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ChangwonSeoul issues emergency pollution measures The Seoul Metropolitan Government is set to waive public transportation fees during peak commute hours on Monday to mitigate the worsening air quality brought on by fine dust particles.

Bad air quality along Utah’s Wasatch Front causes more than 200 pneumonia cases each year Air pollution trapped by winter inversions along Utah’s Wasatch Front, the state’s most populated region, is estimated to send more than 200 people to the emergency room with pneumonia each year, according to a study by University of Utah Health and Intermountain Healthcare.

24993_pollution-mongolia_1515118842250Severe air pollution chokes Mongolia amid harsh winters With thousands of families burning coal to survive in arctic temperatures, Mongolia is now home to the most poisonous air on the planet.

 

d9e1d7e8abc2b32e1baa26d4d75d3480Bangkok choked with air pollution Bangkok’s busy business areas are being choked with air pollution, with concentrations of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) much higher than safe standards, Bangkok officials warned on Thursday.

 

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Bangkok choked with air pollution: deputy governor

d9e1d7e8abc2b32e1baa26d4d75d3480Bangkok’s busy business areas are being choked with air pollution, with concentrations of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) much higher than safe standards, Bangkok officials warned on Thursday.

Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) deputy governor Suwanna Jungrungruang raised the warning during an academic seminar on establishing clean air zones in inner Bangkok. Suwanna told the seminar that the BMA had measured the air quality at 23 locations in the capital last year and found that toxic PM2.5 was present in concentrations much higher than safe standards of 50 micrograms per cubic metre. For example, in Bang Khen and Thon Buri, PM2.5 was present in concentrations of 116 mg/m. Suwanna said vehicles were the main cause of the increasing air pollution. She added that construction on roads also contributed to the worsening air quality.
Since air pollution has serious impacts on the health of Bangkok residents, the BMA plans to launch clean air zones with a pilot project in Pathumwan district. As part of the project, the BMA will clean roads more frequently and plant more trees while creating a network including volunteers and private companies to monitor air quality in the city, Suwanna said.

via Bangkok choked with air pollution: deputy governor

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Pollution blankets Hong Kong on Wednesday, with air quality hitting very unhealthy levels in some parts

Pollution blankets Hong Kong on Wednesday, with air quality hitting very unhealthy levels in some parts
The environmental authority said an airstream was transporting pollutants to the territory, but rain and cloudier weather in the coming days might lower pollution levels.

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Air pollution blanketed multiple areas of Hong Kong on Wednesday, with 14 of 16 air quality monitoring stations showing a “high” to “very high” health risk in the early afternoon, prompting the environmental authority to urge old people and children to stay indoors.

The warning came barely a day after official statistics indicated that Hongkongers endured nearly twice the number of days of unhealthy air last year compared with the previous year.

By 3pm on Wednesday, all but two air quality monitoring stations were showing readings of 7 to 10 on the 11-tier Air Quality Health Index.

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Eastern District station had a reading of 6 while Tap Mun station is temporarily closed.

Several stations were forecast to have readings of 10+ or the “serious” health risk level, with ambient air readings at five – Mong Kok, Tuen Mun, Tung Chung, Kwai Chung and Tsuen Wan – hitting that level as at 5pm.

At levels of “very high” or above, children, the elderly and persons with existing heart or respiratory illnesses are advised to reduce or avoid physical exertion and outdoor activities.

In a statement, the Environmental Protection Department said it was detecting higher than normal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter across the territory.

It cited an airstream affecting Hong Kong transporting pollutants to the territory, while light north-westerly winds hindered their dispersal. However, it said it expected cloudier weather and some rain patches in the next couple of days, which would help lower pollution levels.

The department had earlier said that warmer temperatures and less rain had caused more pollution last year.

In its statement on Wednesday, it said: “Sunshine enhances photochemical smog activity and the formation of ozone and fine particulates, resulting in today’s high pollution in the vicinity of Hong Kong.”

“The high level of ozone has promoted the formation of nitrogen dioxide, particularly in parts of the urban areas and at the roadside.”

At the Causeway Bay roadside station, one of three in the heart of the city, hourly NO2 concentrations were at 269 micrograms per cubic metre of air at 11am, far in excess of the 200 mcg hourly concentration limit set by the government under its current air quality objectives and the recommended safe level set by the World Health Organisation.

Tung Chung clocked in at 295 mcg for NO2 and 258 mcg for respirable suspended particulates, also known as PM10 and 182 mcg for fine suspended particulates, or PM2.5.

