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Diesel cars pump out 50 per cent more toxic emissions than they should, major report finds  Diesel cars are pumping out 50 per cent more toxic emissions than they should be if all were complying with pollution laws, researchers have found.

140624_webHigh level of prenatal air pollution exposure and stress increase childhood asthma risk  A new study has found that children, especially boys, whose mothers were exposed to higher levels of outdoor particulate air pollution at the same time that they were very stressed were most likely to develop asthma by age six.

170519153547_1_540x360Traffic related air pollution linked to DNA damage in children Children and teens exposed to high levels of traffic-related air pollution have evidence of a specific type of DNA damage called telomere shortening, reports a study

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Vietnam’s major cities choking as air pollution exacerbates: government study 

Urban areas are polluted by transportation, industrial production and daily activities.

Air pollution has been getting worse across Vietnam over the past five years, breaching acceptable levels in the country’s major cities, according to a government report released on Thursday.

From 2012-2016, the total suspended particles (TSP) level, which is used to measure the mass concentration of particulate matter (PM) in the air, exceeded safe levels by 2-3 times in Hanoi, Hai Phong, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City, and 1.5-2 times in other cities.

In its air quality guidelines, the World Health Organization says levels of fine particles known as PM2.5 should not be more than 10 micrograms per cubic meter on average over a year, and slightly larger pollutants, called PM10, should not reach more than 20 micrograms per cubic meter on average.

The government report said that these indicators were exceeded 20 percent of the time in Hanoi and HCMC.

Hoang Duong Tung, a senior environment official, said urban areas in Vietnam are being polluted by transportation, industrial production and daily activities.

“PM2.5 can get into the lungs and cause a number of diseases, including lung cancer,” he was quoted as saying in a VietnamPlus report on Thursday.

Official data from the health ministry shows 3-4 percent of the country’s population contract respiratory diseases every year, mostly in urban areas.

In April, a study by the Hanoi-based Green Innovation and Development Center found that ambient air pollution in Hanoi exceeded the WHO’s standards on 78 days from January to March, which matches the government’s new report.

The study also said air quality in Ho Chi Minh City was better than in Hanoi, but ambient air pollution also exceeded the WHO limit on 78 days.

There are more than five million motorbikes on Hanoi’s roads, and 19,000 new vehicles are registered each month. Around 140 new cars and 750 new motorbikes are also registered every day in Saigon, Vietnam’s most crowded city with a population of 12 million people.

Deaths attributable to dangerous air particles in Vietnam jumped 60 percent from 26,300 in 1990 to 42,200 in 2015, according to the study conducted by the Health Effects Institute, a Boston research facility focused on the health impacts of air pollution, and the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle.

Ambient particulate matter ranks fifth among fatal risk factors around the world, after high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes and high cholesterol.

Source: Vietnam’s major cities choking as air pollution exacerbates: government study – VnExpress International

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Germany wrestles with diesel’s future as large cities plan bans

Germany is wrestling over the future of the diesel, with proposals for driving bans in some cities to reduce air pollution clashing with an industry that employs scores of workers.

With some urban areas failing European Union air-quality standards, Munich, Stuttgart and Hamburg are among big cities in the country considering restricting older diesels.

Carmakers are lobbying instead for fixes to engines, which could affect as many as 13 million diesels. Weighing in with their own views are state and federal authorities — as well as German courts.

Local courts, which are considering various complaints about excessive emissions, are taking action to compel cities to enact driving bans as limits on pollution are breached.

“The cost of treating diesel exhaust is simply too high and carmakers have lost a lot of credibility in the debate about when it’s acceptable to reduce emissions controls,” said Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, an automotive analyst at the University of Duisburg-Essen’s Center for Automotive Research. “Diesel is over and it’s time to switch to new technologies.”

Upending industry

Diesel bans threaten to upend an industry already challenged by the costs of developing electric vehicles, with BMW CEO Harald Krueger saying the shift isn’t possible without fuel-efficient diesel engines as part of an interim step.

In particular, diesel technology plays a major role in Germany, where the models accounted for about 46 percent of sales last year. It also means thousands of jobs. At Robert Bosch, the world’s biggest car-parts supplier, about 50,000 positions are linked to diesel, with many more at Volkswagen Group and other automakers.

With that in mind and a federal election just over two months away, German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt has come out against bans, saying they are an ineffective tool for reducing pollution. Dobrindt has organized a gathering of government and industry executives on Aug. 2 to consider options for updating older diesels.

Signs of reprieve

There are some signs that the embattled technology — under fire since Volkswagen’s emissions cheating became public two years ago — may get a bit of a reprieve.

Stuttgart, which is looking at possible diesel bans beginning already next January, says it would prefer automakers upgrade so-called Euro 5 diesel cars that were still on sale as recently as two years ago. But such changes must come within the next two years to help bring down pollution, according to a state transport ministry spokesman.

