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91395271_4c6a7f44-048d-48e5-b2ad-432ee54e3600Polluted air affects 92% of global population, says WHO

Nine out of 10 people on the planet breathe polluted air, even outdoors, the World Health Organisation said.

 

Beijing Struck By SandstormCommonly Uses Cheap Cloth Mask Not Very Effective Against Air Pollution

A new study reveals that the cheap cloth masks, most commonly used in highly polluted areas in Asia and Southeast Asia, could not protect people from the harmful effects of air pollution.

6344674589_3a6a5a27cd_z_news_featuredSouth Asia’s pollution spreads to Tibet New research shows how haze from Nepal and India travels over the Himalayas, causing pollution spikes on northern slopes of Everest and central Tibet.

 

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Londoners urged to leave cars at home as polluted air drifts in from Europe 

Motorists in London were to leave their cars at home on Monday as air pollution drifted in from Europe. Westminster and the City were among the worst-affected areas, along with other busy roads, while the rest of London was issued with “moderate” warnings.  Experts at King’s College’s pollution monitoring centre, London Air, said levels of toxic fumes were thought to be particularly bad in the capital as polluted air flows across the channel from France.

Motorists in London were to leave their cars at home on Monday as air pollution drifted in from Europe.

Westminster and the City were among the worst-affected areas, along with other busy roads, while the rest of London was issued with “moderate” warnings.

Experts at King’s College’s pollution monitoring centre, London Air, said levels of toxic fumes were thought to be particularly bad in the capital as polluted air flows across the channel from France.

Green Party Assembly Member Caroline Russell said car-free days were no replacement for decisive action on the capital’s traffic problem.

“It’s great the Mayor has issued air pollution warnings but these don’t go far enough, you need to tackle pollution at its source not just tell people that it’s happening,” she told The Independent. 

“I have supported the Mayor’s idea for Paris-style ‘car free’ days but car free days are no substitute for decisive action on air pollution and traffic reduction.”

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Green Party peer Jenny Jones suggested Mayor of London Sadiq Khan should urge motorists not to drive during the air pollution spike.

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Public Health England advice for moderate air pollution cautions adults and children with lung or heart problems, who experience symptoms, to consider reducing strenuous physical activity, particularly outdoors.

Pollution is considered by the size of its particulate matter, with PM2.5 thought to be particularly dangerous for its ability to enter the lungs and seep into the bloodstream.

Diesel emissions are also known to produce high amounts of nitrogen dioxide pollution, thought to be significantly more harmful than emissions from petrol vehicles.

Mr Khan recently announced plans to spend £770 million on cycling schemes over the next five years to make cycling a “safe and obvious choice for Londoners”.

Ms Russell, who launched the plan Prioritising People in November to encourage the mayor to do more to deliver healthy streets, said extra investment was the only way to reduce pollution in the capital.

“Obviously the best way to bring pollution down is to make driving a bit less convenient and walking, cycling and public transport much more convenient, pleasant and affordable,” she told The Independent.

“Those vulnerable to dirty air risk their health just stepping outside their front doors. How much more are Londoners expected to take?”

According to City Hall, nearly 10,000 people die each year as a result of London’s poor air quality.

The Mayor has already pledged to pedestrianise Oxford Street and introduce low emissions zones in the capital to tackle the problem.

Last week, he introduced “anti-idling” pollution alerts at 2,500 bus stops and river piers, the entrances of all 270 Tube stations and on 140 signs next to the busiest main roads into London, with instructions to switch engines off when stationary to reduce emissions.

A spokesperson for Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “The Mayor is delivering hard-hitting measures to rid London of the dirtiest diesel long before 2025.

“His immediate plans include charges for the most polluting diesel cars in central from 2017 and bringing forward and extending the Ultra-Low Emission Zone which removes all but the newest Euro 6 diesel vehicles from as early as 2019.

“Across London all heavy vehicles will have to meet the same Euro 6 standard which removes the oldest models.

“The Mayor is transforming London’s buses into one of the greenest fleets in the world and last week announced no more pure diesel buses will be procured from 2018. The Mayor is doing everything in his power to tackle London’s toxic air and get rid of the most polluting vehicles, but he cannot do this alone and is calling on the Government to face its responsibility and implement a national diesel scrappage scheme now.”

