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684x384_353414Air pollution in Europe  According to the World Health Organisation, this is now the environmental factor causing the greatest concern for our health. The European Environment Agency states that around 90% of the urban population in Europe is exposed to pollutants which are considered to be harmful.

Madrid bans half of cars from roads to fight air pollution  Odd- and even-numbered vehicles will swap use of roads in Spanish capital until smog eases

7d02e51e-41ba-4e51-95a8-d281f1d4c080_cx0_cy17_cw0_w987_r1_s_r1China Battles Worst Air Pollution of the Year  More than 70 Chinese cities released warnings to citizens in the last few days about pollution reaching dangerous levels.

 

1482895473375Forget Beijing, world’s worst air has Mongolians seeing red Levels of particulate matter in the air have risen to almost 80 times the recommended safety level set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) – and five times worse than Beijing during the past week’s bout with the worst smog of the year.

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‘Filthy air’ prompts ‘very high’ pollution alert for London 

A “very high” air pollution alert has been issued by the Mayor of London for the first time.

Warnings are being issued at bus stops, roadside signs and Tube stations under a new alert system set up by Sadiq Khan.

The rise has been attributed to cold, calm and settled weather, meaning winds are not dispersing local pollutants.

The mayor said “the shameful state of London’s toxic air” meant he had to trigger the alert.

“This is the highest level of alert and everyone – from the most vulnerable to the physically fit – may need to take precautions to protect themselves from the filthy air,” he said.

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Current pollution levels for PM10 concentrations are at 101 micrograms – more than double the legal limit.

The air quality index numbers run from one (lowest) to 10 (highest). The current levels have been rated as 10.

Notices will be displayed at bus stops, river pier stops, Tube stations and on signs on London’s busiest roads.


Susan Boix, from Erith, South London

While walking the dogs today I felt so sick from the pollution and now have a sore throat.

It was so bad I felt like I was in an enclosed space with a car engine running.

I had to pull my sweatshirt up to cover my mouth and nose. I’ve never experienced it like that before.

Now and again it’s bad but not like today. You could taste the pollution.


In recent weeks several “high” alerts have been issued, but the current weather conditions coupled with an “unusually high amount of domestic wood burning” has led to the highest pollution alert being issued.

The mayor’s office said episodes of pollution with high concentrations occurred a few times per year in London, but very high pollution instances were rare.

The government’s committee on the medical effects of air pollutants (COMEAP) advises adults and children with lung problems, adults with heart problems and older people, to avoid strenuous physical activity.

People with asthma may find they need to use their inhaler more often.

Source: ‘Filthy air’ prompts ‘very high’ pollution alert for London – BBC News

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Air pollution levels soar in Belfast, Londonderry, Armagh and Newry 

Northern Ireland, London, the South East and Eastern regions are experiencing very high levels of pollutants known as particulate matter, or PMs, which come from sources such as traffic emissions, in particular diesel engines.

High levels of air pollution are currently being monitored in Armagh, Belfast, Londonderry and Newry, according to the Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs.

The department’s monitoring stations indicate that moderate levels are being experienced in some other urban centres across Northern Ireland. Air quality is likely to improve from this evening and into tomorrow as winds strengthen.

The high levels of pollution are believed to be as a result of local pollution sources such as road vehicles and home heating emissions combined with cold, calm weather conditions in which pollutants are not being dispersed.

During periods of high pollution the symptoms of people with lung or heart disease may worsen. Healthy people are unlikely to experience any ill effects.

>>Air pollution levels in your town today<<

Hourly updates on levels of particulate matter, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone and carbon monoxide are available on the Department’s website: http://www.airqualityni.co.uk.

With the high pressure and still conditions continuing, air pollution is also expected to be a problem across much of the UK on Tuesday.

In very high pollution conditions, people are advised to limit exercise outside, while those with lung and heart problems and older people should avoid strenuous activity.

Where there is high air pollution, adults and children with lung problems and adults with heart problems, as well as older people, should reduce the amount of strenuous exercise they do.

High and very high levels of pollution can cause people with asthma to need to use their inhaler more.

In London, one of the areas worst hit by the conditions, Mayor Sadiq Khan has issued pollution alerts at Tube stations, bus stops and roadsides.

The Green Party’s Baroness Jones accused the Government of not doing enough to warn people elsewhere in the country of the issue.

