Air pollution deaths expected to rise because of climate change

If things don’t change, researchers say air pollution worsened by climate change could cost tens of thousands of lives a year

New research predicts that air pollution worsened by climate change will cost tens of thousands of lives if changes are not made.

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, estimates that if current trends continue, climate change will be responsible for another 60,000 air pollution-related deaths globally in the year 2030. By 2100, that number could jump to 260,000.

Previous research has found that some 5.5 million people worldwide already die prematurely due to air pollution.

The authors say this is the most comprehensive study to date on how climate change will affect health as a result of exacerbating air pollution. The research incorporates results from several of the world’s top climate change modeling groups in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Japan and New Zealand.

Hotter temperatures “can speed up the reaction rate of air pollutants that form in the atmosphere,” lead study author Jason West, an associate professor of environmental sciences and engineering in the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, told CBS News. “Places that by and large get drier from climate change would be expected to increase air pollution concentrations.”

The study estimates that climate change is expected to increase air pollution-related deaths globally and in all regions except for Africa.

“Air pollution affects things like heart attacksstroke, cardiopulmonary disease, and lung cancer,” he said. “So because air pollution affects those causes it has a big effect on health.”

The researchers emphasize that a concerted effort to slow down climate change could make a big difference for our future. The U.S. commitment to such efforts was thrown into question when President Trump withdrew from the Paris climate accord in June. That agreement, signed by more than 190 other countries, aims to reduce carbon emissions, which scientists say have been fueling global warming.

“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions has a really big benefit for air pollution and therefore for human health,” West said.

In addition to increasing air pollution deaths, climate change is also expected to have a growing impact on health through rising rates of heat stress, the wider spread of infectious diseases, and reduced access to clean water and food.

Source: Air pollution deaths expected to rise because of climate change – CBS News

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German court orders diesel ban in bid tackle air pollution

Judge demands ban placed on most polluting diesels entering German city of Stuttgart from January 2018, ruling previous plans from city government not ambitious enough

A judge in the German city of Stuttgart has ordered the most polluting diesel cars be banned from entering the city from January 2018 in a bid to curb illegal levels of air pollution.

The judge ruled on Friday that the government of Stuttgart must re-write its Air Quality Plan to include a ban on the most polluting diesels in the city from next year, after he deemed the current plan inadequate for bringing air pollution back within legal limits.

Stuttgart has some of the worst air pollution in Germany, with levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter regularly breaching legal limits.

In response to the issue the Stuttgart government drew up a draft Air Quality Plan, but environmental lawyers ClientEarth took the government to court arguing that although it contained some positive measures it did not go far enough to restrict pollution.

The judge agreed, adding that restricting access to the city from the most polluting cars was unavoidable if the area was to meaningfully cut pollution in as short a time as possible.

The move follows similar rulings in Dusseldorf and Munich, and represents the latest in a series of victories for clean air campaigners across Europe.

“The judge has clarified that a diesel ban is unavoidable,” ClientEarth lawyer Ugo Taddei said in a statement. “Stuttgart’s authorities must now find rapid and effective ways to solve the region’s air quality issues. This should include a more structured approach that acknowledges the emissions issues with diesel vehicles – it must also not put undue confidence in what retrofitting can achieve.”

However, a wider court case later this year will determine whether cities have the power to ban diesels from their streets, or whether it must be up to the federal government to decide whether such restrictions can be enforced.

The move came just days after the UK government unveiled a new air quality plan, pledging to ban the sale of internal combustion engine cars by 2040 and instruct local authorities to take fresh steps to improve air pollution in urban areas.

The plan raises the prospect of local authorities charging some diesel vehicles if they enter polluted areas, but stressed that alternative measures need to be attempted first.

The move was widely criticised by green groups, including ClientEarth, who argued the government should act more urgently to tackle current air pollution and bring forward wider plans for charging zones.

Source: German court orders diesel ban in bid tackle air pollution

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Maternal exposure to air pollution early in pregnancy linked to preterm, low birth weight babies

Exposure to air pollution early in a pregnancy could increase risk for preterm birth and low birth weight, according to a study led by researchers at NYU School of Medicine, and published on July 27 in Environmental Health Perspectives.

The study, conducted in mice, found that exposure to air pollution during the equivalent of the first or second trimester in humans was linked to more negative birth outcomes than exposure later in pregnancy.

Researchers studied the effects of fine particulate air pollution, which is made up of particles less than one ten-thousandth of an inch in diameter, or PM2.5. Inhalable and almost invisible to the eye, this type pollution comes from car exhaust, coal-fired power plants, and other industrial processes. PM2.5exposure has previously been linked to risk for asthma and heart disease.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, preterm birth and low birth weight increase risk for vision and hearing problems, learning problems and even death.