Ambient air monitoring stations in Sha Tin and Tseung Kwan O measured one-hour average concentrations of smog-inducing ozone as high as 138 mcg per cubic metre, which was more than double last year’s annual average of 51 mcg.

Hong Kong’s eight-hour mean concentration limit for ozone is 160 mcg, while the WHO sets its guideline value at 100 mcg.

Ozone, a secondary pollutant, is formed when nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds – emitted from vehicles, industrial activities and power plant emissions – mix in the air under sunlight. It is closely linked to regional pollution and sources of volatile organic compounds can come from anywhere within the Pearl River Delta area.

According to the WHO, excessive ozone in the air can have a “marked effect on human health” and can cause breathing problems, trigger asthma, reduce lung function and result in lung disease.

Data from last year released by the department on Tuesday showed ozone pollution had increased by 19 per cent in five years, and was at its worst level in nearly two decades. Roadside NO2 pollution also reversed three years of consecutive decline, climbing by 5 per cent.

The number of hours when readings on the index hit “high” or above at monitoring stations added up to 44 days last year, from 26 days the preceding year. At roadsides, about 55 days of high risk air were measured compared to 31 days in 2016.

via Pollution blankets Hong Kong on Wednesday, with air quality hitting very unhealthy levels in some parts | South China Morning Post

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Smog returns across north days after China claims progress in winter pollution campaign

Air quality readings above 400 mark in Shanxi and well over level considered harmful to health in other cities in the region

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Smog blanketing northern China has pushed air quality readings in Shanxi province well past the level deemed hazardous to health.

By noon on Monday, the air quality index for the city of Linfen had shot up to 428, according to the China National Environmental Monitoring Centre’s real-time data.

The number refers to the concentration of small, breathable and toxic particles known as PM2.5. Smog levels above 300 are considered dangerous and the scale tops out at 500.

Elsewhere in the north, the index for the city of Anyang in Henan province reached 388 on Monday, while Weinan in Shaanxi hit 384 and Handan in Hebei was 382.

The heavy pollution came after the Ministry of Environmental Protection announced last week it had made significant progress in reducing the problem in the region, saying all cities in its winter campaign had met their air quality targets in the last three months of 2017.

It said levels of PM2.5 in Beijing, Tianjin and 26 other cities in the northern region had declined by 33.1 per cent between October and December from a year earlier.

But in a report released on Thursday, Greenpeace put that progress down to “exceptionally favourable weather” and strict environmental inspections to enforce curbs on industrial production, a reduction in the use of cars and a small-scale ban on coal burning.

China’s weather bureau on Monday said the widespread pollution had been worsened by stagnant air conditions.

On Sunday, state news agency Xinhua reported that three cities in Hebei province had raised their air pollution alerts to red – the highest in a four-tier warning system. Hebei, the country’s biggest steelmaking region which surrounds Beijing, has taken a series of measures including halting industrial production and halving the number of private vehicles on the roads by restricting cars on alternate days based on whether the last digit of their number plates is odd or even.

The province had not seen any heavy pollution from January 1 to 13, and the average concentration of PM2.5 was 60 micrograms per cubic metre – down 60 per cent from the same time last year.

China has declared war on smog, launching a five-year national air quality action plan in 2013 with 10 major measures to tackle atmospheric pollution including stepping up controls, industrial restructuring, technology upgrades and establishing a monitoring system.

Beijing, Tianjin and 26 surrounding cities that are prone to severe smog were also asked to reduce their average levels of PM2.5 by about 15 per cent in a six-month campaign to curb winter air pollution. The drive has seen smoke-stack factories closed, ineffective officials punished and coal use reduced across northern China. But a sweeping coal ban left many households without heating because of a natural gas supply shortage and the government was forced to back down on the policy.

 

via Smog returns across north days after China claims progress in winter pollution campaign | South China Morning Post

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Seoul issues emergency pollution measures

The Seoul Metropolitan Government is set to waive public transportation fees during peak commute hours on Monday to mitigate the worsening air quality brought on by fine dust particles.

The fee waiver is part of emergency measures that went into effect in Seoul at 5 p.m. Sunday as the fine dust level reached 57 micrograms per cubic meter as of 4 p.m.

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The city government said Sunday that fees will be waived for Seoul’s city buses, town buses, Subway Line Nos. 1 to 9 and the Ui-Sinseol LRT from the onset of their services through 9 a.m., followed by 6 p.m. through 9 p.m. Public transits in Gyeonggi Province and Incheon are not covered.

