Study finds state emits more than the rest of the country

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The United States is responsible for 17% of global emissions of sulfuryl fluoride, a powerful greenhouse gas. About 60-85% of US emissions come from California, according to a study published in communication earth and environment, Credit: Khamar Hopkins/Johns Hopkins University

California, a state known for its aggressive greenhouse gas reduction policies, is ironically the nation’s largest emitter of sulfuryl fluoride.

17% of global emissions of this gas, a common pesticide used to treat termites and other wood-infesting insects, come from the United States. A new study led by Johns Hopkins University shows that most of those emissions occurred in a few California counties.

“When we finally mapped it, the results were puzzling because all the emissions were coming from the same place,” said co-author Scott Miller, an assistant professor of environmental health and engineering at Johns Hopkins who studies greenhouse gases and air pollutants. Were staying.”

“Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases like methane are found everywhere across the US. On our sulfuryl fluoride map, only California lit up like a Christmas tree.”

Miller and lead author Dylan Gaeta, a Ph.D. candidate at Johns Hopkins analyzed more than 15,000 air samples collected between 2015 and 2019 by NOAA Global Monitoring Laboratory scientists. The researchers took into account wind speed, direction and other weather variables to trace the chemicals back to their original location. The findings have been published Communication Earth and Environment.

The team found that 60–85% of sulfuryl fluoride emissions in the US come from California, primarily from Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, despite California being a national leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with a net This includes publishing a comprehensive plan to achieve. Zero emissions by 2045.

“Now we can show not only where but also how and why this gas is being emitted,” Geeta said. “To achieve net-zero emissions, we need a complete inventory of greenhouse gases.”

First approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use as a pesticide in 1959, sulfuryl fluoride gained popularity as countries around the world began phasing out more reactive fumigants that damage the ozone layer, the researchers said. Expressed agreement.

Because California keeps exhaustive records of pesticide use, the team was able to attribute the vast majority, about 85%, of the state’s sulfuryl fluoride emissions to structural fumigation – sealing an infested structure with an airtight tent, releasing the gas. The practice of pumping air into a tent to eliminate pests, and then venting the gas directly into the atmosphere. About 15% came from the fumigation of agriculture and commodities.

Once emitted, the gas spreads and remains in the atmosphere for more than 40 years, where it contributes to global warming by trapping heat and returning it to the Earth’s surface, the researchers said. The average concentration of sulfuryl fluoride in the atmosphere is low; However, humans have been emitting the man-made gas for decades at a faster rate than it can decompose naturally.

“Without any type of intervention, sulfuryl fluoride will continue to accumulate in our atmosphere. As for most greenhouse gases, California has been very intentional about how it will reduce emissions,” Gaeta said. “It has slipped under the radar.”

Efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions typically focus on carbon because it poses the greatest threat to global warming. But, Miller said, researchers are working to get a more complete picture of the risks posed by other greenhouse gases.

Sulfuryl fluoride is one of the few treatments used to rid buildings of drywood termites, a common regional pest that can form colonies in high, inaccessible parts of wooden structures. It is also used at shipping ports to kill pests before they can travel to other parts of the world.

“It’s really a double-edged sword. Sulfuryl fluoride is less harmful than the banned fumigants, but it also contributes to global warming,” Miller said.

“California’s track record shows that it is considering out-of-the-box, creative ways to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. I think it’s important to consider what the emissions are and what their impact is.” Knowing better will give the state the information it needs to help it develop holistic greenhouse gas reduction strategies.”

The researchers shared their findings with the California Air Resources Board and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

more information:
California dominates US emissions of pesticides and the powerful greenhouse gas sulfuryl fluoride, communication earth and environment (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s43247-024-01294-x

Provided by Johns Hopkins University


Citation: California leads US in sulfuryl fluoride emissions: State emits more than rest of country, study finds (2024, April 3) April 3, 2024 https://phys.org/news/ Retrieved from 2024-04-california-emissions-sulfuryl. -fluoride-state.html

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