“Driving bans can only be a means of last resort because they limit the mobility of people,” Hubertus Heil — general secretary of the Social Democrats, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s junior coalition partner — said on Monday in Berlin. “The solution must be to organize mobility in Germany in another way. So it is good that all parties involved sit down together and develop a concept for the future.”

On Tuesday, the state government of Bavaria — where BMW and Audi are based — said it agreed to a voluntary recall with carmakers in an effort to avoid diesel bans in its cities, of which Munich is the biggest. Baden-Wuerttemberg, which includes Daimler’s home city of Stuttgart, indicated it would be open to a similar solution.

Even as politicians get behind fixes, there’s the risk of court-ordered restrictions. On Wednesday, Stuttgart’s administrative court will hold a public hearing on a complaint seeking to ban all diesel cars from driving into the city.

Stuttgart is built in a valley and has for many years failed air pollution tests. In Munich, a court in March compelled the city to prepare diesel bans to bring down levels of cancer-causing nitrogen oxide of which diesel cars are a major source.

Last year, the Transport Ministry prodded manufacturers including VW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz to recall 630,000 cars that pushed the limits of emissions regulations. As many as 13 million cars could be affected by additional fixes being considered, with the industry arguing the figure is far lower. How that would work and who will pay for it will be discussed at the task force meeting on Aug. 2. BMW and Audi said last month more than 50 percent of their Euro-5 diesel cars could be upgraded.

“We see good prospects to find a federal solution to upgrade Euro-5 diesel cars,” said Michael Rebstock, a BMW spokesman. “BMW will bear the cost of such an upgrade.”

Source: Germany wrestles with diesel’s future as large cities plan bans

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Environment Canada alerts of increased air pollution due to ozone 

Environment Canada has issued a statement alerting residents of possible increased air pollution for July 18.

The statement affects all of York Region and other parts of the GTA. Environment Canada says “hot and sunny conditions are expected to cause increasing ground-level ozone concentrations in the area”.

Ozone is a colourless and odourless gas and a major component of smog. Ground-level ozone results from photochemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds in the presence of sunlight.

Air pollution’s effect on health is measured with the Air Quality Health Index. Short-term, high-risk AQHI values are expected in the afternoon.

As a result of increased air pollution, individuals may experience symptoms of coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath. Children, seniors and those with cardiovascular or lung disease are especially at risk, Environment Canada says.

Visit airhealth.ca for more information on how to reduce your health risk, as well as your current and forecast AQHI values.

Source: Environment Canada alerts of increased air pollution due to ozone | YorkRegion.com

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Environmental pollution exposure during pregnancy increases asthma risk for three generations 

Exposure to environmental pollutants during pregnancy may increase the risk of asthma for as many as three consecutive generations, according to new research.

Exposure to environmental pollutants during pregnancy may increase the risk of asthma for as many as three consecutive generations, according to new research. The study is published ahead of print in the American Journal of Physiology — Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology.

Researchers studied three generations of mice born to mothers that were exposed to either diesel exhaust particles or urban air particle concentrate during pregnancy. The research team compared cells from the lungs of the first, second and third generations of offspring to three generations of control offspring that were not exposed to the pollutants. All generations descended from mothers exposed to diesel exhaust particles had an abnormal increase in a type of immune cell, a common marker for allergy. Offspring of pollutant-exposed ancestors also showed elevated levels of interleukin proteins that are involved in regulating the immune system, which are a marker of asthma risk. However, the increase was more prominent in the first and second generations, suggesting that inherited risk factors lessen in further removed generations.

Environmental pollutant exposure before birth caused epigenetic changes in the offspring’s DNA that affect how genetic code is used (DNA methylation). The researchers found that atypical DNA methylation led to transgenerational asthma risk due to abnormal changes in a type of immune cell called dendritic cells. Dendritic cells play a key role in the development of asthma in early life.

Seeing the changes in DNA methylation and gene expression that affect the health of future generations (epigenetic transgenerational inheritance) may help doctors start to recognize asthma as not only an inflammatory disease but “to a large extent, an epigenetic disease,” explained Alexey Fedulov, corresponding researcher on the study. “This approach may allow entirely new therapeutic strategies.”

Source: Environmental pollution exposure during pregnancy increases asthma risk for three generations — ScienceDaily

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Ozone pollution may cause cardiovascular diseases

Ozone can damage the respiratory system, reduce lung function and cause asthma attacks.

