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Air pollution linked to nearly 400,000 premature deaths  Fine particulate matter pollution caused 399,000 premature deaths in EU countries in 2014, according to the most recent estimates on the health impact of air pollution published Wednesday by the European Environment Agency (EEA).

Mothers’ exposure to air pollution tied to cellular changes in kids Women who breathe polluted air during pregnancy have babies with greater signs of “ageing” in their cells when they’re born compared to babies whose mothers breathed cleaner air, a new study finds.

Graded Response Action Plan to help improve Delhi’s air quality in force from today  India’s national capital will pin its hopes on the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) for the air quality to improve.

One million premature deaths linked to ozone air pollution Scientists at the University of York’s Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) have released new figures showing long-term exposure to ozone air pollution is linked to one million premature deaths per year due to respiratory diseases – more than double previous estimates.

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Bad behavior in teens linked to air pollution

A lack of clean air through pollution — and the foliage necessary to filter it out — in urban areas has been linked to bad behavior among 9- to 18-year-olds.

Tiny pollution particles called particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5), which measure 30 times smaller than a strand of hair, are extremely harmful to your health, especially to developing brains that shape the personalities of young people, a new study from the University of Southern California revealed.

“These tiny, toxic particles creep into your body, affecting your lungs and your heart,” the study’s lead author, Diana Younan, told the USC News. “Studies are beginning to show exposure to various air pollutants also causes inflammation in the brain. PM2.5 is particularly harmful to developing brains because it can damage brain structure and neural networks and, as our study suggests, influence adolescent behaviors.”

The study, published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, focused on Los Angeles. It saw that with heavy pollution, bad behavior in teenagers was exacerbated by poor parent-child relationships and the parents’ mental and social stress levels.

“Previous studies by others have shown that early exposure to lead disrupts brain development and increases aggressive behavior and juvenile delinquency,” Younan said. “It’s possible that growing up in places with unhealthy levels of small particles outdoors may have similar negative behavioral outcomes.”

For nine years, beginning when the 682 Los Angeles-based children involved in the study were 9 years old, parents completed a behavioral checklist on their kids every few years. The list was made up of 13 bad behaviors like lying, cheating, stealing, arson, truancy, vandalism and substance abuse.

Additionally, 25 air quality monitors were used to gauge pollution levels in Southern California from 2000 to 2014 and to measure the PM2.5 amounts outside the homes of each participant.

The researchers found that about 75% of the kids in the study were breathing air that was polluted beyond the recommended federal levels with some measuring at double that amount. The areas where this was most prevalent were in impoverished neighborhoods, some close to freeways, that lacked greenery. More delinquent behaviors were noted from African American boys in these areas.

“Poor people, unfortunately, are more likely to live in urban areas in less than ideal neighborhoods,” Younan said. “Many affordable housing developments are built near freeways. Living so close to freeways causes health problems such as asthma and, perhaps, alters teenagers’ brain structures so that they are more likely to engage in delinquent behavior.”

“Both lead and PM2.5 are environmental factors that we can clean up through a concerted intervention effort and policy change,” Younan said. “If you live in an area with high air pollution, like near a freeway or in a neighborhood with little greenery, try to avoid being outside so much and keep windows closed as much as possible when the ambient PM2.5 levels are high.”

via Bad behavior in teens linked to air pollution – NY Daily News

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Thomas Fire | Smoke impacts SLO County air quality

For the second day in a row, San Luis Obispo County residents have woken up to haze and an orange sun, as smoke from the Thomas Fire drifts this way.

The air quality ranged from good to moderate throughout the county on Monday, with the worst conditions in the Nipomo area and in North County, according to the SLO County Air Pollution Control District’s data map. Air quality in those areas was listed as moderate.

In San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay and Arroyo Grande, where smoke tinted the sky orange all day on Sunday, air quality was listed as good. The National Weather Service cautioned that smoke would impact the county on Monday and advised people to stay inside, drink plenty of fluids and take precautions while outdoors.

“It’s cleaner today than it was yesterday, generally speaking,” said Gary Willey, air pollution control officer for the SLO County Air Pollution Control District.

