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Air pollution linked to much greater risk of dementia Risk in over-50s increases by 40% where highest nitrogen oxide levels exist, study shows

Air pollution particles found in mothers’ placentas New research shows direct evidence that toxic air – already strongly linked to harm in unborn babies – travels through mothers’ bodies

Air pollution is ‘biggest environmental health risk’ in Europe Governments are failing to tackle the crisis that causes 1,000 early deaths a day, says damning EU report

Posted in Air Quality

REVIEW: Respro® Ultralight™ Mask: Best cycle mask for hot conditions

respro_ultralight_best_bike_mask

Respro® is the world leader in bike pollution mask sales, and while its masks might look a little sinister, their N99-rated filtering technology certainly does the job. The Ultralight is our favourite from Respro’s range: its mesh-like stretchy fabric keeps you cool when it’s hot and humid, and a double-valve filter makes it easy to breathe, even when you’re pedalling hard to get to the office on time. The Hepa Sport 2.5 PM filters on the Respro® Ultralight are replaceable, and you can buy specialised filters designed to reduce allergic reactions or eliminate bad smells.

by expertReviews

Posted in Air Quality, Cycling, Respro® Mask Reviews, Respro® Products | Tagged , ,

RESPRO® TUBULAR ALL PURPOSE SCARF

This limited edition tubular ‘Talking Heads’ scarf, has a black and white print, created especially for Respro® by artist Margo of Margate. It is the perfect accompaniment to any Respro® mask. It can be used as a cover for our Street Smart or EV mask range, or simply as a head or neck scarf while out in the windy weather. Our print makes a ’ Clean Air For All’ statement while making you look and feel cool.

Talking Heads scarf

 

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Delhi chokes: Air quality dips to ‘very poor’; will deteriorate further, says pollution board

The overall Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi was recorded at 315 and the overall air quality has dipped to ‘very poor’ category. As per the Pollution Control Board, the worst was recorded from Dwarka Sector-8.

delhiOnce again the national capital is soon to become a gas chamber, the air quality deteriorates to ‘very poor’ category for the first time in the season on Wednesday. The overall Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi was recorded at 315. An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered ‘good’, 51 and 100 ‘satisfactory’, 101 and 200 ‘moderate’, 201 and 300 ‘poor’, 301 and 400 ‘very poor’ and 401 and 500 ‘severe’.

As per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the worst was recorded from Dwarka Sector-8, 376, followed by Anand Vihar at 358, Jahangirpuri 333, Rohini 330 and ITO at 295. According to news agency PTI, the air quality will deteriorate further as the forecast mentioned that in coming days the PM10 level will reach 341 and the PM2.5 level 159.

via Delhi chokes: Air quality dips to ‘very poor’; will deteriorate further, says pollution board

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Moss rapidly detects, tracks air pollutants in real time

Moss, one of the world’s oldest plants, is surprisingly in tune with the atmosphere around it. Now in a study appearing in ACS’ journal Analytical Chemistry, scientists report that they have found a simple and inexpensive way to detect air pollutants, specifically sulfur dioxide, in real time based on subtle changes in moss leaves. The discovery could rapidly alert authorities to potentially dangerous alterations in air quality using a sustainable, natural plant sensor.

Plants have evolved the ability to sense light, touch, gravity and chemicals in the air and soil, allowing them to adapt and survive in changing environments. Thus, plants have been used in studies to assess the long-term damage caused by accumulated air pollution worldwide. However, this type of study requires skilled personnel and expensive instrumentation. Xingcai Qin, Nongjian Tao and colleagues wanted to develop an easier way to use moss, a particularly good indicator of sulfur dioxide pollution, as a rapid, real-time sensor.

The researchers gathered wild moss and exposed it to various concentrations of sulfur dioxide in a chamber. Using a highly sensitive, inexpensive webcam, the research team found that moss leaves exposed to sulfur dioxide slightly shrank or curled and changed color from green to yellow. Some of these changes, analyzed with an imaging algorithm, began within 10 seconds of exposure to the pollutant. However, once the sulfur dioxide was removed from the chamber, the moss leaves gradually recovered. This result suggests that the plant, unlike traditional colorimetric sensors, can regenerate its chemical sensing capacity. The researchers conclude that combining remote webcams or drones with moss or other plant-based sensors could lead to cheaper, faster and more precise monitoring of the air for sulfur dioxide and other pollutants over vast regions.

via Moss rapidly detects, tracks air pollutants in real time — ScienceDaily

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California vessel emissions rules could get even tougher

Hydrus-photo-by-Incat-port-side-800x533-702x336Air pollution regulators are looking to tighten California’s air emissions rules for commercial vessels, already the strictest in the nation.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced it is beginning a new rulemaking process to modify the state’s existing Commercial Harbor Craft Rule.