Vehicles belonging to the government as well as civil servants will be ordered to stay clear of roads based on the last digit of their license plates. For example, cars with license plates that end with an even number are allowed to be on the road on even dates, such as the 14th, while those ending with an odd number are allowed on odd dates, such as the 15th.

Under the policy, the government will also close 360 public parking lots, and reduce the operating hours of various construction and production sites under public ownership.

via Seoul issues emergency pollution measures

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Bad air quality along Utah’s Wasatch Front causes more than 200 pneumonia cases each year

Air pollution erodes the health of adults over age 65, a population particularly vulnerable to the effects of pneumonia.

Air pollution trapped by winter inversions along Utah’s Wasatch Front, the state’s most populated region, is estimated to send more than 200 people to the emergency room with pneumonia each year, according to a study by University of Utah Health and Intermountain Healthcare. Bad air quality especially erodes the health of adults over age 65, a population particularly vulnerable to the effects of pneumonia.

“When exposed to elevated levels of particulate pollution, older adults are more likely to get pneumonia, be hospitalized with severe pneumonia and also die from pneumonia in the hospital,” says the study’s lead author Cheryl Pirozzi, M.D., a pulmonologist and assistant professor of Internal Medicine at University of Utah Health. The research findings were published online in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

Improving air quality would not only keep people out of the hospital, the investigation reports, but would also save up to $1.6 million in health care costs along the Wasatch Front each year.

“The relationship of air pollution to the severity of pneumonia was particularly striking,” says co-author Robert Paine, M.D., a pulmonologist and professor of Internal Medicine at U of U Health. “These are not just theoretical risks, but are important events for real members of our community. This study also shows just the tip of the iceberg of the costs we in Utah bear as a result of air pollution.”

Utah’s Wasatch Front lies between two mountain ranges running from Salt Lake City to Provo and beyond. During the winter months, the region experiences periodic weather inversions that trap emissions along the metropolitan valley. Within days, air pollution worsens as the concentration of small particles rises, at times turning the air into the dirtiest in the country.

Beginning one day after air quality deteriorates, increasing numbers of people end up in the hospital with pneumonia. The increase in cases from a single day of poor air quality can last up to a week.

“It doesn’t have to be sky-high levels of particulate pollution to increase a person’s risk of developing severe pneumonia,” says Pirozzi.

When levels of fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, are less than 12 μg/m3 the air quality is categorized as “good.” During a typical inversion air pollution episode, PM2.5 increases to more than 40 μg/m3, categorized as “unhealthy for sensitive groups.” During these episodes, older adults are approximately 2.5-times more likely to have pneumonia, 2.5-times more likely to have severe pneumonia and triple their likelihood for dying in the hospital with pneumonia, says Pirozzi.

“The extent of the findings surprised us,” says the study’s senior author Nathan C. Dean, M.D., Section Chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care at Intermountain Medical Center and LDS Hospital, and a professor at University of Utah Health. “We were not expecting as large of a signal as we found.”

The investigators gauged the impacts of bad air quality by examining electronic health records from over 4,000 pneumonia patients admitted to 7 Intermountain Healthcare emergency departments along the Wasatch Front over the course of two years. They estimated daily effects of PM 2.5 within a week before presentation on the odds for getting pneumonia, severe pneumonia, and pneumonia related deaths. Concentrations of PM 2.5 were estimated at the patient’s residence, where older adults often spend the majority of their day.

The study attributes more than 100 pneumonia cases requiring hospitalization in the region to poor air quality. The seven facilities serve about half of the population living along the Wasatch Front, extrapolating to more than 200 cases each year.

“The results of our study are a call to action,” says Dean. “Wasatch Front air pollution is not just something to complain about, it is killing us.”

via Bad air quality along Utah’s Wasatch Front causes more than 200 pneumonia cases each year — ScienceDaily

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Residential biomass burning deadliest source of air pollution, reveals study

Of the total 1.1 million deaths related to air pollution in 2015, the highest number was due to residential biomass fuel burning, study says

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Residential biomass burning was responsible for at least 267,700 deaths in 2015, or nearly 25% of the deaths attributable to Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5, making it the most important single anthropogenic source of mortality due to air pollution, according to a study released on Thursday.

Coal combustion, dusts, transport, diesel, and brick kilns were the other major contributors to air pollution. Of the total 1.1 million air pollution related deaths in 2015, the burden falls disproportionately (75%) on rural areas.

Of the total 1.1 million deaths, the highest number was due to residential biomass fuel burning, followed by coal combustion from both thermal electric power plants and industry, which resulted in 169,000 deaths. Apart from that, anthropogenic dusts contributed to 100,000 deaths, open burning of agricultural residue contributed to 66,000, and transport, diesel, and kilns contributed to over 65,000 deaths in India in 2015.

