ASHRAE Publishes Airplane Cabin Air Standard

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers has published a new standard (161-2007, Air Quality within Commercial Aircraft) that addresses aircraft cabin air quality. ASHRAE said the standard--which covers issues such as temperature, cabin pressure, air contaminants, and ventilation rates--can be voluntarily adopted by individual airlines or the Federal Aviation Administration, or advocated for by airline passenger and employee groups.

"Compliance with this standard will go a long ways toward ensuring good air quality for passengers and crews," said Byron Jones, chair of the committee that wrote the standard.

Also addressed in the standard are chemical, physical, and biological contaminants that could affect air quality. Methods of testing are provided for ensuring compliance with the standard's requirements.

The standard applies to commercial passenger air-carrier aircraft carrying 20 or more passengers and is intended to apply to all phases of flight operations and to ground operations when the aircraft is occupied by passengers or crew members.

The cost of the standard is $54 ($43 members). For more information, visit www.ashrae.org/bookstore.

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The U.S. Climate Change Science Program on May 27 released "Synthesis and Assessment Product 4.3 (SAP 4.3): The Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture, Land Resources, Water Resources, and Biodiversity in the United States."

The program integrates the federal research efforts of 13 agencies on climate and global change. This report is one of the most extensive examinations of climate impacts on U.S. ecosystems. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is the lead agency for the report and coordinated its production.

"The report provides practical information that will help land owners and resource managers make better decisions to address the risks of climate change," said Agriculture Chief Economist Joe Glauber.

The report was written by 38 authors from universities, national laboratories, nongovernmental organizations, and federal service. The report underwent expert peer review by 14 scientists through a Federal Advisory Committee. The National Center for Atmospheric Research also coordinated in the production of the report. It is posted at http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap4-3/default.php.

The report finds that climate change is already affecting U.S. water resources, agriculture, land resources, and biodiversity. Specific findings include:

• Grain and oilseed crops will mature more rapidly, but increasing temperatures will increase the risk of crop failures, particularly if precipitation decreases or becomes more variable.

• Higher temperatures will negatively affect livestock. Warmer winters will reduce mortality but this will be more than offset by greater mortality in hotter summers. Hotter temperatures will also result in reduced productivity of livestock and dairy animals.

• Forests in the interior West, the Southwest, and Alaska are already being affected by climate change with increases in the size and frequency of forest fires, insect outbreaks, and tree mortality. These changes are expected to continue.

• Much of the United States has experienced higher precipitation and streamflow, with decreased drought severity and duration, over the 20th Century. The West and Southwest, however, are notable exceptions, and increased drought conditions have occurred in these regions.

• Weeds grow more rapidly under elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide. Under projections reported in the assessment, weeds migrate northward and are less sensitive to herbicide applications.

• There is a trend toward reduced mountain snowpack and earlier spring snowmelt runoff in the Western United States.

USDA agencies are responding to the risks of climate change. For example, the Forest Service is incorporating climate change risks into National Forest Management Plans and is providing guidance to forest managers on how to respond and adapt to climate change. The Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Services Agency are encouraging actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration through conservation programs. USDA's Risk Management Agency has prepared tools to manage drought risks and is conducting an assessment of the risks of climate change on the crop insurance program.

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