Source: Londoners urged to leave cars at home as polluted air drifts in from Europe | The Independent

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REVIEW: RESPRO® TECHNO, LA MASCHERA PER CAMBIARE ARIA

techno

Lasciarsi condurre da profumi e colori, pedalando gioiosamente con la consapevolezza di fare del bene a se stessi e alla terra. Dovrebbe essere lapalissiano e non un ossimoro. E invece i nostri polmoni rubano le parole da “Il male minore” di Niccolò Fabi e urlano “Non riesco a respirare. Come mai? “

Respro® è un’azienda inglese che lavora per il benessere di noi irriducibili ciclisti urbani ed extraurbani. Alla base della sua ventennale attività vi sono infatti la consapevolezza del galoppante aumento dell’inquinamento atmosferico e l’impegno nel trovare una soluzione agli effetti negativi che questo può avere sulla nostra salute.

La Respro® ci consente di scegliere tra una vasta gamma di maschere, ognuna di esse con caratteristiche specifiche per l’uso che se ne intende fare.

techno mask

Tra le maschere suggerite per chi utilizza giornalmente la bicicletta negli spostamenti in ambito cittadino, la Techno è quella su cui concentreremo la nostra attenzione.

La maschera Techno è dotata sia di filtro Hepa™, che agisce contro le polveri sottili, che di tecnologia Dynamic ACC (Activated Charcoal Cloth), adatta ad assorbire gli odori irritanti.  Questa mescolanza di attributi la rende, rispetto a tante altre, molto efficace su larga scala.

Differentemente da altre maschere, il filtro integrato nella Techno consente una facile respirazione grazie alla bassa resistenza all’inalazione, anche durante un’attività aerobica intensa. E questo è fondamentalmente dovuto al carico di fibre catturate elettrostaticamente e ai micro particolati trattenuti.

La maschera Techno è realizzata in neoprene, è adatta anche alle basse temperature, è lavabile, disponibile in tre misure e nei colori rosso, blu o nero.

Con in dosso una delle Respro® Masks potremmo ricordare vagamente Hannibal Lecter, ma con intenzioni decisamente meno inquietanti e nella testa un sogno di aria pura.

Per maggiori informazioni e per vedere tutta la gamma Respro®, collegatevi al sito internet dell’azienda.

via BiciMagazine

 

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Four of world’s biggest cities to ban diesel cars from their centres 

Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City will ban the most polluting cars and vans by 2025 to tackle air pollution

Four of the world’s biggest cities are to ban diesel vehicles from their centres within the next decade, as a means of tackling air pollution, with campaigners urging other city leaders to follow suit.

The mayors of Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City announced plans on Friday to take diesel cars and vans off their roads by 2025.

Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, led the initiative at the C40 conference of mayorson climate change, taking place in Mexico this week. She said: “Mayors have already stood up to say that climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face. Today, we also stand up to say we no longer tolerate air pollution and the health problems and deaths it causes, particularly for our most vulnerable citizens.”

“Soot from diesel vehicles is among the big contributors to ill health and global warming,” added Helena Molin Valdés, head of the United Nations’ climate and clean air coalition, noting that more than nine out of 10 people around the globe live where air pollution exceeds World Health Organisation safety limits.

Miguel Ángel Mancera, mayor of Mexico City, said increasing investments in public transport would also help clean the city’s air, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Giorgos Kaminis, mayor of Athens, said his goal was to remove all cars from the city centre. The city authorities will also work with national governments and manufacturers, and promote electric vehicles and cleaner transport.

Recent research has uncovered the scale of the problem, with 3 million premature deaths a year attributed to dirty air, as well as millions of other illnesses, particularly in children.

Green campaigners welcomed the announcement, saying it showed that it was possible to clean up big cities.

Alan Andrews, lawyer at the NGO ClientEarth, whose legal victory has forced a UK government re-think of air pollution plans, said: “This shows political leaders across the world are waking up to the damage diesel is doing to our health. But 2025 is a long time away when you consider the 467,000 premature deaths caused by air pollution in Europe [alone] every year.”

He called on other leaders to “go further and faster [with] bold new measures”.

Jenny Bates, of Friends of the Earth, added: “This bold move to get rid of diesels, the most polluting vehicles, is exactly what is needed. We need cleaner vehicles and fewer of them. Getting rid of diesel is essential and we must also give people genuine alternatives to driving.”