Now in its implementation phase, the rule makes California the only state in the U.S. that requires most vessels with older engines — pre-dating the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency diesel emissions standards, or just meeting Tier 1 standards — to be repowered with newer Tier 2 or Tier 3 engines before the end of their economic lives.

Yet CARB staff contends commercial vessel operations in state waters “will continue to contribute a significant amount of diesel particulate matter risk after full implementation of the current regulation in 2023,” according to CARB’s notice of rulemaking intent.

The notice initiates a fact-finding process that includes seeking input from the maritime industry and other stakeholders. CARB is proposing to complete that and have a rule proposal ready to present to board members in 2020. The agency has created a list server where interested parties can sign up to track the process and receive notifications.

That next step would bring on more stringent requirements for tugboats and other freight-related vessels, and for passenger vessels including ferries and excursion boats. The CARB staff will also look at the feasibility of retrofitting existing vessels with Tier 4 propulsion, advanced emission control devices, hybrid power and alternative fuels.

California asserts state regulatory control over air emissions within 24 nautical miles of its coastline, so its requirements are a huge consideration for vessel operators, designers and builders on the West Coast. Many have been anticipating a future of even tougher air pollution limits, designing new vessels to approach or even meet Tier 4-like performance below the EPA horsepower thresholds.

The San Francisco Bay Ferry’s new Hydrus-class 400-passenger ferries are powered by MTU 12V4000M64 engines, nominally rated at Tier 3, but delivering Tier 4 performance with a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system designed by Pacific Power Group, Kent., Wash.

Meanwhile, California port authorities are pushing toward reducing emissions from their operations, including repowering harbor tugs and converting cranes and trucks from diesel to all-electric operation. In April the Port of Long Beach launched a “zero emissions” pilot project to test newly electrified equipment, financed with a $9.7 million grant from the California Energy Commission.

via California vessel emissions rules could get even tougher | WorkBoat

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Beijing turns nose up at perfumes in war on smog

beijingHair gel and perfumes have become the latest targets in China’s war on smog.

Scientists and researchers claim that “daily life emissions” from household items containing volatile organic compounds, including air fresheners and kitchen cleaners, are to blame for 12 per cent of the air pollutants in the city, as much as industrial emissions.

Car emissions, especially those from diesel-powered vehicles, are the single largest source of pollution, China said, contributing nearly half of the air pollutants in the city.

Beijing has vowed to clean up the city’s foul air and it has taken some drastic measures, including ordering a fifth of the city’s 5.6 million cars off the roads every weekday and shutting down heavy-polluting factories in the region. Villagers in Beijing’s suburbs have had to huddle for warmth when authorities banned coal burning for winter heating.

The capital cut its pollution levels by about 35 per cent between 2013 and 2017. Last week its environmental protection bureau said that the average concentration of PM2.5, the tiny, harmful particulate matter, fell almost 17 per cent in the first nine months of this year, compared with the previous period, but it is far from what is deemed safe. There was thick smog yesterday with PM2.5 reaching more than 150 micrograms per cubic metre. World Health Organisation guidelines state that the 24-hour average of PM2.5 should be kept below 25 micrograms per cubic metre to be deemed safe.

The city was shrouded in thick smog yesterday, with the density of PM2.5 reaching more than 150 micrograms per metre cubed. The WHO guidelines state that the 24-hour average of PM2.5 should be below 25 micrograms per metre cubed to be deemed safe.

Tang Xiaoyan, a professor at Peking University, warned that emissions from household items may appear insignificant but should not be ignored. When the city’s air turned foul days before the 2008 Olympics, authorities ordered city-wide closures of laundry services, which helped turn the air quality around on the eve of the Games, Mr Tang told the Science and Technology Daily.

Wang Gengchen, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Atmospheric Physics Institute, told the state-run Global Times that Beijing should tackle indirect pollution sources while measures against vehicles and coal burning are already strict enough.

