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


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.

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Asian residents are exposed to nine times more air pollution than Americans or Europeans According to the World Health Organisation, about 88 percent of premature deaths in low- and middle-income countries in Asia can be attributed to air pollution.

Car cabin pollution scare prompts calls for new air conditioning rules Experts have called for the regulation of car air conditioning systems after new trials revealed that popular models are letting in dangerous amounts of pollution.

The dangers of smoke inhalation Smoke can irritate air passages, the skin and the eyes, leading to coughing and wheezing, breathlessness and chest pain. It can also exacerbate asthma and, in some cases, the pungent smell and air pollution can cause headaches, nausea and dizziness.

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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 may increase the chance of developing dementia, a study has suggested, in fresh evidence that the health of people of all ages is at risk from breathing dirty air.

People over 50 in areas with the highest levels of nitrogen oxide in the air showed a 40% greater risk of developing dementia than those with the least NOx pollution, according to the research, based on data from London.

The observational study, published in the BMJ Open journal on Wednesday, cannot establish that air pollution was a direct cause of the dementia cases. However, the authors said the link between higher pollution and higher levels of dementia diagnosis could not be explained by other factors known to raise risks of the disease.

Air pollution has already been linked with cardiovascular and respiratory disease, but this is one of the first studies to examine links with neurodegenerative illness. Frank Kelly, professor of environmental health at King’s College London and one of the authors of the paper, told the Guardian: “The study outcome suggests a linkage [between air pollution and dementia] but cannot inform on the cause. However, I believe that we now have sufficient knowledge to add air pollution to the list of risk factors for dementia. Our calculations suggest that it elevates risk by 7%, so [that would suggest] approximately 60,000 of the total 850,000 dementia cases in the UK, in mathematical terms.”

The new findings add to a growing body of recent research on the wide-ranging effects of air pollution. Earlier this week, Unicef warned of the risk to children from the “toxic” school run, while evidence that particles of pollutants can cross into placentas has just been published.

A ground-breaking study from China recently found a “huge” reduction in intelligence associated with breathing dirty air, equivalent to losing a year’s education.

The Kings College London study adds to previous research suggesting a link with dementia, but scientists warned that the results must be taken cautiously because the observational study could not closely track other possible causes such as lifestyle factors or the relative economic deprivation of the patients studied, or the amount of air pollution each was subject to individually.

The study used estimates of air and noise pollution levels across London and correlated these with anonymised patient health records for 131,000 patients aged between 50 and 79 at 75 GP practices within the M25. Their health was tracked for seven years from 2005, during which period 1.7% of the patients were diagnosed with dementia. Their exposure to air pollution was estimated based on their home postcodes.

Martie Van Tongeren, a professor of occupational and environmental health at Manchester University, who was not involved, said: “There is a growing body of evidence of the link between air pollution and brain health, including dementia and Alzheimer’s. This study adds to this body of evidence and fits with some of the previous studies. As most people in the UK live in urban areas, exposure to traffic-related and other air pollutants is ubiquitous. Hence, even a relatively small increase in risk will result in a large public health impact.”

The paper’s authors said a link between poor air quality and dementia could begin early in life. They wrote: “Traffic related air pollution has been [linked to] poorer cognitive development in young children, and continued significant exposure may produce neuroinflammation and altered brain innate immune responses in early adulthood.”

Campaigners called on the government to take urgent action on air pollution. Simon Alcock, head of UK public affairs for ClientEarth, which has repeatedly taken the government to court over its failures on air quality, called for a national clean air bill backed by an independent watchdog, and clean air zones in the most polluted areas. He said: “Air pollution is damaging our health from the womb to old age. It is unacceptable in 2018 for people to be risking dementia just by breathing.”

Road traffic should be the focus of efforts to clean up our air, as it is the leading cause of the health problems, added Aaron Kiely, air pollution campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “Efforts to clean up our cars, vans and lorries must be put in the fast lane – we can’t afford to wait until 2040 for most new vehicles to be zero-emission,” he said. “Greater investment is also needed in alternatives to motor vehicles, such as safer cycling infrastructure, and affordable and convenient public transport.”

A Defra spokesperson said levels of air pollution, including NOx, had fallen and the government was taking further action: “By ending the sale of conventional new diesel and petrol cars and vans by 2040, we are acting faster to tackle air pollution than almost every other major developed economy.”

