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Blood pressure risk for children exposed to air pollution in womb Children exposed to air pollution when in the womb are more likely to have high blood pressure, researchers have found.

Study: Street-level air pollution increases health risk among elderly  A new study published today in the journal Environmental Health shows that differences in traffic-related air pollution are associated with higher rates of heart attacks and deaths from heart disease in the elderly.

Hawaii’s silent danger: Volcanic smog, otherwise known as ‘vog’ The recent eruption of Hawaii’s Kilauea has generated apocalyptic scenes of bright red lava exploding hundreds of feet into the sky and burning buildings consumed by the molten rock. But there’s another danger, silent and often unseen, that has been with Hawaiian residents and visitors forever in varying degrees. In Hawaii they call it “vog,” short for volcanic smog.

 

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Hamburg prepares for diesel driving ban with signs warning motorists

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The city of Hamburg this week put up signs on its streets warning motorists of diesel restricted zones – an indication to residents that they are taking the diesel driving bans seriously.
Limited diesel driving bans were introduced for two busy roads in the Hanseatic city after a top court in February ruled that German cities could impose the bans to combat air pollution.

Almost immediately after the verdict, the port city became the first to announce plans for a driving ban on Max-Brauer-Allee and Stresemannstrasse in the Altona district from late April.

The city subsequently made signs which warn people of diesel restricted zones and possible alternative routes. This week the signs started to make an appearance in the Altona district.

The ban in Max-Brauer-Allee applies to all vehicles that do not meet the Euro 6 emissions standard, while the ban in Stresemannstrasse only bars trucks which are below the Euro 6 standard.

Excluded from the driving ban are residents and their visitors, as well as ambulances, garbage trucks and delivery vehicles.

Nonetheless, the ban has not officially started and an exact start date has not yet been set, reports Spiegel Online.

The Hamburg Ministry of the Environment and Energy (BUE) expects the ban in Hamburg to be implemented the week after next.

Motorists in breach of the ban can expect to cough up fines of €25 for cars and €75 for trucks.

There are no plans for further diesel driving bans in Hamburg, according to the BUE.

But when the Hanseatic’s city’s bans are officially put in place, it will be the first German city to implement diesel driving bans, meaning that other cities could follow.

As the ruling obligates Baden-Württemberg and North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) to consider driving bans, the two smog-clogged state capitals of Stuttgart and Düsseldorf must seek to control air pollution limits as quickly as possible.

Stuttgart expects initial diesel driving bans to be implemented at the end of the year.

via Hamburg prepares for diesel driving ban with signs warning motorists – The Local

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Diverting diesel trucks spared lungs in Sao Paulo

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The positive health outcomes of the intervention could guide the formulation of similar transport polices in other cities.

In densely populated cities like Sao Paulo, many vehicles running on diesel such as commercial trucks, vans, and buses circulate right by where people live, causing constant exposure to high levels of diesel emissions. The fuel emits highly pollutive particulate matter and nitrogen oxides that increase the risk of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, among other illnesses.

In 2010, Sao Paulo constructed a beltway along sparsely populated areas that are about 15 miles away from the city center. The original intent of building the beltway was to enable heavy-duty vehicles to bypass the densely populated neighborhoods, and thereby ease traffic congestion in the inner-city roads.

While the intervention did immediately relieve road congestion by 20 percent, researchers from the National University of Singapore found that the effect was short-lived, as passenger cars quickly replaced the inner-city road space which the heavy-duty vehicles had left behind.

However, the researchers also found that the replacement of heavy-duty diesel vehicles with gasoline-ethanol passenger cars on the inner-city roads resulted in a sustained drop in the level of nitrogen oxides in the air, reducing air pollution in the city even after the traffic congestion rebounded.

The improved air quality in Sao Paulo also translated into long-lasting positive health outcomes for its residents. The researchers observed that the compositional change in traffic in the inner-city roads resulting from the beltway’s diversion of diesel vehicles led to an overall estimated reduction of 5,000 hospital admissions associated with respiratory and cardiovascular illness every year. The researchers quantify about one annual premature death for every 100-200 diesel trucks using inner-city roads.

“The unintentional improvement in air quality and public health resulting from the Sao Paulo beltway demonstrates how judicious transport policies can benefit public health,” says study leader Alberto Salvo, associate professor in the economics department at NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

“Other world megacities such as London, Paris, New Delhi, and Singapore may stand to gain similarly by limiting the circulation of diesel vehicles in the cities, particularly during the day when people are out and about.”

Nearly 40 percent of London’s total nitrogen oxides emissions are attributed to diesel vehicles. Relative to North America, Europe’s households have significantly adopted diesel cars over gasoline and alternative fuels.