Willey said that the harmful particles carried by the smoke have been up in the upper atmosphere, so SLO County hasn’t seen any significant impact.

“There are no air quality alerts in our county,” Willey said. “We have some moderate conditions on the Nipomo Mesa, but it’s much lower than springtime dust levels on the Mesa at this point.”

Willey said county officials don’t currently have plans to distribute N95 masks in SLO County, but they are monitoring the air quality throughout the county on an hourly basis. He emphasized that though SLO County isn’t experiencing poor air quality, that could change based on wind and weather patterns.

“We have a fraction of what they have in Santa Barbara County,” Willey said. He added that air quality conditions in the county look to remain the same throughout the week, but “smoke can come into our county at any time.”

“We’ll definitely be on guard and monitoring it closely,” he said.

No local school districts canceled classes on Monday, but Nipomo High School announced it would not hold sports practices outside due to unsafe air quality. School districts in the Santa Maria area canceled classes on Monday due to poor air quality. They planned to reopen on Tuesday.

via Thomas Fire | Smoke impacts SLO County air quality | The Tribune

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4th Straight Spare the Air Alert Issued Across Bay Area

A Winter Spare the Air Alert has been issued for December 11 in the Bay Area, the fourth day in a row. Wood burning and manufactured fire logs are banned both indoors and outdoors from since Friday.

First-time violators of the Wood Burning Rule will be encouraged to take a wood smoke awareness course to learn more about the health impacts from wood smoke and the weather conditions that lead to unhealthy air quality in the winter. Those violators who choose not to take the course will receive a $100 ticket.

Second violations are subject to a $500 ticket, with the ticket amount increasing for any subsequent violations.

Air quality in the Bay Area is forecast to be unhealthy. It is illegal for Bay Area residents to burn wood or other solid fuels in fireplaces, wood stoves and inserts, pellet stoves, outdoor fire-pits, or other wood-burning devices.  This wood-burning ban will be in effect for Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, southern Sonoma and southwestern Solano Counties. (Visit www.sparetheair.org/Stay-Informed/Todays-Air-Quality/Reporting-Zones.aspx to see if your city is located within the Air District.)

Winter air pollution is mainly caused by particulates or soot pollution from wood smoke. Smoke from wood-burning fires is linked to illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis and lung disease, and is especially harmful for children and the elderly.

For more information about the Wood Burning Rule, or to check before you burn, visit www.sparetheair.org or call 1-877-4NO-BURN.

You can also call 1-800-430-1515 and register to receive automatic phone calls when a Winter Spare the Air Alert has been called.

To see the current air quality forecast visit www.sparetheair.org.

Download our FREE Spare the Air iPhone/Android application for alert notifications, local air quality forecasts, podcasts and several tools to help reduce air pollution.

Thank you for doing your part to Spare the Air!

This AirAlert is provided by your Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

Do not reply directly to this email. If you want more information on the air quality forecast, or other aspects of the local air quality program, please contact your local air quality agency using the information above. For more information on the U.S. EPA’s AIRNow Program, visit http://www.airnow.gov.

via 4th Straight Spare the Air Alert Issued Across Bay Area | East County Today

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Air Pollution May Harm Babies Even Before They Are Born

Air pollution may be harmful to babies even before they are born, a new study has found.

Researchers in London calculated mothers’ exposure to air pollution and traffic noise in various parts of the city from 2006 to 2010. Then they amassed data on birth weights of 540,365 babies born during those years to women who lived in those areas.

The average pollution exposure was 14 micrograms per cubic meter of PM 2.5, the tiny particles that easily enter the smallest airways in the lungs. The researchers found that for each 5 microgram per cubic meter increase in PM 2.5, the risk of low birth weight increased by 15 percent. Low birth weight is a predictor of an increased risk for diabetes, heart disease and hypertension in later life.

The study, in BMJ, found no effect of traffic noise on birth weight.

The Environmental Protection Agency standard for PM 2.5 is 12 micrograms per cubic meter averaged over three years, and the World Health Organization suggests 10 as a limit. But the lead author, Mireille B. Toledano, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, said that there really is no safe level of air pollution.