She also called on London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, to phase out diesel vehicles from the city by 2025, and for new clean air zones in all of the UK’s cities and major towns, with funding taken away from roads to promote sustainable alternative transport.

Diesel fuel use is a key cause of air pollution in cities, as the engines produce nitrogen dioxide, a harmful gas, and tiny particulates that can lodge in the lungs. These forms of pollution can also interact with other substances to create, in some conditions, a toxic soup.

Yet diesel use has been rising in many countries, partly for economic reasons and partly as a consequence of measures to combat climate change – diesel vehicles burn fuel more efficiently than conventional petrol engines, reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

It is not clear whether diesel vehicles in the four cities will be subject to a total ban, or what areas of the cities will be covered. Some cities already have measures in place intended to reduce congestion and clean up the air, such as low-emission zones that involve traffic restrictions.

Last year, the Volkswagen Group was engulfed by scandal when it was discovered that some of its diesel cars contained technology to disguise the true level of their harmful emissions.

Source: Four of world’s biggest cities to ban diesel cars from their centres | Environment | The Guardian

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‘Shocking’ photo shows London covered in thick black layer of smog as pollution hits twice normal level 

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Contrast: the cold layer of air can be seen trapping pollution close to the ground Pete Buckney

This “shocking” photo shows London covered in a filthy layer of black smog as unusually high levels of air pollution hit the capital.

The picture, taken by IT worker Pete Buckney at the top of Horniman Hill in south London, shows a stark contrast between the darkness blanketing the city and the blue sky above.

Air pollution was more than double the usual level for the capital on Thursday, according to the London Air Quality Network.

It came as temperatures plummeted below freezing amid clear skies and low wind levels.

Dr Gary Fuller, of King’s College London’s Environmental Research Group, explained: “On cold days you get a cold layer of air that sits close to the ground and all of our air pollution is put into that layer, therefore the concentration goes up.

“Yesterday was one of those rare moments where air pollution was actually visible; you can’t normally see it like that.”

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-09-29-14He added that normal air pollution levels for London are between one and three but “yesterday we had numbers which were breaking the 7, 8, 9, 10 mark.”

The figures come from the London Air Network’s ‘nowcast’ 1-10 scale, which measures levels of four toxic pollutants at locations across the city.

“Air pollution can seem intangible but there are a few moments when it is made visible and you can see it co clearly,” Dr Fuller said.

Mr Buckney, who cycles up Horniman Hill every day to drop his children at school, said it is on the clearest, brightest days that air pollution looks most severe.

The 48-year-old told the Standard: “On clear days you can really see the state of things, and yesterday it was shocking.

“I cycle up this hill every day and I love the view of London, but it is very concerning to see how bad the pollution is.

“When I can see the air pollution I avoid cycling into town and try to take the quickest routes possible, so that I don’t exert myself too much.”

Another picture posted on Twitter by quantative analyst William Smith shows a similar layer of pollution visible looking out across the O2 arena to east London.

Winds from the Atlantic were expected to ease pollution later on Friday but the Environment Department is still forecasting moderate to high pollution following yesterday’s very high peak.

Parents have also been advised to “take care” when taking their baby outside by the pioneering Plume Labs company after it recorded toxic levels of air pollution.

The firm put the level of air pollution in London as “high” based on World Health Organisation limits, which are stricter for some pollutants than EU rules used by the Government and other experts.

A spokesman for London mayor Sadiq Khan said: “Sadiq has proposed the toughest crackdown on polluting vehicles by any major city in the world.

“He is also consulting on a new emissions surcharge and introducing an expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone a year earlier than the previous Mayor planned.”

“[This week] he revealed that no more pure diesel double-deck buses will be added to the capital’s fleet from 2018 and that all new single-decks for central London will be zero-emission.

“The Mayor cannot tackle air quality on his own and he is also calling for the Government to rise up to the challenge and pass new legislation fit for the 21st century.”

Source: ‘Shocking’ photo shows London covered in thick black layer of smog as pollution hits twice normal level | London Evening Standard

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Parents warned over taking babies outside in London as air pollution levels soar 

londonsmog0706aParents in London were today advised to “take care” when taking their baby outside because of toxic air pollution levels.

The warning came from the pioneering Plume Labs company whose aim is “making the air more transparent”.

The firm put the level of air pollution in London as “high” this morning based on World Health Organisation limits, which are stricter for some pollutants than EU rules used by the Government and other experts.