Using PM2.5 levels comparable to those found in highly-polluted urban environments, researchers examined obstetric outcomes based on exposures during different stages of pregnancy in mice. The findings, according to the study’s authors, could have both implications for physicians as they advise women during pregnancy, as well as for air pollution policy.

“This first study of this problem in mice adds to the growing body of evidence that inhalation of particulate matter from implantation through the second trimester of pregnancy is potentially dangerous,” says lead author and investigator Jason Blum, PhD, MS, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Medicine at NYU School of Medicine.

Implications for Clinical Care and Policy

Past studies had linked high levels particulate matter exposure to low birth weight, but impact of the timing of maternal exposure on birth weight had been debated. The new findings suggest that exposure during the first two trimesters has the greatest affect, say the study authors.

In the study, pregnant mice were randomly assigned to one of two groups– one exposed to filtered air and a second to concentrated PM2.5. The mice exposed to particles were also randomly assigned for exposure during one of four gestational periods designed to mirror the stages of human pregnancy: period 1(0.5-5.5 days); period 2(6.5-14.5 days); period 3(14.5-16.5 days); or period 4(0.5-16.5 days).

Researchers measured both the duration of pregnancy and birth weight of the offspring to identify the effects of concentrated PM2.5 over the time periods. Their results show that exposure to air pollution during period one resulted in preterm birth for about 83 percent of exposed mouse litters. Similarly, exposure to PM2.5 from conception to the end of the second trimester–periods one, two and three–resulted in an 11.4 percent decrease in birth weight for 50 percent of the litters.

Exposure during the first and second trimester also came with decreased body length, decreased placental weight, and decreased anogenital distance, which can reflect abnormal hormone levels, says Blum.

“These findings could lead physicians to advise women to avoid high pollution areas or use air filtration systems during the early stages of pregnancy,” says senior study author Judith Zelikoff, PhD, a professor in the Department of Environmental Medicine at NYU School of Medicine. “With preterm birth and low birth weight having such serious health consequences, the need for further research in this area is greater than ever.”

Source: Maternal exposure to air pollution early in pregnancy linked to preterm, low birth weight babies

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Scottish Government accused of showing “remarkable disregard for public health” on air pollution 

Environmental groups accuse UK Government of “kicking urgently needed action into the long grass” with plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040

Environmental groups have accused the UK Government of “kicking urgently needed action into the long grass” with its plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040.

Plans to tackle air pollution in Scotland also came under fire, with Friends of the Earth Scotland saying the strategy unveiled by Scottish ministers showed “a remarkable disregard for public health”.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove yesterday announced plans to ban the sale of polluting vehicles by 2040 as part of the UK’s clean air plan.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the move, which aims to reduce the health damage caused by air pollution while also helping to mitigate climate change caused by transport emissions, showed the Government was “determined to deliver a green revolution”.

But the scale of ambition came under fire from campaigners, with FoE Scotland describing air pollution as a “public health crisis which is killing thousands of people early every year” and branding the announcement “simply not good enough”.

Meanwhile WWF Scotland called for a more ambitious plan, saying “the clean-up needs to happen much faster”.

Both groups called on the Scottish Government to phase out the sale of polluting cars and vans by 2030.

The Federation of Small Businesses also raised questions over the announcement, pointing out that businesses had bought diesel cars based on government advice and warning the UK announcement is “light on the detail and still leaves many small businesses in the dark”.

The UK Government has been involved in a long-running legal battle with environmental group Client Earth over dangerously high levels of air pollution, with the High Court recently ordering ministers to publish their draft clean air strategy.

The Scottish Government published its own Cleaner Air for Scotland strategy to outline its role in meeting UK-wide targets.

There are 38 Pollution Zones in Scotland, with emissions thought to cause over 2,500 early deaths each year.

But an update on the Scottish plans, published today, also faced strong criticism from environmentalists, with FoE Scotland accusing the Scottish Government of showing “a remarkable disregard for public health by its highly unambitious plans”.

Emilia Hanna, air pollution campaigner for FoE Scotland said: “In spite of a court ruling last year which demanded improved plans, Ministers are serving up practically the same old proposals, which simply don’t go far enough. This continued foot-dragging and time wasting will cost thousands of lives.

“In the updated plans the Scottish Government has reaffirmed its commitment to introduce only one Low Emission Zone next year, but failed to detail how the Zone will be funded and where it will be. One Low Emission Zone is simply not enough, because there are 14 Councils with unsafe levels of toxic air.  For the many people whose lives are impacted by dirty air on a daily basis this lack of ambition is unacceptable.”