And she said: ” When air pollution episodes are capable of triggering an extra 300 deaths as well as hundreds of emergency admissions to hospitals around the country, I think that we have to consider emergency measures to discourage driving, encourage a switch away from diesel and promote less polluting alternatives.”

Air pollution from sources including factories and vehicles is linked to the early deaths of around 40,000 people a year in the UK, and causes problems such as heart and lung diseases and asthma.

Source: Air pollution levels soar in Belfast, Londonderry, Armagh and Newry – BelfastTelegraph.co.uk

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60mph speed limit for M1 under consideration to combat air pollution

Highways England plans to introduce Britain’s first pollution-linked speed limits to help reduce smog over Sheffield

A proposal to impose Britain’s first pollution-linked speed limits in order to help ease smog over Sheffield is being considered by Highways England.

A 60mph speed limit at rush-hour when vehicle numbers are highest where the M1 runs close to schools and homes in the city could help address air quality concerns, a report commissioned by the agency found.

The mandatory speed limit, if approved, would be in place between 7am and 7pm seven days a week between junctions 32 and 35a.

The suggested initiative follows a Nice study, published in December, which found that “driving smoothly” could ease air pollution. Accelerating or decelerating too rapidly leads to greater fuel consumption and means harmful emissions are being released into the environment unnecessarily, the study found.

A 60mph speed limit could also help create a smoother journey as drivers would not be be accelerating and then decelerating at pinch points so often, a spokesperson for the AA said.

The plan coincides with Department for Transport (DfT) plans for a £106m “smart motorway”, which is due to launch in March.

The scheme is likely to add thousands of cars, vans and other vehicles to the roads, causing an increase in air pollution. Sheffield already misses EU air quality targets and was highlighted by the World Health Organisation for having dangerously high levels of air pollution.

To mitigate the increased pollution caused by the smart motorway scheme, Highways England, which admits it is a “key challenge”, has been trialling a number of initiatives.

Currently, an average of approximately 120,000 vehicles per weekday use the motorway in Sheffield, according to Mouchel, an engineering consultancy that put together the report.

It estimates that the smart motorway scheme will add a further 5,000-10,000 vehicles a day by opening the hard shoulder to traffic. It stated: “Air quality assessment predicted that operating a [smart motorway] at 70mph, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, would result in significant adverse impacts on air quality.”

The consultancy firm found that the best way to prevent an increase in illegal pollution would be to implement a speed limit.

The AA spokesman said the proposal, if implemented, could provoke anger among road users, who will face fines if they exceed 60mph.

He said: “Car users are always the easy hit when it comes to pollution when actually they are not one of the main contributors. There will be people raising their eyebrows about whether this is just an example of the authorities trying to look like they are doing something.

“There will be a section of car users, who will see that this is not safety-related, and that they are being penalised for emissions that are likely to have come from other sources as well. That same section will say they pay billions of pounds in taxes … and if we’re contributing that amount of money why isn’t it being spent on the road network to deal with the issues?”

He added: “There is a very good chance that the traffic is already moving at that speed during rush-hour.”

Highways England stressed that the speed limit is just one of “a range of other mitigation options” being trialled, and that despite the scheme being due to launch at the end of March, “there is no suggestion of a delay to the scheme on the M1 and there will be mitigation in place for when the scheme opens”.

Other options include painting barriers with “catalytic paints” designed to remove pollutants from the air and putting piles of “mineral polymer” – made from a secret compound that absorbs nitrogen dioxide – alongside the road.

Clive Betts, MP for Sheffield South East, told the Sunday Times: “Sheffield has already had to close two schools by the M1 because the pollution was so bad, but there are still many residents breathing filthy air — and there will be far more if the motorway gets busier.

“The government has known about this problem but has still expanded the motorway. Now it is trialling these Mickey Mouse schemes which are bound to fail.”

A Highways England spokesperson said: “Smart motorways are central to the modernisation of England’s motorways, reducing congestion and improving journey time reliability by smoothing traffic flows. One of our key challenges in delivering the £15bn government investment in infrastructure is tackling the issue presented by air quality and in order to meet environmental targets we are investing in wider programme of air quality research to help address this.”

A DfT spokesperson said: “We are firmly committed to improving the UK’s air quality and cutting harmful emissions. That is why we have invested more than £2bn since 2011 to promote greener vehicles and support green transport schemes and have set out how we will improve air quality through a new programme of clean air zones.”

The proposal comes as Sheffield’s Green party launch a campaign to tackle the city’s poor air quality. A statement said: “Air pollution continues to exceed legal limits in many areas, contributing to an estimated 500 premature deaths in Sheffield every year.