Labour slammed ministers for failing to address air pollution, which regularly exceeds legal limits in many areas, particularly in London. Sue Hayman, shadow environment secretary, said: “It is simply not good enough for Michael Gove to shunt this problem on to cash-strapped local councils, publish strategies on wood burners and drag his feet on new legislation. [We] would bring forward a new Clean Air Act and a network of clean air zones to tackle the UK’s illegal levels of air pollution in the quickest time possible.”

via Air pollution linked to much greater risk of dementia | Environment | The Guardian

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Green solid fuels contributing to ‘extraordinarily high levels of air pollution’, report finds

Dublin’s air pollution levels have been found to breach healthy standards.

Researchers at NUI Galway looked at a two-month period between November 2016 and January 2017.

They found the recorded pollution levels breached the World Health Organisation’s limits every one in five days.

During the late evenings, hourly levels were frequently ten times the recommended guidelines.


Researchers say most of the high levels were down to peat and wood burning during colder winter nights.

AEROSOURCE, the first national air pollution network of its kind, attributed 70% of the extraordinarily-high pollution levels during these events to peat and wood burning, despite only a small percentage of residential homes using peat or wood as a primary fuel type (13% based on the closest census data).

Professor Colin O’Dowd, Director of NUI Galway’s Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies, said: “The disproportionate sensitivity of air pollution levels to solid fuel, including climate-friendly ‘low-carbon’ solid biomass fuel is quite concerning since fuels like wood are one of the most popular choices of ‘low carbon’ biomass fuel and consumption of this fuel type is set to double across Europe by 2020 (from 2016), and to triple globally by 2030.

“The results from this study suggest that along with promoting low-carbon or carbon-neutral solid fuels, it is especially important to fully consider the health impact from any associated air pollution emission.”

via Green solid fuels contributing to ‘extraordinarily high levels of air pollution’, report finds | Irish Examiner

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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


Scientists have found the first evidence that particles of air pollution travel through pregnant women’s lungs and lodge in their placentas.

Toxic air is already strongly linked to harm in foetuses but how the damage is done is unknown. The new study, involving mothers living in London, UK, revealed sooty particles in the placentas of each of their babies and researchers say it is quite possible the particles entered the foetuses too.

“It is a worrying problem – there is a massive association between air pollution a mother breathes in and the effect it has on the foetus,” said Dr Lisa Miyashita, at Queen Mary University of London, one of the research team. “It is always good if possible to take less polluted routes if you are pregnant – or indeed if you are not pregnant. I avoid busy roads when I walk to the station.”

series of previous studies have shown that air pollution significantly increases the risk of premature birth and of low birth weight, leading to lifelong damage to health. A large study of more than 500,000 births in London, published in December, confirmed the link and led doctors to say that the implications for many millions of women in polluted cities around the world are “something approaching a public health catastrophe”.

Scientists are increasingly finding that air pollution results in health problems far beyond the lungs. In August, research revealed that air pollution causes a “huge” reduction in intelligence, while in 2016 toxic nanoparticles from air pollution were discovered in human brains.

The new research examined the placentas of five non-smoking women who all delivered healthy babies. The researchers isolated macrophage cells, which are part of the body’s immune system and engulf harmful particles such as bacteria and air pollution.

Using an optical microscope, they found 72 dark particles among 3,500 cells and then used a powerful electron microscope to examine the shape of some of the particles. They looked very like the sooty particles found in macrophages in the lung, which catch many – but not all – of the particles.

While further analysis is needed for final confirmation, Dr Miyashita said: “We can’t think of anything else they could be. It is very evident to us they are black sooty particles.” Earlier experiments have shown that particles breathed in by pregnant animals go through the bloodstream into placentas.

“We do not know whether the particles we found could also move across into the foetus, but our evidence suggests this is indeed possible,” said Dr Norrice Liu, also at Queen Mary University of London and part of the team. “We also know that the particles do not need to get into the baby’s body to have an adverse effect, because if they have an effect on the placenta, this will have a direct impact on the foetus.”

The research is being presented Sunday at the European Respiratory Society’s (ERS) international congress in Paris. “This research suggests a possible mechanism of how babies are affected by pollution while being theoretically protected in the womb,” said Prof Mina Gaga, who is ERS president and at the Athens Chest Hospital in Greece.

“This should raise awareness amongst doctors and the public regarding the harmful effects of air pollution in pregnant women,” she said, noting that harm to foetuses can occur even below current European Union pollution limits. “We need stricter policies for cleaner air to reduce the impact of pollution on health worldwide because we are already seeing a new population of young adults with health issues.”

