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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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Wildfires are making extreme air pollution even worse in the northwest U.S.

Smoke from blazes ravaging western states is counteracting clean air improvements

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The northwestern United States has become an air pollution hot spot — literally.

Air quality in states from Nevada to Montana is worse than it was 30 years ago on the days with the most extreme air pollution. Bigger and more frequent wildfires that spew plumes of fine particulate matter into the sky are largely to blame, researchers report July 16 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

By contrast, the rest of the country has seen decreasing trends in similar smog and haze over the last three decades. Legislation such as the Clean Air Act, which mandates air quality standards and the regulation of vehicle and factory emissions of particulate matter, is making a difference, says study coauthor Daniel Jaffe, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Washington in Bothell.

But the increase in lung-clogging particulate matter from wildfires shows how the effects of climate change — which is, in part, driving the worsening fires — can counteract those gains, Jaffe says.

Wildfire smoke is filled with fine particulates, minuscule solids or droplets that can be inhaled into the lungs, exacerbating breathing problems. Children, the elderly and people with asthma are most at risk, but communities near wildfires can temporarily experience levels of pollutants so high that it’s unsafe for anyone to be outside for very long. “When we start to think about people’s health, episodic events matter a lot,” says Gannet Hallar, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, who wasn’t part of the study.

Regular exposure to elevated levels of these fine airborne pollutants (less than 2.5 micrometers wide, or about 3 percent of the width of a human hair) has also been linked to an increased risk of chronic health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes (SN: 9/30/17, p. 18).

Tracking the broader influence of wildfires on air pollution can be tricky because the fires are intermittent and patchy, says Jaffe, who carried out the study with Crystal McClure, also an atmospheric scientist at the University of Washington in Bothell. “Most of the year, wildfires aren’t impacting air quality, but on some of the worst days they are.” And the blazes can hit one community hard, but leave neighboring towns relatively unaffected.

Jaffe and McClure looked at daily measurements of fine particulate matter at more than 100 rural monitoring sites around the country, from 1988 to 2016. In most parts of the country, the data showed a success story of cleaner air over time — but not in the northwest, an area that gets hit hard by wildfires every summer.

Where air pollution has gotten better or worse

This map shows the change from 1988 to 2016 in levels of fine particulate matter (smaller than 2.5 micrometers wide) on the days with the worst air. Over most of the country, this type of air pollution has decreased. But in the northwest, wildfires are making the bad air quality days worse than they used to be.

Map of air pollution changes from 1988 to 2016

C. MCCLURE AND D. JAFFE/PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES 2018

The team made similar calculations for levels of a few specific pollutants — particulate carbon, a hallmark of fire emissions, and sulfate, a by-product of burning fossil fuels. Particulate carbon levels had increased over time in the northwest, but sulfate levels didn’t, supporting the conclusion that wildfires are mainly driving the air pollution trend in the western United States, rather than industrial activity.

Wildfires weren’t making air pollution on an average day worse in the northwest, the team found. Most of the time, air quality is fine — wildfires might only affect a given community for a few days or weeks out of a year. But the air quality on the bad days, when air pollutants are especially high, is getting worse over time, the analysis shows. Those particularly bad days tended to be in the summer, when wildfires are at their peak. In the northwest, levels of fine particulates on the handful of days with the worst air quality each year have increased at an average rate of 0.21 micrograms per cubic meter per year, though there’s substantial local variability in that number.

As the overall air quality picture in the country has improved, we now have harder work to do, says Jenny Hand, an atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins who wasn’t part of the study. Those challenges include figuring out how to prevent and mitigate these more uncontrollable sources of air pollution that can’t be regulated like emissions from human sources can, she says.

 

via Wildfires are making extreme air pollution even worse in the northwest U.S. | Science News

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Australian cities see higher death toll from worsening air pollution

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Air pollution in Australia’s major cities will worsen, in turn causing more premature deaths, according to a latest Australian-linked research on Monday (July 16).

More than 3,000 premature deaths in the country every year are related to urban air pollution and the figure could rise due to changing weather conditions, local media cited Australian researcher Jason Evans, a co-author of the findings published in the Climate Dynamics journal, as saying on Monday.

Evans and his team analysed two decades of weather data covering nine weather sites across southeastern Australia, including major cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

With more than 80 per cent of Australia’s population living in the south-eastern areas and large population growth expected, “the impact of more intense air pollution events in the future could be substantial,” they said.