Different cities may adopt different abatement strategies, such as the Ultra-Low Emission Zone charge in London and the temporary ban on diesel cars in Oslo, and thus it is crucial that policymakers evaluate a range of policies in order to select a combination of strategies most effective for their cities.

Sao Paulo’s beltway construction provides a rare intervention, at the scale of a real-world metropolis, of the air and health benefits from shifting the urban transportation fuel mix away from diesel. Policymakers in other cities where human exposure to diesel runs high may learn from Sao Paulo’s experience.

The study appears in the Journal of the European Economic Association. Coauthors are from NUS and the University of Sao Paulo.

Source: National University of Singapore

via Diverting diesel trucks spared lungs in Sao Paulo – Futurity

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WHO States Cairo Second Most Polluted City in World

Cairo has been ranked as the second most polluted large city in the world, according to a report issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), which studied air pollution globally from 2011 until 2015.

In 2017, the United Nations Environment Programme stated in a report that 40,000 people in different parts of Egypt all died from pollution. The report pointed to the absence of trees within Egypt’s capital as leading to the increase of air pollution.

The U.N. report explained that Cairo is similar to Iran’s capital Tehran and the U.S. city of Los Angeles in their air pollution ratios. The situation in Cairo differs slightly as the topography allows for an effective decrease in air pollution compared to the other two cities.

India’s city of New Delhi topped the list at first place while two other Indian cities, Kolkata and Mumbai, occupied the fourth and fifth places on the list. Turkey’s city of Istanbul came in at the eighth place.

The WHO report noted that seven million people worldwide die from exposure to polluted air, addeding that nearly 4.2 million people died in 2016 from air pollution; pollution from fuel exhaust also resulted in the death of 3.8 million people in 2016.

Being that it is the capital of the country, hosting a population of 19.5 million, Cairo is considered to be the most congested city in Egypt. The Qalyubia, Giza and Cairo provinces together represent what is known as Greater Cairo.

via WHO States Cairo Second Most Polluted City in World | Al Bawaba

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Blood pressure risk for children exposed to air pollution in womb

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Children exposed to air pollution when in the womb are more likely to have high blood pressure, researchers have found.

They believe that tiny particles from car exhausts and factories can cross the placenta and cause long-term harm.

Their study – the first of its kind – looked at 1 293 mothers and their children aged three to nine. Youngsters exposed to the highest level of pollution in the last three months of pregnancy were 61 % more likely to have high blood pressure.

The researchers looked at ‘fine particulate matter’, which is produced by cars and the burning of coal. Dr Noel Mueller, who led the study at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, said the results – published in the journal Hypertension – showed the need for clean air regulations. But he said it was too early to say for sure that pollution caused the high blood pressure.

Oliver Hayes of Friends of the Earth said the study was the latest to highlight the risks of air pollution to unborn babies. He added: ‘We need urgent Government action to protect society’s most vulnerable from diesel fumes.’

via Blood pressure risk for children exposed to air pollution in womb | IOL Lifestyle

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Study: Street-level air pollution increases health risk among elderly

A new study published today in the journal Environmental Health shows that differences in traffic-related air pollution are associated with higher rates of heart attacks and deaths from heart disease in the elderly. Scientists from Environmental Defense Fund and Kaiser Permanente Northern California’s Division of Research combined data from the nonprofit’s block-by-block study of air pollution in Oakland, CA, with 6 years of electronic health records from more than 40,000 local residents to evaluate the impacts of air quality between neighbors, people who live on the same street or within a few blocks of each other at an unprecedented resolution.

Specifically, the study shows that 3.9 parts per billion higher NO2 concentrations are associated with a 16 percent increased risk of diagnosed heart attacks, surgery or death from heart disease among the elderly and 0.36 microgram per meter cube higher black carbon concentrations are associated with a 15 percent increased risk of having a cardiac event and/or dying from coronary heart disease among the same population.

The effect estimates of street-level neighborhood differences in long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution on cardiovascular events in the general population of adults, were consistent with results found in previous studies, though not statistically significant. The associations among the elderly add to a growing body of evidence indicating higher susceptibility to air pollution.

In 2017, EDF revealed the results of our work with Google Earth Outreach, which deployed Google Street View cars to create one of the largest, most spatially precise datasets of mobile air pollution measurements ever assembled and mapped the differences in air quality within Oakland It also revealed unexpected variation in air pollution within smaller neighborhoods and even individual city blocks. This latest study combines that highly resolved air map with Kaiser Permanente’s health records to determine the health impacts of unhealthy air on the streets outside residents’ homes.