Unicef executive director Anthony Lake recently warned of the danger of air pollution to babies: “Not only do pollutants harm babies’ developing lungs, they can permanently damage their developing brains – and, thus, their futures.”

Separate research, also presented at the ERS congress, found that children with early onset and persistent asthma fared far less well in education than those without the condition. Asthma in children has long been linked to air pollution.

The study, conducted over 20 years in Sweden, showed that children with asthma were three and half times more likely to leave school at the age of 16 with only basic education and were also twice as likely to drop out of university courses.

Dr Christian Schyllert, at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, said: “This study suggests [these] children have worse life chances when it comes to their education and their future jobs.” He said one possible reason could be that children with asthma are known to have lower school attendance.

via Air pollution particles found in mothers’ placentas | Environment | The Guardian

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‘Air pollution killing more Ghanaians than AIDS, malaria combined’


Mr Muntaka Chasant, a social entrepreneur concerned with the health effects of air pollution in developing cities, has cautioned that air pollution now kills more people in Ghana than malaria and AIDS combined.

He, therefore, called for urgent measures to address the country’s deteriorating air quality.

He said toxic fumes from car exhausts, open burning of garbage and biomass, road dust, the use of inefficient cook-stoves and polluting fuels indoors were causing millions of premature deaths annually, a problem which was being overlooked in Ghana and in many low and middle income countries.

Mr Chasant, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra, said estimates from the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that more than 28,000 annual deaths in Ghana are attributable to air pollution and recently the country’s annual air quality is more than five times above WHO’s recommended safe level.

He indicated that air pollution is a leading stroke risk factor and causes more than 20 per cent of global stroke burden, adding that lung cancer, ischemic heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are also associated with air pollution.

Mr Chasant said:  “Air pollution is prevalent in most parts of Ghana, with the surrounding areas near Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Ghana’s premier healthcare facility, being one of the hotspots in the country. The nearby areas include James Town, Chorkor, and Agbogbloshie, a notorious electronics waste dumping ground, where roughly 40,000 Ghanaians reside.”

He drew the attention of the public to a 2018 study by a scientist, Jennifer Burney, and others, which estimates that air pollution was responsible for 449,000 infant deaths in sub-Saharan Africa in 2015, about one-fifth of infant deaths in the Region.

Mr Chasant urged Ghana’s Environmental Protection Agency and other stakeholders responsible for the protection of the environment, to intensify efforts to tackle the problem of air pollution.

“I think that developing cities are at a crossroads. On the one hand we have to pursue growth relentlessly to better the lives of our people, and on the other hand our methods are causing the early deaths of millions of the same people.  The mess we have made of our environment is increasingly diminishing the possibilities of survival of the next generation,” he said.

Mr Chasant suggested rigid and urgent measures to solve the problem, saying; “We need to start serious countrywide air quality monitoring and reporting. Without data showing that global or national standards are being breached, there will be little urge for authorities to act.”

“We need to consider taxing or limiting the number of polluting cars entering the city centers, and I think it will also benefit us if we look at waste recycling technologies and other municipal waste incineration options again.”

via ‘Air pollution killing more Ghanaians than AIDS, malaria combined’ – BusinessGhana News | General

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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


Air pollution is now “the biggest environmental risk” to public health in Europe but governments are failing to adequately deal with the crisis, the EU Court of Auditors has found.

Europe’s air pollution limits are “much weaker” than WHO guidelines – and most EU countries do not comply with them anyway, according to the damning new report.

Toxic air kills an estimated 400,000 Europeans before their time each year – up to 40,000 of them in Britain. But the UK government has been in breach of EU air quality limits since 2010 and now faces multimillion pound fines at the European court.

“Why should anyone believe the Tories’ claims to lead a ‘Green Brexit’ when they can’t even meet basic pollution targets already set at the EU level?” he asked. “Time is running out to protect those at risk and this government has shown time and time again that it is not willing to do so.”

The UK was one of 11 countries last month accused by the European Environmental Bureau of using an “inventory adjustment” loophole to effectively raise the limit on its past nitrogen dioxide emissions.

“The government has become a danger to the British people,” Dance said.

In their audit, the EU court calls for Europe’s air quality laws to be brought in line with WHO standards, which are at least twice as exacting for particulate (PM2.5 and PM10) emissions and six times stricter for sulphur dioxide (SO2).

Janusz Wojciechowski, the audit’s lead reporter, told the Guardian that the scale of the silent death toll from poisoned air was “not acceptable”.