Their study looked at the impact of global warming on temperature inversions, especially near surface temperature inversions, which can amplify air pollution by preventing convective movements and trapping pollutants close to the ground, thus increasing health issues.

Air temperature normally decreases with altitude but the inversion can trap cool air near the surface under warm air, building up harmful pollutants.

The researchers reported that there is a substantial increase in the strength of near surface temperature inversions over south-east Australia, which suggests that future inversions may intensify poor air quality events.

via Australian cities see higher death toll from worsening air pollution, Australia/NZ News & Top Stories – The Straits Times

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Expansion of Odd-Even Policy Reduces Air Pollution in Jakarta

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Head of Jakarta Environment Department Isnawa Adji claimed the air quality in Jakarta has improved after the expansion of odd-even policy since July 2.

“In general, all parameters of air quality in Jakarta are still below the quality standard. But with this odd-even policy, the pollutants sourced from motor vehicles are decreasing,” Isnawa said in a written statement on Wednesday, July 11.

The decreasing pollutant levels in Jakarta during the expansion of odd-even policy are the gas concentration of CO, NO, and HC.

Isnawa’s claim is based on the results of air quality monitoring at several air stations at a number of points. As in DKI 1 Station Hotel Indonesia roundabout, the CO concentration was at 1.7 percent, the NO decreased by 14.7 percent, and the HC decreased by 1.37 percent.

In addition, at DKI 2 Station Kelapa Gading, there has been a decrease of CO concentration of 1.15 percent, NO concentration decreased 7.03 percent, and NO2 decreased by 2.01 percent. Meanwhile, at DKI 4 Station Lubang Buaya, CO concentration decreased by 1.12 percent and the NO decreased by 7.46 percent.

However, the air quality parameters of PM-10 or the dust air particles smaller than 10 microns are still quite high. This, Isnawa said, was caused by the development activities of MRT, LRT, and the arrangement of sidewalks on Jalan Sudirman-Thamrin.

“These projects are certain to be completed or suspended during the Asian Games, so it certainly will not be a problem,” Isnawa said.

As of July 2 to July 31, the odd-even policy trials began to be widened to several areas in Jakarta, such as on Jalan Rasuna Said, M.T. Haryono, D.I. Panjaitan, A. Yani, Benyamin Sueb, Gatot Subroto, and Metro Pondok Indah.

The time of the odd-even policy trial starts at 06:00 am to 09:00 pm or 15 hours. For the odd-numbered vehicles can cross on the road on the odd dates only, as well as for the even-numbered vehicles.

via Expansion of Odd-Even Policy Reduces Air Pollution in Jakarta | Metro | Tempo.Co :: Indonesian News Portal

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Stuttgart to bring in city-wide diesel ban at start of next year

2f4c876ddf6b67fc3241d92e0bf878adbd1f4d2ae08d955c1b1b106718d945f3Close to 200,000 owners of older diesel cars will be impacted by a ban on diesel engines in the city centre of Stuttgart that was announced on Wednesday.
The state government of Baden-Württemberg decided that the diesel ban would apply to vehicles of the Euro emission standard 4 and worse and would apply to the entire centre of state capital Stuttgart.

A ban on the use of newer diesel engines complying with Euro standard 5 is not to be brought in for the time being. Any final decision on more modern diesel engines will be made dependent on the effect of a wide-ranging package to improve air quality in the smoggy state capital.

According to official figures, a total of 534,573 diesel cars are registered in the Stuttgart, and the surrounding region, of which 188,163 are registered with European standards 1 to 4.

Stuttgart is not the first German city to ban diesel – Hamburg introduced a limited ban on diesel engines early this year on two of the city’s most polluted streets. But the Stuttgart ban is much wider in scope and will encompass the entire city centre.

The Baden-Württemberg government negotiated not only the driving ban, but also exceptions. For example, residents with older diesel cars will be subject to a transition period until April 1st, 2019. Meanwhile craftsmen will be given additional time to buy new vehicles. Taxis, coaches and emergency vehicles will be completely excluded from the ban.

At the same time, the state government intends to adopt a package of measures to tackle air pollution and support public transport and electromobility. Ticket prices on public transport networks are to be reduced and sustainable vehicles such as electric buses and freight bicycles are to be promoted.