EDF is also visualizing these results in new maps, which show pollution associated relative risk for residents living in specific parcels.

“With 80 percent of the US population living in urban areas and cardiovascular disease contributing to one in six heath care dollars spent, it is critical that we better understand what is driving health disparities in cities,” said Ananya Roy, EDF Health Scientist and a co-author of the study. “Local action requires local information. While researchers have been able to study air pollution and health effects across populations in large neighborhoods, towns or cities, accurately evaluating and quantifying risks from air pollution at street level has been elusive until now.

“Our study shows the power of comprehensive health records for conducting cutting edge environmental health research,” said Stacey Alexeeff, lead author of the study and Research Scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research. “We’ve broken new ground by analyzing the health impact of air pollution on the city block scale for the first time.”

This research is part of EDF’s effort to advance the science behind air quality monitoring, using an emerging wave of environmental innovation to make pollution not only visible but actionable. EDF is not only tracking and measuring air pollution, but also bringing academia, industry, community groups and the public sector together to develop solutions and take these ideas to scale. EDF is already working on future air pollution mapping projects and will assess the health impacts of local pollution in new locations as well.

“As EDF builds on our research by expanding to other communities and exploring other kinds of data we can collect and analyze, we’ll be able to more accurately pinpoint environmental threats and do so in a way that’s scalable,” said Steven Hamburg, Chief Scientist at EDF. “We hope to empower people with this new information, driving solutions that improve the health of millions.”

via Study: Street-level air pollution increases health risk among elderly | Environmental Defense Fund

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Seoul to ban old diesels cars on air-polluted days

Old diesel cars will be banned from being driven in Seoul when heavy fine dust alerts are issued.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government ordered that diesel vehicles, registered before Dec. 31, 2005, will be restricted in downtown Seoul from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. when emergency action against heavy air pollution is needed. Any violators will be fined 100,000 won ($94).

The restriction will take effect next month after a regulation review.

According to government data, 200,000 vehicles are subject to the restriction in Seoul and 2.2 million nationwide. Given that 22.69 million cars were registered as of March, one out of 10 will be affected.

The city government initially considered restricting diesel-powered cars registered before December 2005 that weigh 2.5 tons or above.

However, through public hearings and discussions, Seoul reached a conclusion to expand the number of cars to be controlled.

Diesel vehicles that were registered outside Seoul and weigh less than 2.5 tons and those driven by the disabled will have a grace period until February next year to install emission reduction devices on their vehicles.

“We considered giving some exceptions to some vehicles driven by those who make a living using aged diesel cars. However, we decided to minimize the exemption range to increase the efficiency of the initiative,” said an official of the city government.

Diesel cars have taken heavy flak for polluting the air, with the government announcing measures aimed at reducing fine dust emissions.

Meanwhile, the city government recently withdrew its plan to provide free public transportation on days fine dust warnings are issued.

via Seoul to ban old diesels cars on air-polluted days

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Short trips and cold starts double air pollution

Modern vehicles can emit twice as much pollution in the first five minutes of running, according to new research.

Analysis of the EQUA Index data shows that the average daily distance driven in urban areas is not sufficient for a vehicles pollution control system to warm up and function effectively.

Global Action Plan is calling on drivers to ditch their cars on Clean Air Day (June 21), in favour of walking or cycling shorter trips.

More than half of car trips nationally are less than five miles. In urban areas such as inner London, a third of car trips are less than two miles

The combination of the pollution burst that is being created as cars warm up in the first five minutes of journeys, together with the large proportion of journeys being short ones, is making a significant contribution to the UK’s air pollution challenge.

Drivers are suffering the worst effects of this pollution burst as there can be up to double the amount of pollution inside vehicles.

Larissa Lockwood, head of health at Global Action Plan, the organisers of Clean Air Day, said: “Taking collective action to tackle air pollution every day can make a massive difference, particularly if we cut down on using the car for these short, polluting journeys, many of which can be walked or cycled instead.

“Imagine if more people left the car at home every day, particularly for these short journeys. We could achieve similar levels of clean air on a daily basis as we did when the roads closed during the London Marathon which led a massive 89% drop in air pollution. We would suffer far fewer health problems from air pollution and we would also reduce levels of congestion and free up our streets, making them safer.

“Let’s take action together on Clean Air Day, 21 June, to make a real difference to the air we breathe. Clean Air Day has developed a range of advice, top tips, and information on the actions that everyone can take to protect themselves from pollution and reduce their impact.”

via Short trips and cold starts double air pollution | Environment News

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