“We have a public health crisis in Europe because of air pollution,” he said. “More than 1,000 premature deaths every day across the EU [and] more than 1% of the daily total of deaths in the EU. This is 10 times higher than the number of car accident [deaths].”

“Air pollution should be treated as a priority by the EU,” he added. “We hope that in the next financial period it will be.”

Wojciechowski noted that the bloc currently spends €3.4bn of its cohesion funds on highly polluting biomass – almost twice as much as the €1.8bn it reserves for fighting air pollution.

The auditors’ paper advises a reassessment of Europe’s funding priorities – and a speeding up of the current six to eight year delay before referring violations of law on to the European court.

The auditors also observed widely diverging standards for pollution monitoring stations.

One, in Ostrava in the Czech Republic, did not report validated data despite exceeding its daily particulates limit 98 times in 2015. Another, close to the European commission offices in Brussels, was closed “due to works” after reporting very high nitrogen dioxide readings in 2008. It never reopened.

There was a risk that the monitoring data used by the European commission was “not always credible,” Wojciechowski said.

via Air pollution is ‘biggest environmental health risk’ in Europe | Environment | The Guardian

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Large trucks are biggest culprits of near-road air pollution

A new study reveals large diesel trucks to be the greatest contributors to harmful black carbon emissions close to major roadways, indicating that vehicle types matter more than traffic volume for near-road air pollution.


For the 30 per cent of Canadians who live within 500 metres of a major roadway, a new study reveals that the type of vehicles rolling past their homes can matter more than total traffic volume in determining the amount of air pollution they breathe.

A two-year U of T Engineering study has revealed large trucks to be the greatest contributors to black carbon emissions close to major roadways. Professor Greg Evans hopes these results gets city planners and residents thinking more about the density of trucks, rather than the concentration of vehicle traffic, outside their homes, schools and daycares. The study was recently published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

“I’ve been asked by people, ‘We live near a high-traffic area, should we be worried?’ My response is that it’s not so much about how much traffic there is, it’s more about the percentage of trucks, older trucks in particular.”

The comprehensive study — led by Evans and collaborators at Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, as well as the Metro Vancouver Regional District — involved measuring vehicle emissions near roads in Vancouver and Toronto, including the 401, North America’s busiest stretch of highway.

The difference between emission levels across the sites was more correlated with the number of large trucks on the road rather than number of cars.

Researchers found that air pollution levels right beside a major trucking route within a city were close to levels seen beside Highway 401, despite the road carrying less than one-tenth of the vehicle traffic. “This was in part due to differences in wind and proximity to the road but, surprisingly, the number of vehicles didn’t make that much of a difference,” said Evans.

The data also revealed a significant drop in emissions on the 401 on the weekends, when personal vehicle traffic is still very high, but the volume of large truck traffic is low.

Research consistently links traffic emissions to negative effects on both the environment and human health. “Whether it be cancer, respiratory problems, cardiac problems or neurodegenerative problems, there are numerous adverse health effects associated with the chemicals in these emissions,” said Evans. “If we were able to reduce emission of pollutants like black carbon, we would also see an immediate climate benefit.” Black carbon — commonly called soot — is a marker for exposure to diesel exhaust which is known to have negative health effects.

Evans points out that modern trucks have made large improvements in their emissions — it’s the older diesel trucks that are the real culprits. “Those big, 18-wheeler diesel trucks last for a long time. We need to push to retrofit these old trucks with better emission treatment systems. Simply retrofitting the worse offending trucks, or getting them off the road, is a tremendous opportunity to improve air quality in our cities.”

The study will be part of a larger report in December that will stress the importance of implementing long-term monitoring of traffic related air pollution in Canada, and indicating that targeting high-emitting vehicles such as old trucks can provide a path towards improving near-road air quality.

In the meantime, Evans hopes the study gets Canadians thinking about the effects of working, playing and living near truck-related air pollution. “When a cyclist is riding near a large truck and they see a large plume of soot coming out — it’s important for them to be aware. Although shipping freight and construction by truck are critical to our economy, people need to know about the negative effects. There are ways that we can achieve a better balance.”

Story Source:

Materials provided by University of Toronto Faculty of Applied Science & EngineeringNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

via Large trucks are biggest culprits of near-road air pollution — ScienceDaily

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New Study Links Air Pollution to Dementia

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There’s no question that air pollution is bad for your body, from lung cancer to heart disease. Even President Trump’s coal-friendly U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) admits that dirty air can increase adverse health effects and cause death.

Now, researchers from Arizona State University have determined another air pollution risk: dementia.