Gina Hanrahan, acting head of policy at WWF Scotland said: “This is welcome news from the UK Government, but the clean-up needs to happen much faster. That’s why we’re calling on the Scottish Government to include the phase out of new diesel and petrol cars by 2030, ten years earlier than proposed by Westminster, in the forthcoming Climate Change Bill.  Ending the dominance of fossil fuel vehicles will reduce emissions, clean up our polluted air and tackle a public health crisis.”

Source: Scottish Government accused of showing “remarkable disregard for public health” on air pollution | Holyrood Magazine

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New diesel and petrol vehicles to be banned from 2040 in UK 

Ministers will also unveil a £255m fund to help councils introduce steps to deal with vehicle pollution.

New diesel and petrol cars and vans will be banned in the UK from 2040 in a bid to tackle air pollution, the government is set to announce.

Ministers will also unveil a £255m fund to help councils tackle emissions from diesel vehicles, as part of a £3bn package of spending on air quality.

The government will later publish its clean air strategy, favouring electric cars, before a High Court deadline.

Campaigners said the measures were promising, but more detail was needed.

They had wanted government-funded and mandated clean air zones, with charges for the most-polluting vehicles to enter areas with high pollution, included in the plans.

After a protracted legal battle, the government was ordered by the courts to produce new plans to tackle illegal levels of harmful pollutant nitrogen dioxide.

Judges agreed with environmental campaigners that previous plans were insufficient to meet EU pollution limits.

Ministers had to set out their draft clean air strategy plans in May, with the final measures due by 31 July.

Local measures could include altering buses and other transport to make them cleaner, changing road layouts, altering features such as speed humps, and re-programming traffic lights to make vehicle-flow smoother.

It is thought ministers will consult on a scrappage scheme later this year, but there is no firm commitment.

Ministers have been wary of being seen to “punish” drivers of diesel cars, who, they argue, bought the vehicles after being encouraged to by the last Labour government because they produced lower carbon emissions.

The UK announcement comes amid signs of an accelerating shift towards electric cars instead of petrol and diesel ones, both at home and abroad:

  • Earlier this month, President Emmanuel Macron announced similar plans to phase out diesel and petrol cars in France, also from 2040.
  • BMW announced on Tuesday that a fully electric version of the Mini will be built at the Cowley plant in Oxford from 2019.
  • Swedish carmaker Volvo has said all new models will have an electric motor from the same year.

Source: New diesel and petrol vehicles to be banned from 2040 in UK – BBC News

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Only Euro-5 Vehicles Will Be Registered in 2019 

Only Euro-5-compliant vehicles will be registered as of March 2019, the head of the Department of Environment said.

“Since 2014-15, the government only allows vehicles with Euro-4-compliant engines to be registered and this will continue until 2019-20 when the emission standards will be raised to Euro-5,” Massoumeh Ebtekar was also quoted as saying by IRNA.

The move is in line with efforts to reduce air pollution in Iran’s metropolises.

Ebtekar, who is also a vice president, said a total of 7 million cars and motorcycles ply the streets of Iran’s polluted capital, Tehran.

“It will be a disaster if these vehicles don’t meet minimum emission standards,” she warned.

In line with plans to reduce air pollution, Euro-4 standard fuel is distributed in 15 metropolises and 10 provincial capitals. The government is targeting nationwide distribution by 2020.

A comprehensive scheme was devised in 2000 to effectively rein in air pollution in Tehran and other metropolises, but the plan was shelved by the government of former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As a result, air pollution turned into a major environmental issue in the summer of 2013, when the present administration came to power.

The plan called for removing old and dilapidated gas-guzzlers off the roads, implementing measures for collecting toxic gasoline vapors at filling stations, promoting compressed natural gas as a cleaner and cheaper fuel, expanding the number of CNG stations and conducting mandatory vehicle inspections, among other things. Along with efforts to increase gasoline quality, President Hassan Rouhani’s administration has instructed automakers to make products that comply with Euro-4 emission standards.

The government banned the production of highly-polluting, carburetor-equipped motorcycles from September 2016 and is urging people to opt for eco-friendly electric motorbikes.

Acknowledging the non-stop efforts of authorities on standardization of vehicles, Ebtekar said, “We expect the Oil Ministry to produce Euro-5 or better quality fuel.”

DOE has declared that Iran’s seemingly unending struggle with air pollution costs the people about $30 billion a year, nearly double the $16 billion reported by the World Health Organization in 2014.

With 26,000 annual deaths due to air pollution, Iran ranks 16th in terms of air pollution-related deaths, according to figures released by WHO.

Source: Only Euro-5 Vehicles Will Be Registered in 2019 | Financial Tribune

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Rush hour pollution may be more dangerous than you think: In-car air study of commuting cars finds dangers to human health 

Everyone knows that exposure to pollution during rush hour traffic can be hazardous to your health, but it’s even worse than previously thought. In-car measurements of pollutants that cause oxidative stress found exposure levels for drivers to be twice as high as previously believed.