“We call on Sheffield city council to take action to tackle this public health crisis by urgently agreeing and implementing a new action plan to clean up the city’s air and protect our health.”

Source: 60mph speed limit for M1 under consideration to combat air pollution | World news | The Guardian

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Air pollution causes 95% premature deaths in Mumbai and Delhi: Study 

Deaths due to air pollution in Mumbai and Delhi have doubled over the last 25 years, and together with chronic bronchitis, it accounts for 95% of premature deaths in two of India’s biggest cities, found a study by the Indian Institute of Technology – Bombay (IITB).

The study estimated that if exposure to fine suspended particulate matter of size less than 10 microns (PM10) prematurely killed 19, 291 people in Mumbai in 1991, the number jumped to 32,014 in 2015. In Delhi, premature mortality increased to 48,651 in 2015 from 19,716 in 1995.

In Mumbai, the annual average PM10 decreased from 142 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3) in 1995 to 137 μg/m3 in 2015. In Delhi, however, it increased from 204ug/m3 in 1995 to 263 μg/m3 in 2015. The permissible level for PM10 is 20 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3), as per the World Health Organisation.

Exposure to high levels of PM10 – harmful solid and liquid particles floating in the air – leads to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, and premature death.

The cost of treating diseases caused by air pollution also doubled for people from Mumbai and Delhi in the same period — from Rs24,816 crores to Rs49, 0559 crores – that’s 1.01% of India’s gross domestic product.

“Globally, Mumbai and Delhi are among the 20 most polluted cities, a combined result of vast urbanisation, old automobiles, outdated industrial plants, and lack of government regulation,” said Kamal Jyoti Maji, lead investigator, Centre for Environmental Science Engineering, IIT-B.

The team used epidemiology-based exposure-response function – a mathematical equation – to calculate premature mortality and morbidity rates. Estimates of mortality and morbidity cases are based on the level of exposure to concentration of particulate matter in Delhi and Mumbai.

The increase in the premature mortality rates also coincides with the rise in cost of treatment for 18 diseases that are caused with exposure to elevated PM10 levels. If the annual spend is converted into Indian currency, after taking the US-India currency exchange rate as Rs 46 for a dollar in 2005, Mumbaiittes spent 70% more on medicines, doctors and hospitalisation between 1991 and 2015 — from US$ 2680.87million (Rs12,323 crores) to US$ 4269.60 million (Rs19,640 crores). In Delhi, the cost went up to more than double during the same period – US$ 2714.10 million (Rs12,484 crores) to US$ 6394.74 million (Rs29, 415 crores).

“Determining a quantitative value of air pollution-related health impacts is becoming a vital element in evaluating the economic cost. This will help pollution control authorities in Mumbai and Delhi to take decisions on cost–benefit analysis to pollution control measures,” said Maji.

Source: Air pollution causes 95% premature deaths in Mumbai and Delhi: Study | mumbai news | Hindustan Times

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Air quality in Salt Lake County reaches red level

The air quality in Salt Lake County has reached red levels, according to the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

UDEQ bumped the air quality level into the “red” zone Wednesday afternoon, meaning the following people should limit outdoor activities or heavy exercise:

  • People with lung disease, such as asthma
  • Children and older adults
  • People who are active outdoors
  • Everyone else should limit prolonged outdoor exertion.

Unhealthy, or “red,” is the third highest level of air pollution on the UDEQ’s scale. The department updates air quality levels hourly.

Source: http://kutv.com/news/local/air-quality-in-salt-lake-county-reaches-unhealthy-level

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Pollution warning as London air quality alerts are issued 

Air quality alerts have been issued by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, with moderate pollution expected until the weekend across 17 London boroughs.

The problem is expected to peak on Thursday in Westminster, City of London, Hammersmith, Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston and Wandsworth.

Pollution warnings will be displayed at bus stops, Tube stations and roadsides.

Mr Khan first announced the introduction of the alerts in August 2016.

Mr Khan has described London’s dirty air as a “public health emergency” and has said his office will continue to closely monitor pollution levels over the coming days.

The elderly and those with heart or lung problems should reduce strenuous activity, particularly outdoors, according to the official advice.

London breached its legal limits for toxic air for the entire year in the first five days of 2017.

The environmental law group Client Earth, which has successfully sued the UK government twice over poor air quality, said it was a “shameful reminder of the severity of London’s air pollution” and “shows why the mayor has rightly made tackling it a top priority”.