Exposure to ozone, a powerful greenhouse gas and a widespread air pollutant in many major cities, may cause cardiovascular disease such as heart attack, high blood pressure and stroke, according to a new study of Chinese adults. Ozone is a pollutant formed through a chemical reaction that occurs when sunlight interacts with nitrogen oxides and other organic compounds that are generated by coal-burning, vehicle exhaust and some natural sources. It has long been associated with adverse health effects in children and adults, Xinhua reported on Monday. “We know that ozone can damage the respiratory system, reduce lung function and cause asthma attacks,” said study author Junfeng Zhang, from Duke and Duke Kunshan University.“Here, we wanted to learn whether ozone affects other aspects of human health, specifically the cardiovascular system.” Zhang and colleagues studied 89 healthy adults living in Changsha City of China for one year. They monitored indoor and outdoor ozone levels, along with other pollutants.

At four intervals, the study team took participant blood and urine samples and used a breathing test called spirometry to examine a set of factors that could contribute to cardiovascular and respiratory disease. The team examined inflammation and oxidative stress, arterial stiffness, blood pressure, clotting factors and lung function in participants. They noted blood platelet activation, which is a risk factor for clotting, and an increase in blood pressure, suggesting a possible mechanism by which ozone may affect cardiovascular health. These effects were found with ozone exposure lower than that which affects respiratory health, and lower than current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) air quality standards. “This study shows that standards for safe ozone exposure should take into account its effect on cardiovascular disease risk,” said Zhang. These findings, by a team from Duke University, Tsinghua University, Duke Kunshan University and Peking University, were published Monday in the US journal JAMA Internal Medicine. “This study provides mechanistic support to previously observed associations between low-level ozone exposure and cardiovascular disease outcomes,” the study concluded. (Read: Exposure to air pollution may increase your risk of heart disease)

Source: Ozone pollution may cause cardiovascular diseases | TheHealthSite.com

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Polluted air ‘poisoning thousands’ across north of England, warns report 

Air pollution is ‘the tobacco of the 21st century’ says report, which calls on government to introduce radical measures to improve air quality

Dangerous levels of air pollution in towns and cities across the north of England are threatening the health of hundreds of thousands of people and stifling economic growth, according to a new report.

The analysis by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) North describes air pollution as “the tobacco of the 21st century” and says that while there has been a growing concern about the problem in London, many residents in regional towns and cities are unaware of the threat to their health.

Darren Baxter, researcher at IPPR North, said it was time the government took radical action.

“Too often the attention focuses on unclean air in the capital, but the reality is that it’s poisoning thousands in our regional cities too,” said Baxter. “Michael Gove [the new environment secretary] must show that the government is not prepared to sit on its hands while up to 40,000 people are killed every year from dirty air. We need to see radical plans to ditch diesel, introduce incentives for electric cars and bring in clean air zones in our major cities.”

The government has suffered two legal defeats over its plans to improve air quality in the UK after judges ruled they were so poor as to be unlawful. The courts have given ministers until 31 July to publish a new plan.

Campaigners want Gove to introduce a range of measures including charging clean air zones in the worst hit areas and a diesel scrappage scheme to compensate drivers who bought diesel cars after being told they were better for the environment.

The government’s own figures show that although London has by far the highest level of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution, many urban areas – including large swaths of the Midlands, the north-west, West Yorkshire and the northeast – suffer dangerous levels of pollution.

The scale of the air pollution crisis was revealed in a joint Guardian-Greenpeace investigation earlier this year, showing hundreds of thousands of children were being educated within 150 metres of a road where levels of NO2 from diesel traffic breached legal limits.

Figures obtained by Labour showed that more than 38 million people, representing 59.3% of the UK population, were living in areas where levels of NO2pollution were above legal limits.

Baxter said: “This is the tobacco of the 21st century, and every single preventable death is a failure of government action. Gove must get a grip on this crisis which is killing literally thousands of children and adults a year.”

Tuesday’s report estimates that congestion in the north of England will increase by 3% annually. Estimates put the cost of congestion in Manchester and Liverpool alone at £2bn in 2015.

The study is the latest from IPPR North’s Northern Energy Taskforce, which has identified the energy sector as one of four key priority areas for the economy in northern England, along with manufacturing, health and digital.

“By taking the killer air crisis seriously, we can prevent many unnecessary deaths and ill-health, especially in our children, while preparing the way for a Northern green jobs revolution,” said Baxter.

The report calls for central government, councils and transport bodies to:

 Radically improve green public transport links, especially rail connections, and to prioritise hydrogen-powered trains.

 Pledge to phase out diesel cars over the coming years, in part to help spur the electric car market, in which sector the north is becoming a world leader.

 Introduce a new car scrappage scheme to encourage car owners to upgrade to electric vehicles.

Source: Polluted air ‘poisoning thousands’ across north of England, warns report | Environment | The Guardian

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Air pollution kills 2,120 people in Albania in 2016: report 

Some 2,120 people died in Albania in 2016 as a result of deterioration of air pollution, a report on the Quality of Air in Europe for 2016 showed Monday.

