting in transportation-sourced emissions, but a portion of the increase is still unaccounted for.  Read the article

Friday, September 3, 2021

AirUCI grad student Audrey Odwuor in the Czimczik and Randerson research groups has been measuring the smoke and analyzing air samples taken at Lake Tahoe's Caldor fire.  She is featured in a YouTube video and describes her project in detail, part of how UCI scientists are responding to the breathing emergency in fire evacuation zones.  Watch the video

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

AirUCI faculty Scott Samuelsen is the principal investigator in a new traffic study in which 25 intersections in the city of Irvine, including 9 on the UCI campus, are being equipped with next-generation traffic sensors designed to collect data in real time.  This project is also a major achievement for the new HORIBA Institute, with AirUCI faculty Vojislave Stamenkovic as its director.  The information collected in the study is used to implement instant adjustments to the flow of traffic.  "The advanced sensors will be able to detect the traffic flow then respond by adjusting the length of time a traffic light stays red, green, or yellow.  Information on what’s going on in the intersections, how many pedestrians, how many motorcyclists, how many bicyclists, (will reveal) how we can better establish traffic signal control to make it much more user friendly,” Scott says.  Details     Read the article

Friday, August 20, 2021

AirUCI faculty Michael Prather, a review editor for the August 2021 IPCC report, provided some insights to the Irvine Weekly into the report's conclusions as well as analysis of the findings of the research.  Although the situation has become more urgent, Mike also had some suggestions for adaptation and some relatively easy changes everyday people can make in their lives that will help reduce greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.  Read the article