The government also presented several technical solutions that should contribute to lower nitrogen oxide emissions in the city. These include an innovative road surface that binds the gases from the air, as well as a noise barrier that is to break down both nitrogen oxides and fine dust from the air. Such measures are planned above all at the Neckartor area, where the worst air pollution values are regularly measured.

The Federal Administrative Court ruled in February that driving bans for air pollution control are permissible if proportionality is applied. Since then, the Baden-Württemberg has been under pressure to reduce nitrogen oxide levels in its famously polluted state capital. The poisonous gases have been linked to respiratory illnesses and heart problems, and are held responsible for thousands of premature deaths each year.

Around 10 million of the 15 million diesel cars registered in Germany fall short of the latest Euro 6 EU emissions regulation, potentially making them eligible for a ban.

Drivers of all but the latest diesel models that adhere to the Euro 6 standards “can no longer be certain of being allowed to drive at any time, 365 days a week,” analysts at consulting firm EY said in response to the ruling back in February.

via Stuttgart to bring in city-wide diesel ban at start of next year – The Local

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Groundbreaking Dundee University research finds air pollution linked to rise in hospital admissions

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High levels of air pollution have been linked to spikes in hospital admissions due to breathing problems.

Researchers at Dundee University studied nearly 15 years of data for air pollution levels in Dundee, Perth and the surrounding area and matched it to the medical records of 450 patients who suffer from bronchiectasis — a long-term chronic condition similar to COPD which can cause a persistent cough and breathlessness, as well as frequent chest infections.

Professor James Chalmers, GSK/British Lung foundation professor of respiratory research at the university’s school of medicine, said the study suggested air pollution was having a major impact on the health of people with respiratory problems — and potentially the wider population

He said: “When we looked at these two sets of data side-by-side the links between the periods when air pollution is at its worst and when these patients are having to seek assistance is absolutely clear.

“We found that on days when air pollution spiked there was a large increase in admissions to Ninewells Hospital and Perth Royal Infirmary with breathing problems and visits to GP’s with breathing problems, known as exacerbations.”

He said impacts were worst in the summer, when hot, still days raise the levels of air pollution and people spend most time outside.

He added: “Our data suggests that a failure to tackle air pollution is having a major impact on the health of people with lung conditions and potentially the wider Tayside population.

“The patients we looked at, who all suffer from lung conditions, are to my mind the canary in the coalmine on this issue – they are the first and most seriously affected by air pollution but it can affect us all.”

Ian Jarrold, head of research at the British Lung Foundation, said: “It is well-known that people with lung conditions are the first to become breathless when exposed to air pollution.

“But, thanks to this study, we now know that there is a clear link between high levels of air pollution and increased numbers of patients with breathing problems at hospitals and GP surgeries. The additional costs faced by the NHS in treating patients with lung conditions due to high exposure to air pollution can no longer be ignored.”

The study was a collaboration between the research team at Dundee and environmental health experts from Belgium, funded by the British Lung Foundation and published in the European Respiratory Journal.

Some areas of the city, such as Lochee Road and the Seagate, have some of the worst pollution levels in the country.

West End Liberal Democrat councillor Fraser Macpherson said the study showed the need for action to be taken to improve air quality.

He said: “There has been some progress but it is just not happening at the speed one would like.

“The bottom line is we cannot have a situation where there is any possibility of people’s health being compromised by air pollution.”

via Groundbreaking Dundee University research finds air pollution linked to rise in hospital admissions – The Courier

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Asian residents are exposed to nine times more air pollution than Americans or Europeans

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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. The number of road vehicles in Beijing increased from 1.5 million in 2000 to more than 5 million in 2014 and the number in Delhi, India, is expected to increase from 4.7 million in 2010 to 25.6 million by 2030.

In a review published by the journal Atmospheric Environment, Surrey’s Global Centre for Clean Research (GCARE) looked at studies of pollution exposure and concentration levels in Asian transport microenvironments (walking, driving, cycling, motorbike riding and bus riding). Researchers focused on the levels of fine particles, black carbon produced by carbon-rich fuels such as gasoline and diesel fuel, and ultrafine particles (UFP) small enough to travel deep into a citizen’s lungs.