He said that the volatile organic compounds, common in many household products, generate tiny pollutants through a series of physical and chemical reactions. Chinese scientists have relied on sales data of perfume, hair spray, detergents and cleaners in estimating the amounts of volatile organic compounds released through daily use and their share in causing the foul air.

via Beijing turns nose up at perfumes in war on smog | World | The Times

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Delhi’s air quality set to worsen as stubble burning intensifies

Based on data from monitoring stations, Air Quality Index for Delhi was recorded at 246 (poor) on Monday

delhipollutionAir quality in the national capital region is likely to deteriorate as burning of paddy stubble by farmers in Punjab and Haryana intensifies over the next fortnight.

According to the environment ministry, fire-related incidents are 75% and 40% lower in Punjab and Haryana, respectively, so far but that may not be a reason to cheer. The paddy grown in summer in Punjab was sown late this year by a week, while both Punjab and Haryana witnessed unseasonal rains in end-September, which has delayed harvesting by about 10 days because of a rise in crop moisture levels. Air quality is likely to worsen as more farmers begin harvesting.

The situation is however likely to be better than last year when a dust storm, stubble burning and Diwali celebrations took place around 19 October. This year, Diwali falls on 7 November.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) for Delhi was recorded at 246 (poor) on Monday at 4 pm, on the basis of data collected from 31 monitoring stations. An AQI between 0-50 is considered ‘good’, 51-100 ‘satisfactory’, 101-200 ‘moderate’, 201-300 ‘poor’, 301-400 ‘very poor’, and 401-500 ‘severe’. According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), air quality is set to worsen, as levels of two main pollutants, PM 2.5 and PM 10, is likely to increase in the next three days.

“We can plan better if we have advance information on air quality. Last year, we were caught surprised when a dust storm from Gulf countries led to spike in pollution levels. This year, at least we would be able to forewarn people and take proactive measures,” environment minister Harsh Vardhan said on Monday at the launch of an early warning system that can issue air quality forecast three days in advance.

“It is difficult to predict how bad it is going to be,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director at the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment. “Right now, from the satellite images we can see some (stubble) burning but end October will be the real test of government measures,” she said.

Farmers in Punjab and Haryana usually burn the paddy straw after combine harvesters leave a 7-8 inch stubble on the field following harvest, and farmers have to prepare the field for planting of wheat crop in two to three weeks. As the straw cannot be fed to cattle, the way out is on-field management of stubble by using machines such as straw management system, mulchers, rotavators and happy seeders.

The central and state governments have announced 50-80% subsidy on purchase of these machineries but have seen limited success. “The machinery is very expensive despite the subsidy and manufacturers raised prices after these subsidies were announced,” said Jagmohan Singh, a farmer leader.

“The number of machines that has been purchased on subsidy will not even cover 10% of Punjab’s paddy area… besides it costs farmers over ₹5,000 per acre for straw management by rented machines,” Singh said.

Farmer in these states are demanding a direct financial assistance of ₹200 per quintal of paddy harvested to account for straw management expenses. According to the agriculture ministry, 23 mt of paddy straw is burnt in Punjab, Haryana and UP every year, shooting up carbon dioxide levels in the air by 70%, triggering respiratory problems.

via Delhi’s air quality set to worsen as stubble burning intensifies – Livemint

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People burning wet wood on inefficient stoves ‘poisoning themselves’

Study highlights ‘shocking contribution’ of domestic wood and coal fires to air pollution, which causes 40,000 early deaths a year in the UK

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People burning wet wood on inefficient stoves are poisoning themselves and their neighbours, according to a new report from a leading thinktank.

The IPPR study highlights the “shocking contribution” domestic wood and coal fires make to the UK’s air pollution crisis, which causes 40,000 early deaths a year and devastating health problems for hundreds of thousands of others.

“For almost 2 million homes in the UK, solid fuels, particularly wood, are a part of everyday life,” said Josh Emden, research fellow at the IPPR and co-author of the report. “For many this is the enjoyment of a warm log fire, for others it is the only way to heat their homes – but the reality is that, without stringently tested, hyperefficient stoves and properly dried wood, people are unknowingly poisoning themselves, their children and their neighbours.”

Although many of the health problems caused by air pollution come from traffic fumes, the study points out that burning wood, coal or other solid fuels in the home is the largest single contributor to production of the most dangerous pollutant, known as particulate matter: tiny particles that penetrate deep into the body.

