Science & Nature Round-Up: Cleaner air on the way to Danish cities – The Post

Science & Nature Round-Up: Cleaner air on the way to Danish cities

In other stories, the warm and dry weather has seen forest fires breaking out, measles is still a problem and a new silverfish type has been discovered

The government wants to cut premature deaths in cities caused by carcinogenic particles from diesel vehicles (photo: Sendelbach)
May 8th, 2019 11:44 am| by Stephen Gadd

Yesterday, a broad majority in Parliament passed a law enabling the tightening up of environmental zones and stopping older diesel-powered lorries, buses and vans from entering a number of Danish cities unless they have a particle filter fitted.

The law singles out Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Aarhus, Odense and Aalborg, leaving it up to the cities themselves to decide whether or not to implement the enhanced zones. If fully implemented, the measure could reduce soot particle emissions by up to 25 percent.

Additionally, the government wants to make it more difficult for people to get around the new regulations. A digital control system will be introduced that reads vehicle number-plates automatically to minimise inconvenience caused to commercial traffic by physical zone boundaries.

New stoves for old
In this connection, the premium paid out to people as in incentive to scrap ageing diesel vehicles has already been raised to 5,000 kroner. So far, 10,000 vehicle owners have taken advantage of this.

A financial incentive scheme has also seen as many as 5,000 households getting rid of their old wood-burning stoves, or replacing them with newer ones.

Fire in Thy National Park
Yesterday afternoon a fire broke out in Stenbjerg Klitplantage, part of the national park in Thy, northwest Jutland. The local emergency service Nordjyllands Beredskab sent 15-16 vehicles with around 70 firefighters to fight the fire, as well as a drone. The firefighters had to contend with a number of problems as the park was extremely dry, it was very windy and there was a shortage of water, reports TV2 Nyheder. Late yesterday the fire was contained and efforts to extinguish it completely were continuing overnight. “There are good indications that we’ve now been able to stop the fire spreading,” said René Klerup, the chief duty officer of Nordjyllands Beredskab. A similar fire in the area in 2004 took three weeks to extinguish.

Two new measles cases detected
The Danish State Serum Institute has revealed that two more people have been diagnosed with measles. One is a female tourist from Russia who arrived at the end of April and was already sick on the way here, while the other is a young Danish man from the Capital Region. The two cases are not connected. “The virus is the same strain as the one going around in Denmark in February and March when the source of the infection was Val Thorens,” said Peter Henrik Andersen, a senior doctor from SSI. The institute has asked Aeroflot for a passenger list to track any other people who could have come into contact with the woman. The young man appears to have been infected in Denmark.

New silverfish type identified in Danish homes
Recently, a new variety of a common household pest has been identified in Danish homes: the grey, or long tailed, silverfish (Ctenolepisma longicaudata). The wingless insects consume anything containing polysaccharides, including book bindings, carpet, clothing, coffee, glue, hair, some paints, paper, photos, plaster, and foodstuffs such as sugar, flour and porridge oats. “If silverfish are in one type of food, then the grey silverfish are in 50. They crawl better and are more wide-ranging,” said Claus Schultz, an operative at pest exterminators Rentokil, told TV2 Nyhder. The new variety are much more widespread in the home and very difficult to eradicate. It is not known why they have suddenly appeared.

Extremely low genetic diversity in narwhales
Accepted scientific wisdom has been that in order to survive, a species needs to have a high rate of genetic diversity. However, researchers from the Natural History Museum of Denmark have discovered something of a conundrum when it comes to the narwhale. Mapping the DNA of a narwhale from west Greenland has shown that its genome goes back millions of years, and yet the species seems to thrive as there are around 170,000 in the waters round Greenland, Canada, Svalbard and Russia. However, there are signs that overfishing rather than a lack of genetic diversity is depleting the species in some areas.