According to this report, the air pollution here has deteriorated, causing a significant number of deaths in Albania.

“In 2013, the number of deaths caused by air pollution in Albania was 776, while only three years later, this figure has almost doubled,” the report cited.

The report says that in general, air pollution in Western Balkan countries is a big problem, also due to energy policies.

Meanwhile, the latest statistics from the World Economic Forum listed Albania in the first five countries that are most vulnerable to pollution.

According to these statistics, the mortality rate of Albania in terms of air pollution per 100,000 inhabitants is 171.4, that is, approximately 5,000 Albanian citizens per year risk to face death from this cause.

Source: Air pollution kills 2,120 people in Albania in 2016: report – Xinhua | English.news.cn

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Traffic jams worsen air quality–study 

Here’s more bad news about the pesky heavy traffic in Metro Manila. A recent study by technical experts commissioned by the civic group Kaibigan ng Kaunlaran at Kalikasan (KKK) said traffic jams continue to worsen air pollution in Metro Manila, exposing people to risks of acquiring cardiovascular diseases and various health problems associated with breathing dirty air every day.

But what is causing the traffic? Ed Alabastro, executive director of KKK said: Overpopulation and the sheer lack of discipline of Filipinos.

These two, he said, are the reason for Metro Manila’s major traffic woes.

“Traffic is the reason for poor air quality but it’s the population that is causing traffic in Metro Manila. We are over populated,” he told the BusinessMirror in telephone interview.

Besides Metro Manila’s huge population, “Filipinos lack discipline. That’s another problem,” he added.

He said like Metro Manila, highly populated urban centers, like Metro Cebu and Metro Davao, are sure to experience living with poor air quality sooner or later.

“Metro Cebu’s traffic will lead to poorer air quality,” he said.

The study commissioned by KKK, he added, confirms the problem caused by traffic congestion—which is poorer air quality.

“The more engines are running longer, the more pollution we get,” he said in Filipino.

Based on the study, the congestion in Metro Manila is costing the country billions in lost revenues.

It is also contributing largely to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, according to the study.

“Inhalation and ingestion of pollutants from mobile sources can cause diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease and stroke,” the study said.

Conducted for a period of two years, the study was completed recently with support from nonprofit group Clean Air Asia, scientific research institute Manila Observatory and independent professionals.

Other “area” sources, including burning refuse, street-side cooking and construction work, account for 20 percent of air pollution, while only 4 percent is attributed to “industrial” sources.

The project, “Modeling Particulate Matter Dispersion in Metro Manila”, used an internationally recognized mathematical technique to predict the pathways of pollution from various sources.

Factors that impact air quality were used as inputs to the mathematical modeling: air quality-monitoring data, topography, actual traffic count, type of vehicles and fuels, and meteorology, such as wind speeds and directions that vary in different months.

Due to variability of these factors, not all of Metro Manila experiences dirty air the same way, the study noted.

KKK, or “Friends of Progress and the Environment”, a nongovernmental organization that advances sustainable development by providing science-based research to policy-makers, said that traffic congestion is now a critical health issue.

The study specifically focused on particulate matter that can easily enter people’s lungs and cause coughing, sneezing and asthma in children. Such small particulates are also internationally recognized as causes of ischemic heart disease, cardiopulmonary diseases, respiratory dysfunctions and lung cancer.

According to the World Health Organization, around 3 million deaths per year are linked to outdoor pollution, with the majority occurring in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific.

In the Philippines, the Department of Health has noted that the leading causes of death include cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, among them, lung cancer exacerbated—if not directly caused—by air pollution.

While the group lauded the national government’s drive to solve traffic congestion, it emphasized that a lot can still be done to address traffic and the critical risk it continues to pose to citizens.

To address the problem, the study recommended a “holistic” approach to solving air pollution and traffic congestion. It proposed greater coordination among agencies handling traffic and environmental issues; establishment of a traffic-management bureau to oversee the traffic situation.

Strengthening of the motor-vehicle inspection system and traffic-management efforts; installation of more closed-circuit television cameras to monitor both social and environmental concerns; and upgrading of traffic light system to deal with increased traffic volume; and lesser dependence on manpower to direct traffic.

The study also recommended that enforcers should undergo a uniform training program, implementation of the no-contact apprehension and stricter compliance to existing emission standards.

Motorists should also consider the quality of fuels they use, along with reliability and cost.

It recommended the enhancement of air-monitoring capability of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, by putting up more monitoring stations in critical areas.

The group also called on government to lead a shift from cars to mass transit over the long term.

“A highly functional mass transport system, combined with land use and population management, would greatly support a drive for cleaner air in Metro Manila,” the study said.

Source: Traffic jams worsen air quality–study | BusinessMirror

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