The review found evidence that pedestrians walking along busy roadsides in Asian cities are exposed to up to 1.6 times higher fine particle levels than people in European and American cities. Car drivers in Asia are exposed to up to nine times more pollution than Europeans and Americans, while black carbon levels were seven times higher for Asian pedestrians than Americans. The study reported that in Hong Kong, UFP levels were up to four times higher than in cities in Europe. In New Delhi, average black carbon concentration in cars was up to five times higher compared to Europe or North America.

Professor Prashant Kumar, lead author of the study and the Director of the Global Centre for Clean Air Research at the University of Surrey, said: “Care should be taken in directly comparing and contrasting the results of different studies due to varied amounts of information available on personal exposure in studied regions. However, there is compelling evidence that people travelling in urban areas in Asian cities are being exposed to a significantly higher level of air pollution.

“A noticeable gap still exists in studies that focus on the Asian population living in rural, semi-rural or smaller cities, where pollution exposure could be as harmful as in urban areas owing to several unattended sources. There were rare data on cyclist and motorcyclist exposure despite substantial use in Asian cities; studies were limited for other transport modes too. It is important that this knowledge gap is filled if we are to get a complete picture of the pollution exposure challenge that the Asian population faces.”

Professor Chris Frey of North Carolina State University, co-author of the study, said: “There are increasing efforts in Asia to install properly designed and calibrated portable monitoring systems to measure actual exposures, using the data to better understand why high exposures occur and how to prevent them. These measurements of personal exposures will help individuals, businesses, and governments to develop and implement strategies to reduce such exposures.”

via Asian residents are exposed to nine times more air pollution than Americans or Europeans

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Car cabin pollution scare prompts calls for new air conditioning rules

Screen Shot 2018-07-09 at 09.18.03Experts have called for the regulation of car air conditioning systems after new trials revealed that popular models are letting in dangerous amounts of pollution.

Safety tests on 11 types of car have shown huge variation the the ability to purify incoming air, exposing those inside to millions of poisonous particles with each breath.

The Toyota C-HR performed worst, blocking out just 1 per cent of pollutants, while the VW Polo managed only 35 per cent and the Ford Fiesta 40 per cent.

However, the Mercedes E-Class was able to purify 90 per cent of the incoming air, demonstrating that the technology exists to substantially protect passengers.

Emission Analytics, the laboratory which carried out the tests, said the disparity was due to an absence of Government standards regulating air filtration systems.

Nick Molden, its chief executive, told The Sunday Times: “Drivers can be exposed to high pollution levels while believing themselves to be protected by the air filtration and ventilation system.”

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) confirmed that the lack of regulation means car firms can use whatever specification of air filter they want, but said the industry is “working with policy makers” to decide if new rules are required.

The hazardous pollution comes mainly from the exhausts of other vehicles, which is full of “particulates” which measure a few millions of a millimetre.

They are dangerous because their size enables them to enter the bloodstream via the lungs.

Pollution is particularly hazardous for asthmatics, and also contributes to heart disease, stroke and some cancers.

Emissions Analytics discovered up to 57,000 particles per cubic centimeter in some roadside air samples.

Because people typically inhale around 55cc of air, that means pedestrians are inhaling 28 million particles per breath.

Even in cars whose filters remove 40 per cent of particles, such as the Ford Fiesta, those inside would still inhale nearly 13 million particles with each breath.

Tests were also carried out on the new £40,500  Jaguar E-Pace, which stopped 43 per cent of pollution, the VW Touran, which stopped 59 per cent, and the Vauxhall Astra, which blocked 83 per cent.

“There is little data to tell consumers what they are buying,” said Mr Molden.

“So if you have kids with asthma or other conditions you cannot tell if the car you are buying will protect them.”

He added the lack of protection may leave the employers of those driving as part of their work open to being sued.

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“Their vehicles are their workplace so they may be subject to health and safety laws,” he said.

“Our research suggests many vehicles are a risk to their drivers’ health”.

While the majority of cars have a “recirculation” switch which blocks external air, this has been shown to risk causing drowsiness because it increases carbon dioxide levels caused by the occupants’ breathing.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Manufacturers have developed technology, like automatic climate control and active carbon filters, in response to consumer demand rather than legislative requirement.

“Given the absence of a regulatory standard, specifications vary”.

VW said its vehicles were fitted with multiple filters to remove particles and it intended to attach a particulate sensor to future models.

Meanwhile Toyota UK said it was not aware of pollution problems found Emission Analytics results “surprising”.

via Car cabin pollution scare prompts calls for new air conditioning rules

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