Ammonium Nitrate Chemistry
On A Clear Day
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3y ago
  Earlier this year I had an article reprinted in Scientific American, which took me back to my PhD research on ammonium nitrate explosives. Ammonium nitrate on its own is surprisingly difficult to detonate, but major accidental explosions keep occurring. In the aftermath of the Beirut explosion it was great to see many chemical safety experts getting accurate information out about how to safely manage this hazardous chemical ..read more
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Nishinoshima Volcano Injecting Sulfur into the Troposphere
On A Clear Day
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3y ago
In recent weeks the Nishinoshima volcano has been sending plumes of sulfur dioxide (SO2) almost halfway across the Pacific Ocean. Nishinoshima is a relatively new and active volcanic island located over 900 km off the coast of Japan. On June 15 the Japanese Coast Guard shared images of it erupting, and on June 25 confirmed that it was erupting at a high level of explosivity. Volcanic gases contain lots of sulfur. Highly explosive eruptions have the potential to inject these gases directly into the stratosphere. This is exactly what is happening with Nishinoshima right now, and it can be ..read more
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Advancing Environmental Sustainability Event
On A Clear Day
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4y ago
Melbourne Connect invited me to contribute to their Advancing Environmental Sustainability event, which you can watch here. I try to unpick why Australia's air quality hasn't improved during COVID-19 lock-downs ..read more
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Bright Orange Plume from Central Queensland Mining Blast
On A Clear Day
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4y ago
An intense orange plume was captured in spectacular photographs near the mining town of Moranbah. The mine operator, Stanmore Coal, described it as nitrogen combined with oxygen: nitrogen dioxide (NO2). I spoke to ABC Radio Capricornia about this fume event. Orange gas from a mining blast near Moranbah, May 31 2020. Satellite data from Sentinel-5P's TROPOMI instrument detected a significant amount of NO2 over Moranbah on the days after the blast, likely representing the cumulative effects of mining explosives in the region. This can be seen in the image below (top left), compared t ..read more
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Pepper spray isn’t just a chemical – it’s a chemical weapon
On A Clear Day
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4y ago
Last week I wrote about pepper spray and other tear gas chemicals, in a story that appeared in The Conversation, SBS News, and elsewhere. Most people accept that law enforcement should have access to tear gas as a form of less-lethal self defense and for riot control. So why is it banned in wartime and why is it so troubling that nations might be using tear gas without justification? Chemical weapons emerged during World War I, and were used by all sides. Not knowing which chemicals were effective in warfare, just about every harmful substance was tried. The effects were unpredicta ..read more
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Hazardous Air Quality and Sport
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4y ago
Air quality in major Australian cities plummeted to hazardous levels over summer, coinciding with major sporting events including the Australian Open tennis and international cricket matches. Research shows that air pollution needs to be relatively severe to offset the positive benefits of exercise, and it is difficult to decide when major sporting events are unsafe to go aead, both for the professional athletes and spectators. I was interviewed by ABC News for this story on air quality and sport ..read more
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Climate Change Isn’t Cured, So Don’t Get Cocky
On A Clear Day
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4y ago
There has been a lot of talk about reduced emissions following the COVID-19 pandemic, impacting both air quality and the climtate. I contribute to this article in Out This Year about why this is not all good news ..read more
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Fires, Toxic Fumes, Heat Waves: The Hellish Australian Summer
On A Clear Day
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4y ago
There was a lot of international attention on Australia during the summer bushfire crisis, which produced a plume of smoke that circled the globe as Australian cities experienced the worst air quality in the world. I was interviewed by Le Monde for this story ..read more
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Australia's National Air Pollution Targets
On A Clear Day
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4y ago
National Environment Protections Measures (NEPMs) establish air quality standards in Australia, and the ambient air quality NEPM for ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide is currently under review. Submissions received can be viewed here, including mine. Inconsistent state government action on air pollution means that Australia needs strong national standards, as well as compliance monitors and enforcement mechanisms: The NSW government has dropped its clean air strategy, and there is no word on the Victorian air quality strategy due to be released last year ..read more
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Podcast: Air Quality and IPCC Climate Report
On A Clear Day
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4y ago
You can listen to me talk about air quality in Australia to Claire Farrugia from 3CR's Lost in Science show, on an episode that also looks at the last IPCC climate report ..read more
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