The study, Burden of Disease Attributable to Major Air Pollution Sources in India, said it provides the first comprehensive assessment conducted in India to understand exposures at the national and state levels from Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5. It was conducted by IIT Bombay, the Health Effects Institute (HEI), a US-based global research institute, and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), another US-based research institute working in the area of global health statistics and impact evaluation

“This systematic analysis of emissions from all sources and their impact on ambient air pollution exposure found significant contributions from regional sources (like residential biomass, agricultural residue burning and industrial coal), underlying that from local sources (like transportation and brick kilns),” said Dr Chandra Venkataraman of IIT Bombay, who led the air pollution source analysis.

The study, however, noted that India has begun to implement clean fuels and pollution control programs for households, power plants, vehicles, and other sources, but emphasised that as the country’s population grows and ages, health impact from air pollution will increase.

In the decades ahead, the study noted, a much larger portion of the Indian population may be susceptible to heart and lung diseases tied most closely to air pollution exposure.

According to the study’s analysis of a projected 2050 scenario with no further air pollution control actions, the health burden would increase to 1.7 million deaths in 2030 and more than 3.6 million deaths in 2050.

However, the study concluded that with increasing levels of emissions reduction, more than over 1.2 million annual deaths (in 2050) could be avoided.

In November 2017, the India-wide Global Burden of Disease analysis had identified air pollution, both outdoors and in households, as the second most serious risk factor for public health in India.

In the past few years, especially during the winter months, high levels of air pollution in Delhi and adjoining National Capital Region (NCR) have received enormous attention. However, experts have repeatedly pointed out that air pollution is not just a Delhi-NCR phenomenon but a nationwide challenge that requires focused effort.

via Residential biomass burning deadliest source of air pollution, reveals study – Livemint

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Smoke from wildfires can tip air quality to unhealthy levels: Researchers analyze the long-term impact that wildfire smoke has on air quality in the US

Smoke plumes emanating from wildfires are swept high up into the air and spread over thousands of kilometers even days after a fire has been put out. The fine particles and harmful ozone contained in these plumes often have devastating effects on the air quality of US cities and consequently the health of their inhabitants.

Smoke plumes emanating from wildfires are swept high up into the air and spread over thousands of kilometers even days after a fire has been put out. The fine particles and harmful ozone contained in these plumes often have devastating effects on the air quality of US cities and consequently the health of their inhabitants. This is according to Alexandra Larsen of North Carolina State University in the US who led the first ever study taking a long-term look into the effects that wildfire smoke has on air quality across the US. The article appears in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology which is published by Springer Nature.

Since the 1970s, the number of large-scale wildfires in the US, which spread across 10,000 acres (~4000+ hectares) or more, has increased fivefold. This is worrying because exposure to particles and gases associated with wildfire smoke often leads people to be hospitalized with breathing and heart-related problems.

To measure the impact of wildfires on air quality, Larsen and her colleagues analyzed different sources of relevant data collected between 2006 and 2013. The data included the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Hazard Mapping System (HMS) that gathers daily satellite information about the presence and spread of smoke plumes.

Also, the researchers referred to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality System which monitors air pollution levels at different sites across the US, and levels of ozone and fine particulate matter on a given day. Fine particles and ozone have been linked to a range of health problems.

Larsen and her colleagues found that ozone concentrations were on average 11.1 percent higher on days when plumes were seen than on clear days. Unsurprisingly, fine particle levels were also significantly higher than normal (33.1 percent) on such days.

For Larsen, a striking finding is that the presence of wildfire smoke also had a knock-on effect and the effect was higher for ozone. While plumes had occurred only on 6-7 percent of days, these plumes accounted for 16 percent of unhealthy days due to small particles and 27 percent of unhealthy days due to ozone.

“Smoke-plume days accounted for a disproportionate number of days with elevated air quality index levels, indicating that moderate increases in regional air pollution due to large fires and long-distance transport of smoke can tip the air quality to unhealthy levels,” says Larsen.

The pollutants emanating from wildfire smoke had a greater impact across Massachusetts, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, and Kansas. The windswept plumes caused ozone concentrations over these cities to rise.

“Enhanced ozone production in urban areas is a concern because of the population size potentially impacted and because air pollution levels could be already elevated due to local and mobile sources,” explains Larsen.

via Smoke from wildfires can tip air quality to unhealthy levels: Researchers analyze the long-term impact that wildfire smoke has on air quality in the US — ScienceDaily

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