Day one of Air Quality Awareness Week

Photo by Public Domain Photos, Flickr

Today marks the beginning of Air Quality Awareness Week. For the first day of Air Quality Awareness Week, the EPA is increasing awareness of particle pollution.

Particle pollution refers to very small particles that can get into our lungs and cause heart and respiratory issues. Sources of particle pollution include fires, wood stoves, tailpipes, power plants, industries, cars, trucks and construction equipment.

The EPA will increase awareness about other air quality issues every day this week here.

Iowans curious about their community’s air pollution can monitor air quality here.

On the Radio: Roundup may present danger to Iowa’s environment

A tractor spraying herbicide on field. Photo by Tpmartins, Flickr.

Listen to this week’s radio segment here or read the transcript below. This week’s episode discusses the effects of the herbicide known as Roundup.

Should Iowans worry about how the world’s most widely used herbicide affects our environment?

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

A series of studies are raising questions about the herbicide Roundup. Last year, a report out of the University of Pittsburgh found that tadpoles grew longer tails when exposed to Roundup – the same adaptation as when they are exposed to other threats. This indicates that the herbicide may have unwanted effects on some species.

Past studies have found that glyphosate-based herbicides – like Roundup – cause birth defects in laboratory animals. Roundup is also believed to have caused the development of “superweeds”, which have grown resistant to herbicides and are so large that they can damage farm equipment.

A U.S. Geological Survey study last year found traces of glyphosates in nearly every air and water sample collected in Mississippi and Iowa.

For more information on this issue, visit

I’m Jerry Schnoor from the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research.

Thank You.

Tax credit uncertainty leads to wind power layoffs

Photo by Auntie K, Flickr.

Since Congress has not yet extended the Production Tax Credit for renewable energy set to expire at the end of the year, the wind power industry is laying off many workers.

Some experts estimate that there will be 37,000 layoffs before the end of the year due to market uncertainty.

If the tax credit is extended, the wind power industry could add 100,000 jobs over the next four years.

Read more about this tax credit from Business 360 here.

Watch the Iowa DNR’s live FalconCam

Since 2003, a pair of peregrine falcons have made their home atop the MidAmerican Energy Building in Davenport, Iowa. Together they’ve raised more than a dozen chicks, with four more set to hatch around May 1st of this year.

A live streaming webcam has been installed to overlook the nest, and will be available until about June 10th.

Check out the livestream here, or read more about the FalconCam at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Volunteer to clean up Iowa’s parks!

Mines of Spain Recreation Area. Photo by jereandreagan, Flickr.

Help preserve Iowa’s parks! On April 27 and 28, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is looking for volunteers to help maintain 12 Iowa state parks.

Volunteers will work with Iowa DNR AmeriCorps members to clean-up trails, collect litter and clear vines.

The parks involved are Big Creek State Park, Backbone State Park, Lake Anita State Park, Lake Wapello State Park, Mines of Spain State Recreation Area, Union Grove State Park, McIntosh Woods State Park, Lake of Three Fires State Park, Pleasant Creek State Recreation Area, Rock Creek State park, Lake Ahquabi State Park and Stone State Park.

Follow this link to learn more and sign up.

UI Professor Greg Carmichael receives prestigious environmental award

University of Iowa professor and co-director of the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, Greg Carmichael, earned the highest environmental award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers – the 2012 Lawrence K. Cecil Award.

As part of the award, Carmichael will receive a plaque and $2,500.

Iowa Environmental Focus has covered Carmichael’s research numerous times:

1)   Click here to learn about Carmichael’s research on sugarcane ethanol’s environmental imact.

2)   Click here to watch a video where Carmichael explains black carbon’s impact on climate change.

3)   Click here to read about the grant Carmichael received last year to continue researching black carbon.

CGRER Student Research Focus – Luke Smith

Luke Smith, a senior in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Iowa, details his research on an ecosystem’s ability to naturally clean oil through a process called phytoremediation.