Following hour-by-hour “high” readings, Plume Labs’ advice was for parents to “take care” when they “bring baby out” and when doing outdoor sports, and to “take it easy” when cycling or eating outside.

The firm’s chief executive Romain Lacombe said: “We are not saying that you should not go out with your baby. We are advising to avoid major roads and high traffic areas.”

Experts at King’s College London, using the EU limits, put air pollution at “high” in Brent mid-morning and “moderate” in Sutton, Westminster, the City, Lambeth, Croydon and Ealing.

Advice from Public Health England for moderate air pollution is: “Adults and children with lung problems, and adults with heart problems who experience symptoms, should consider reducing strenuous physical activity, particularly outdoors.”

Other people should “enjoy your usual outdoor activities”.

Only when dirty air levels become “high” should the general population consider reducing activity if experiencing discomfort.

Simon Birkett, of Clean Air in London, said: “It’s fair to say that any vulnerable people, young or old, should consider reducing activity today if they feel symptoms such as difficulty breathing or tightness in the chest. But please check the official Government advice.”

Professor Frank Kelly, air quality expert at King’s College, added: “If we really want to do more to improve public health we would follow the WHO guidelines.”

Shirley Rodrigues, deputy mayor for environment and energy, said children’s lungs were particularly vulnerable to “London’s illegal and filthy polluted air” and urged the Government to do more to tackle “this diabolical situation”.

The Environment Department is forecasting moderate to high pollution in urban areas in southern England, after a very high peak in London yesterday. Winds from the Atlantic were expected to ease pollution later today.

Meanwhile, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling signalled that ministers will not “water down” air quality rules after Brexit to allow a third runway to be built at Heathrow.

The Cabinet minister insisted the west London airport can be allowed to expand within limits on nitrogen dioxide which are currently being widely breached in the capital.

Environmentalists and campaigners dispute this and there are concerns that when the UK quits the EU, the Government could abandon the EU pollution limits. But Mr Grayling told the Commons environmental audit committee: “I cannot conceive of this Government or a successor government wanting to water down air quality standards.

“We all now recognise that there is a very real issue.”

Source: Parents warned over taking babies outside in London as air pollution levels soar | London Evening Standard

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Why Do Some People Itch So Much? The Answer Is In The Air 

Researchers from the Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine and Tohoku Medical Megabank Organization in Japan have discovered why air pollutants cause some people to be more susceptible to atopic dermatitis, a kind of skin inflammation. Their work was published in Nature Immunology.

While the correlation between air pollution and the prevalence and severity of atopic dermatitis is well-known, the underlying mechanism was not widely understood. AhR, a transcription factor activated by air pollutants, causes hypersensitivity to itch through the expression of the neurotrophic factor artemin, according to Dr. Masayuki Yamamoto, who led the research team with Drs. Takanori Hidaka and Eri Kobayashi.

“Scratching makes things worse because the skin barrier gets disrupted and sensitization to antigens is enhanced. That’s why some people are predisposed to atopic dermatitis,” said Yamamoto.

In human clinical samples, the researchers observed high levels of AhR activation and artemin expression in atopic dermatitis patients, but not in healthy individuals. This is also consistent with the findings in a similar study of mice, and further supports the notion that chronic activation of AhR is an important environmental factor causing atopic dermatitis.

Currently, steroid drugs are used as a symptomatic treatment for atopic dermatitis. However, in some cases, the itch remains. The research team believes that control of the itch is important and hopes that with the results of this study, new treatments using inhibitors of AhR and/or artemin can be found.

The article can be found at: Hidaka et al. (2016) The Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor AhR Links Atopic Dermatitis and Air Pollution via Induction of the Neurotrophic Factor Artemin. Read more from Asian Scientist Magazine at: http://www.asianscientist.com/2016/11/in-the-lab/air-pollutants-atopic-dermatitis/

Source: Why Do Some People Itch So Much? The Answer Is In The Air | Asian Scientist Magazine | Science, Technology and Medicine News Updates From Asia

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Study reveals why air pollutants cause some people to be at risk for atopic dermatitis

Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine and Tohoku Medical Megabank Organization (ToMMo) are pleased to announce the published results of a study into why air pollutants cause some people to be more susceptible to atopic dermatitis, a kind of skin inflammation.