“For every 10 percent reduction in PM 2.5,” she said, “we can prevent 90 babies being born with low birth weight in London. The current limits are not protecting pregnant women, and they’re not protecting unborn babies.”

via Air Pollution May Harm Babies Even Before They Are Born – The New York Times

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Satellite images show extent of air pollution worldwide

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Image released by European Space Agency ESA on Friday, Dec. 1, 2017 shows pollution from power plants in India taken by Copernicus Sentinel-5P on Nov. 10, 2017. Sentinel-5P is the first Copernicus mission dedicated to monitoring our atmosphere. (KNMI/ESA via AP)

Images taken by a new European satellite show the levels and distribution of air pollutants around the world, including ash spewing from a volcano in Indonesia.
The European Space Agency released images Friday made by its Sentinel-5P satellite that show high concentrations of nitrogen dioxide in parts of Europe on Nov. 22.

Nitrogen dioxide is mainly caused by vehicle emissions and in industrial processes.

Another image shows high levels of carbon monoxide, commonly produce by fires, in Asia, Africa and South America.

A series of images also show sulfur dioxide, ash and smoke from the Mount Agung volcano in Bali last month.

Sentinel-5P, launched Oct. 13, can map levels of nitrogen dioxide, methane, carbon monoxide and other pollutants that can be hazardous to human health or contribute to global warming.

via Satellite images show extent of air pollution worldwide | Inquirer Technology

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After brief respite, Delhi again turns breathless

629895-pollution-air-delhi-111717A thick blanket of haze enveloped the National Capital on Sunday and the Air Quality Index (AQI) recorded “very poor” levels.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said pollution levels have spiked due to calm conditions, marked by low wind speed and moisture. As per IMD standards, “very poor” levels mean people may suffer from respiratory illness on prolonged exposure. On further dip in air quality, the AQI shows “severe” and “emergency” levels.

Millions began choking on foul air in the first week of November, forcing closure of schools, ban on entry of trucks and construction activities in Delhi.

After a brief respite, the situation is back to square one. The city government issued a health advisory, urging people to avoid smoking and go in for carpooling, among other things, to combat the situation.

AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria had compared the November situation in the city to the killer Great Smog of London in 1952. “Around 25,000 to 30,000 people may lose their lives in Delhi-NCR due to diseases exacerbated by pollution,” he had said.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) also attributed the rise in air pollution levels to the incursion of moisture in the air. Pollution monitoring and forecasting agency SAFAR predicted that concentration of PM2.5, more harmful owing to its extremely tiny size, and PM10 may rise over the weekend.

Skymet, however, has predicted light rain during that time, which will lead the pollution levels to reduce. “Rain will help in settling down the pollution present in the air. After this, winds are very likely to pick up pace leading to further dispersal of pollution,” Skymet said.

via After brief respite, Delhi again turns breathless | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis

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Pollution stops play at Delhi Test match as bowlers struggle to breathe

Sri Lanka say conditions in smog-hit Indian capital left players vomiting, and some of them took to field wearing face masks

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A cricket Test match between India and Sri Lanka was repeatedly interrupted on Sunday with claims players were “continuously vomiting” due to hazardous pollution levels in the Indian capital.

Commentators said it was the first recorded instance of an international match being halted due to the toxic smog that afflicts much of north India year-round but worsens to hazardous levels during winter months.

Airborne pollution levels 15 times the World Health Organisation limits confronted players on the second day of the third Test at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in Delhi on Sunday.

As the haze worsened, many Sri Lankan players returned from lunch wearing face masks before complaining to umpires, who halted play for 20 minutes to consult with team doctors and match officials.

The match resumed but was interrupted twice more as bowlers Lahiru Gamage and Suranga Lakmal left the field mid-over with breathing difficulties.

“We had players coming off the field and vomiting,” Sri Lanka coach Nic Pothas told reporters after the match.

“There were oxygen cylinders in the change room. It’s not normal for players to suffer in that way while playing the game.”

Pothas said Lakmal was “continuously vomiting” in the changing room. “I think it’s the first time that everybody has come across that situation,” he said.