The new paper, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, compared fifteen years of Medicare records for 6.9 million older adults with the EPA’s air quality data. They tested whether these individuals’ onset of dementia was correlated with long-term exposure to tiny pollution particles known as PM2.5.

Indeed, the researchers found that a 1 microgram-per-cubic-meter (μg/m³) increase of PM2.5 over the course of a decade increases a person’s odds of receiving a dementia diagnosis by 1.3 percentage points.

PM2.5, which is particulate matter with a length of 2.5 microns or less, is often a cocktail of toxins from power plants, automobiles and other industrial sources.

The World Health Organization has PM2.5 guidelines of 10 μg/m³—a threshold that 95 percent of the world’s population does not meet.

The good news is that average PM2.5 concentrations have decreased in the U.S. from 13.5 μg/m³ in 2000 to 8.0 μg/m³ in 2017, thanks to the EPA’s strict air pollution regulations.

As the paper was authored by economists, they concluded that air pollution regulations have helped the U.S. save money to the tune of $150 billion since the year 2000, as Slate noted from the study.

The bad news is the Trump administration could roll back these protections. Last month, in efforts to replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan that regulates coal plants, EPA acting administrator Andrew Wheeler released the “Affordable Clean Energy Rule,” which projects 470 and 1,400 premature deaths annually by 2030 due to increased rates of PM2.5.

Other studies have found a link between air pollution and damage to the brain. A study in May suggested that many heavy metals found in the air may make it into brain tissue, and those pollutants are activating genes that may lead to cancers or neurodegenerative disorders. Additionally, a China-based study published last month found that high levels of toxic air “is equivalent to having lost a year of education.”

via New Study Links Air Pollution to Dementia

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German court says Frankfurt must ban older diesel cars

Frankfurt, Germany’s financial center, must ban highly-polluting, older diesel vehicles from the city center from next February as part of a plan to improve air quality, the country’s administrative court ruled on Wednesday.

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The decision by the court in Wiesbaden on a case brought by environmental group Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) came after a landmark ruling by Germany’ top administrative court in February opened the door to inner-city bans.

The ban would affect about a quarter of cars registered in Frankfurt and numerous commuters who live around the city.

DUH leader Juergen Resch said the decision would help accelerate the shift to electric cars and called on Chancellor Angela Merkel to force carmakers to pay to retrofit diesel vehicles with exhaust-cleaning systems to avoid a ban.

The regional government of Hessen also called for a speedy reaction from Berlin on retrofits, which the car industry has lobbied against because it could cost billions of euros.

“We want a fundamental solution to this problem, rather than driving bans,” state premier Volker Bouffier and Environment Minister Priska Hinz said in a joint statement.

Merkel has said she will do everything possible to avoid driving bans but disagreements over how to tackle the problem of diesel cars with high nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions have strained her coalition with the Social Democrats.

The ruling comes a day after Mercedes-Benz unveiled its much-anticipated electric SUV, marking the start of a German onslaught against Tesla’s dominance of the fast-growing market for premium battery cars.

The court ruled that Frankfurt must ban from next February diesel cars that meet Euro-4 and older emission standards, and petrol cars that meet Euro-1 and 2 standards, while Euro-5 diesels must be banned from next September.

“The driving ban is necessary because all other measures considered by the state will not lead to a significant reduction of nitrogen dioxide emissions in an appropriate time,” said presiding judge Rolf Hartmann.

The court also ordered other measures to cut pollution in Frankfurt such as more electric buses, higher parking fees and more park-and-ride places on the outskirts of the city.

DUH has argued that banning diesels is the only way for Frankfurt to meet European Union clean air rules which stipulate that nitrogen dioxide pollution should not exceed 40 micrograms per cubic meter of air on average.

“We need to understand that this is about a threat to our health,” Hartmann said in his opening remarks, adding that this was not merely a niche matter for environmentalists.

Pollution levels have regularly exceeded the limit since 2010, the court heard.

The city of Hamburg this year voluntarily blocked diesel models that fail to meet the latest Euro-6 emissions standards from using selected trunk roads. Other cities including Aachen, Duesseldorf and Stuttgart, home to Daimler and Porsche (VOWG_p.DE), are also considering bans.

The threat of bans on diesel vehicles has already led to higher sales of petrol engine cars in Germany, which are less fuel efficient and cause more carbon dioxide pollution.

This in turn makes it harder for carmakers to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, increasing pressure on them to push electric or hybrid vehicles.

via German court says Frankfurt must ban older diesel cars | Reuters

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