Source: Pollution warning as London air quality alerts are issued – BBC News

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What does inversion mean for you health? 

It happens in Utah every year in the winter – inversion.

Even though it only affects Utah a few months every year, what does this mean for your health?

The Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment said it’s estimated that Utah’s winter inversion is actually stealing 2 years of your life away, and enough is enough.

“Even brief episodes of pollution can have significant consequences and they can be irreversible consequences and lifelong,” explained Dr. Brian Moench, president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.

In Utah, the mountains create a bowl effect, trapping in cold air and pollution in the valleys – PM2.5, which is made up of soot, dust and vehicle emissions.

Last year alone, dozens of new studies show the air pollution isn’t just affecting your lungs. Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment released a report highlighting dozens of new studies from 2016 that show alarming consequences from air pollution.

One of the major concerns — the impact of inversion during pregnancy.

“The end result can be pregnancy complications, but it can also be fetal development problems that set up a person for a lifelong increased vulnerability to chronic diseases,” Dr. Moench explained.

Even more alarming, recent research suggests that the inversion pollution can actually impact a developing baby before the mother is even pregnant. Dr. Moench explains that studies show air pollution can impact as far as back 3 months prior to conception.

Other studies have also focused on the impact air pollution has on your brain too. One such study researched the autopsies of patients ranging from 3 to 92-years-old, and found alarming results.

“The brains of all these patients have these tiny magnitude particles that are found in air pollution,” Dr. Moench said. “We know that those particles are associated with neurodegenerative diseases and…early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s.”

Dr. Moench says on bad air days, you can stay indoors, but that the pollution still creeps inside.

An air filter can help make the difference, but long term he says, Utah needs to change its ways.

“If we could… get rid of all wood burning in homes and in restaurants, that would probably make the biggest different in overall air pollution,” Dr. Moench said.

These Utah doctors hope lawmakers in the upcoming 2017 Legislative Session, will enact new laws to ultimately save lives.

“The air pollution that we all experience along the Wasatch Front, shortens the average person’s life span by 2 years. What’s 2 years of your life worth to you?” Dr. Moench said.

Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment are organizing a Clean Air Rally on January 21 at 1 p.m. at the Utah State Capitol.

Source: What does inversion mean for you health? | KUTV

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Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City’s pollution readings alarming: expert

Alarming pollution readings have been recorded in both of Vietnam’s largest cities Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City during 2016, raising health concerns amongst locals.

Hanoi’s 2016 Air Quality Index (AQI) value, calculated based on the PM2.5 annual mean concentration, was twice as high as the safe limit set out by the World Health Organization (WHO), experts said at a seminar on pollution and public health in Hanoi on Tuesday.

PM, or Particulate Matter, is the term for a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. PM2.5 particulates are fine particles with diameters 2.5 micrometers or less.

PM2.5 readings are converted into an AQI value, which reveals the level of pollution the monitored air has on a scale from 0 to 500, with 500 being the most polluted.

PM2.5 particulates are as thin as 1/30 the width of a human hair, and therefore can easily pass through lung tissues and be absorbed into the bloodstream, causing adverse health effects, according to Nguy Thuy Khanh, CEO of Green ID, a Hanoi-based sustainability advocate organization which co-organized Tuesday’s seminar.

According to a Green ID survey conducted in 2016, the PM2.5 annual mean concentration in Hanoi was 50.5 micrograms per cubic meter of air.

Hanoi suffered 123 days of excessive PM2.5 levels in 2016 according to Vietnamese standards, and 282 days according to WHO’s air quality guidelines.

These readings were higher than those recorded in China’s Guangzhou City the same year, the group noted.

The PM2.5 annual mean concentration in Ho Chi Minh City was lower, at 28.3 micrograms per cubic meter, while its citizens went through 14 and 175 days of unsafe PM2.5 levels according to national and WHO standards, respectively.

Heavy industrial zones located to the east of Hanoi and thermal power plants outside the city contributed greatly to air pollution in the capital, based on satellite data collected by Green ID.

Traffic vehicles, construction sites, garbage incineration as well as household cooking were also named as causes of Hanoi’s worsening air pollution.

A late 2016 survey of over 1,400 Hanoi residents, more than 86 percent of which are under 40, found that over 70 percent of respondents claimed to have noticed respiratory problems in themselves and their family members.

Source: Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City’s pollution readings alarming: expert

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