The first in-car measurements of exposure to pollutants that cause oxidative stress during rush hour commutes has turned up potentially alarming results. The levels of some forms of harmful particulate matter inside car cabins was found to be twice as high as previously believed.

Most traffic pollution sensors are placed on the ground alongside the road and take continuous samples for a 24-hour period. Exhaust composition, however, changes rapidly enough for drivers to experience different conditions inside their vehicles than these roadside sensors. Long-term sampling also misses nuanced variabilities caused by road congestion and environmental conditions.

To explore what drivers are actually exposed to during rush hour, researchers from Duke University, Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology strapped specially designed sampling devices into the passenger seats of cars during morning rush hour commutes in downtown Atlanta.

The devices detected up to twice as much particulate matter as the roadside sensors. The team also found that the pollution contained twice the amount of chemicals that cause oxidative stress, which is thought to be involved in the development of many diseases including respiratory and heart disease, cancer, and some types of neurodegenerative diseases.

The results were published on June 27 in the journal Atmospheric Environment.

“We found that people are likely getting a double whammy of exposure in terms of health during rush-hour commutes,” said Michael Bergin, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Duke. “If these chemicals are as bad for people as many researchers believe, then commuters should seriously be rethinking their driving habits.”

For the experiment, Roby Greenwald, a research assistant professor at Emory at the time, built a sampling device that draws in air at a similar rate to human lungs to provide detectable levels of pollution. The device was then secured to the passenger seats of more than 30 different cars as they completed more than 60 rush hour commutes.

Some drivers took highway routes while others stuck to busy thoroughfares in downtown Atlanta. While other details like speed and having windows rolled down varied, all of the sampling found more risk in air exposure than previous studies conducted with roadside sampling devices.

“There are a lot of reasons an in-car air sample would find higher levels of certain kinds of air pollution,” said Heidi Vreeland, a doctoral student in Bergin’s lab and first author of the paper. “The chemical composition of exhaust changes very quickly, even in the space of just a few feet. And morning sun heats the roadways, which causes an updraft that brings more pollution higher into the air.”

Reactive oxygen species found by this study can cause the body to produce chemicals to deal with the reactive oxygen. Particulate matter causes the same response. In combination, the exposure triggers an overreaction that can be destructive to healthy cells and DNA.

Oxidative stress — the phenomenon antioxidant foods are supposed to address — is thought to play a role in a wide range of diseases including Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, heart failure and heart attack, sickle cell disease, autism, infection, chronic fatigue syndrome and depression.

“There’s still a lot of debate about what types of pollution are cause for the biggest concern and what makes them so dangerous,” Bergin said. “But the bottom line is that driving during rush hour is even worse than we thought.”

“My two cents is that this is really an urban planning failure,” said Greenwald, who is now an assistant professor of environmental health at Georgia State University. “In the case of Atlanta, the poor air quality on the highways is due to the fact that 6 million people live in the metro area, and most of them have little choice but to get into an automobile to go to work or school or the store or wherever. Auto-centric transportation plans do not scale well to cities of this size, and this is one more example of how traffic negatively affects your health.”

Source: Rush hour pollution may be more dangerous than you think: In-car air study of commuting cars finds dangers to human health — ScienceDaily

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Vehicle inspection system becomes stricter

Cars are now being checked up stricter in vehicle inspection centers across the country with a focus on catalyst inspection and emissions control, the deputy chief of Iran’s Department of Environment said.

Prior to this, the inspection of vehicles was done according to a bill adopted 22 years ago and the upgraded standards were not considered in the vehicle inspection system, ISNA quoted Saeed Motesaddi as saying.

“Nowadays, cars have more efficient systems for emissions control. So, we should update the inspection system as well,” he added.

Motesaddi expressed his hope that people would welcome the new vehicle inspection system and have their cars checked up to meet the latest standards.

“I hope that the new system would decrease air pollution by 10 percent,” he said.

He also pointed out to the inauguration of an integrated vehicle inspection system in Tehran, through which the traffic police can detect any violation and enforce the law by seeing whether vehicles display up-to-date decals stickers using special cameras.

As cars are now a part of our daily life and they release substantial amounts of chemicals they appeared to be one of the main culprits for the persisting air pollution in the metropolises of Iran.

Majlis (the parliament) has tasked responsible organizations and executive bodies with combating and eliminating air pollution. In this line, the Department of Environment has been authorized to shut down pollutant industries worsening the effects of air pollution in metropolises and decreased the vehicle inspection five-year interval to four years.

Source: Vehicle inspection system becomes stricter – Tehran Times

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