According to government figures, wood, coal and solid fuel fires in the home generate 40% of total PM2.5 – the smallest and most dangerous particulate. This is more than double the PM2.5 emissions from industrial combustion (16%) and more than three times as much as from road transport (12%).

The IPPR report calls on the government to ban the sale of wet wood and smoky coal in England no later than 2020 and commit to reduce all domestic PM2.5 emissions to as close to zero as possible by 2050.

Emden added that the government had to adopt tougher air pollution standards post-Brexit if it was to live up to its pledge to leave the environment in a better state than [it] found it.

“Communication of the problem in the government’s Clean Air Strategy is a start,” he said, “but this must be backed up by urgent policy action including stove standards that are stricter than EU regulations.”

Last year the Guardian revealed that that every person in London is breathing air that exceeds global guidelines for PM2.5.

The scale of the UK’s air pollution crisis has been underlined by a flurry of scientific studies over recent months showing the long-term damage air pollution is doing to people’s health, including connecting it with asthma, dementia, damage to unborn babies, and an increased risk of heart disease.

Last month the world’s biggest children’s charity, Unicef, told the Guardian it had refocused its UK operation to tackle air pollution because of the scale of the “health crisis” facing young people in the country.

The UK government has been widely criticised by clean air campaigners and environmental groups over what they say has been its failure to tackle the crisis. It has been defeated three times in court over its plans and is now one of six countries taken to European Court of Justice over them.

via People burning wet wood on inefficient stoves ‘poisoning themselves’ | Environment | The Guardian

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Air pollution may be linked to heightened mouth cancer risk: High levels of fine particulate matter and to lesser extent, ozone, may be key

High levels of air pollutants, especially fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and to a lesser extent, ozone, may be linked to a heightened risk of developing mouth cancer, suggests the first study of its kind, published online in the Journal of Investigative Medicine.

The number of new cases, and deaths from, mouth cancer is increasing in many parts of the world. Known risk factors include smoking, drinking, human papilloma virus, and in parts of South East Asia, the chewing of betel quid (‘paan’), a mix of ingredients wrapped in betel leaf.

Exposure to heavy metals and emissions from petrochemical plants are also thought to be implicated in the development of the disease, while air pollution, especially PM2.5, is known to be harmful to respiratory and cardiovascular health.

To find out if air pollutants might have a role in the development of mouth cancer, the researchers mined national cancer, health, insurance, and air quality databases.

They drew on average levels of air pollutants (sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and varying sizes of fine particulate matter), measured in 2009 at 66 air quality monitoring stations across Taiwan.

In 2012-13, they checked the health records of 482,659 men aged 40 and older who had attended preventive health services, and had provided information on smoking/betel quid chewing.

Diagnoses of mouth cancer were then linked to local area readings for air pollutants taken in 2009.

In 2012-13, 1617 cases of mouth cancer were diagnosed among the men. Unsurprisingly, smoking and frequent betel quid chewing were significantly associated with heightened risk of a diagnosis.

But so too were high levels of PM2.5. After taking account of potentially influential factors, increasing levels of PM2.5 were associated with an increasing risk of mouth cancer.

When compared with levels below 26.74 ug/m3, those above 40.37 ug/ m3 were associated with a 43 per cent heightened risk of a mouth cancer diagnosis.

A significant association was also observed for ozone levels below 28.69-30.97 parts per billion.

This is an observational study, and as such, can’t establish cause. And there are certain caveats to consider, say the researchers. These include the lack of data on how much PM2.5 enters the mouth, or on long term exposure to this pollutant.

Nor is it clear how air pollutants might contribute to mouth cancer, they acknowledge, and further research would be needed to delve further into this.

But some of the components of PM2.5 include heavy metals, as well as compounds such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons-known cancer causing agents-they say.

And the smaller diameter, but larger surface area, of PM2.5 means that it can be relatively easily absorbed while at the same time potentially wreaking greater havoc on the body, they suggest.

“This study, with a large sample size, is the first to associate oral cancer with PM2.5…These findings add to the growing evidence on the adverse effects of PM2.5 on human health,” they conclude.

via Air pollution may be linked to heightened mouth cancer risk: High levels of fine particulate matter and to lesser extent, ozone, may be key — ScienceDaily

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