“We have discovered that AhR, a transcription factor activated by air pollutants, causes hypersensitivity to itch, through the expression of neurotrophic factor artemin,” says Dr. Masayuki Yamamoto, who led the research team with Drs. Takanori Hidaka and Eri Kobayashi. “Scratching makes things worse because the skin barrier gets disrupted and sensitization to antigens is enhanced. That’s why some people are predisposed to atopic dermatitis.

While the correlation between air pollution and the prevalence and severity of atopic dermatitis is well known, the underlying mechanism behind it was not widely understood, until now.

Itch causes scratching, which disrupts the skin barrier function, making it easy for antigens to penetrate. This results in the patients being sensitized to antigens and predisposed to allergic diseases such as asthma. This is known as “the allergic march,” and is observed in patients with atopic dermatitis.

In human clinical samples, high levels of AhR activation and artemin expression are observed in atopic dermatitis patients but not in healthy individuals. This is also consistent with the findings in a similar study of mice, and further supports the notion that chronic activation of AhR is an important environmental factor causing atopic dermatitis.

Currently, steroid drugs are used as a symptomatic treatment for atopic dermatitis. However, in some cases, the itch remains. The research team believes that control of the itch is important and hopes that with the results of this study, new treatments using inhibitors of AhR and/or artemin can be found.

Source: Study reveals why air pollutants cause some people to be at risk for atopic dermatitis

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Air pollution export map reveals where to target clean-up

Take any city in the UK, and you’ll likely find that the skies are cleaner today than they were 40 years ago. Sophisticated scrubbers on power station chimneys, catalytic converters on vehicle exhausts and cleaner fuels have all helped to reduce the haze. But it isn’t just cleaning up at home that has made our skies clearer; we’ve also been outsourcing much of our dirty work to other countries. For the first time, a study shows exactly how much air pollution each country is exporting, and where it is exporting it to.

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For those of us living in developed countries it is common to be surrounded by imported goods. The car parked outside your house, your laptop, camera and smartphone, the food you are preparing for dinner, and even the chair you are sitting on may well have originated many hundreds of miles away. Some of those goods will have been produced responsibly, whilst others will have added to the choking smogs that frequent cities like Tianjin in China.

Although it has long been known that high-income countries are responsible for a significant share of the pollution burden in developing countries, it has always been hard to map out exactly where air pollution is being exported to. To resolve this, Daniel Moran from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and Keiichiro Kanemoto from Shinshu University in Japan used air pollution maps and trade databases from 187 countries to model the link between severe air pollution hotspots and global supply chains. In particular they modelled the spatial patterns of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and PM10 particles, and assessed how these had changed over time.

The results clearly show that the US and European countries have achieved impressive emissions reductions at home, but at the same time have significantly increased their pollution footprint abroad. “We anticipated this spatial spread, but the volume of emissions exported was far higher than we had expected,” said Kanemoto, whose findings are published in Environmental Research Letters (ERL).

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Perhaps not surprisingly, the team found that China bears the greatest pollution burden for other countries, with India not far behind. Meanwhile, the US and countries across Europe are guilty of offloading some of the largest pollution burdens onto others. “The UK, for example, has increased imports from China and other countries to satisfy its consumption,” said Kanemoto. “This alleviates the UK’s domestic air pollution but drives growth in global air pollution.”

Over time, the rapid growth in consumption in developed countries appears to have massively increased their air pollution footprints. For example, Kanemoto and Moran show that in 1970, 90% of the US sulphur dioxide footprint rested in just 1.5% of global land area. By 2008 the footprint extent had doubled to 3.1% of global land area. The equivalent NOx footprint growth for the US has been even more dramatic, rising from 0.6% to 3.6% of global land area over the same time period, and PM10 worse still, growing 15-fold to 9.9% of global land area by 2008.

But the new pollution export maps could help to identity the most effective abatement opportunities and focus clean-up efforts. Kanemoto and Moran show that if the US targeted clean-up in the 1% of land area where its air pollution footprint falls most heavily, those efforts could reach 80% of its sulphur dioxide and NOx footprints, and 55% of its PM10 footprint.

“We hope that identifying hotspots linked to trade will help and encourage the down-stream users – companies, countries and individuals – to participate in clean-up measures at those hotspots,” said Kanemoto.

Source: Air pollution export map reveals where to target clean-up – environmentalresearchweb

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