“There aren’t too many rules regarding pollution. What we are going to do tomorrow is in the hands of the match referee. They will have meetings tonight to put in some sort of a precedent if it happens like this tomorrow.”

The Indian bowler Kuldeep Yadav was also seen sporting a face mask as he brought drinks to teammates on the field.

Umpires were awaiting Lakmal’s return to the field when Indian skipper, Virat Kohli, elected to declare with his side cruising on 536 runs with three wickets in hand.

The interruptions drew boos from the crowd for Sri Lanka’s opening batsmen as they made their way to the crease, where they played without masks.

The acting president of India’s cricket board was also unimpressed and said he would write to his Sri Lankan counterpart about the incident.

“If 20,000 people in the stands did not have problem and the Indian team did not face any issue, I wonder why the Sri Lankan team made a big fuss?” CK Khanna said.

It is the latest professional-grade match in Delhi to be affected by air pollution after two matches in the domestic Ranji Trophy tournament were abandoned in the city when it was engulfed in smog in November 2016.

Some Indian fans accused the Sri Lankan side of being melodramatic but the cricket writer Ayaz Memon said the episode sent an “unedifying message” about pollution in the city.

Schools were shut and doctors declared a public health emergency in Delhi last month as pollution levels spiked to levels 40 times the WHO safe limits, likened to smoking at least 50 cigarettes in a day.

United Airlines briefly halted flights into the capital and foreign diplomats voiced fears the city could become a “non-family” posting due to the polluted environment.

Doctors warn against physical activity in the smog but around 30,000 runners still participated in an annual half-marathon in the city in November.

Delhi officials have been accused of not preparing for what has become an annual crisis each winter, while the Indian government has played down the urgency and health risks associated with the problem.

The extremely poor air in the city is the result of a combination of road dust, open fires, vehicle exhaust fumes, industrial emissions and the burning of crop residues in neighbouring states. Indian weather agencies also blame dust storms that originate in the Gulf.

via Pollution stops play at Delhi Test match as bowlers struggle to breathe | World news | The Guardian

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London’s ultra-low emission zone could affect twice as many vehicles

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New signs will indicate where the ULEZ starts when it is enforced in 2019

The Mayor of London has launched a public consultation on his plans to double the number of drivers charged with a new levy by expanding the ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ).

Sadiq Khan wants to push the zone’s boundaries out to the North and South Circular roads from October 2021.

The expansion means 100,000 fewer people would live in areas with illegal pollution limits, City Hall said.

Critics say the levy could be the “final straw” for small businesses.

The initial ULEZ will be brought in on 8 April 2019, affecting around 60,000 vehicles a day.

If the zone is made bigger, up to 100,000 cars, 35,000 vans and 3,000 HGVs could be affected.

The most polluting cars, vans and motorbikes will have to pay £12.50 in addition to the congestion charge to drive through central London.

Polluting buses, coaches and HGVs will pay £100.

The charges will apply to petrol cars that do not meet Euro IV standards and diesel vehicles that do not meet Euro VI standards.

The mayor will consider Londoners’ suggested modifications before deciding whether to confirm his proposals.

Mr Khan said: “I am determined to take the bold action needed to protect the public from London’s poisonous, deadly air.”

Why make the ULEZ bigger?

City Hall claims by 2021, the benefits of expanding the ULEZ include:

  • About 100,000 people will no longer live in areas exceeding legal pollution limits
  • 71% reduction in schools in high pollution areas
  • 28% reduction in nitrogen oxide (NOx) road transport emissions in outer London
  • 31% reduction in NOx road transport emissions in inner London

Bridget Fox, from the Campaign for Better Transport, welcomed the move but added: “We need fewer cars, not just newer cars.

“That means continued investment in a comprehensive network of high-quality public transport, and better cycling and walking facilities.”

Meanwhile the Federation of Small Businesses called for Mr Khan to rethink the scheme.

Sue Terpilowski said: “We know that the cost of doing business in London is already at shockingly high levels and for many, these charges will be the final straw.”

via London’s ultra-low emission zone could affect twice as many vehicles – BBC News

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