Air pollution gnawing at our monuments
New Delhi, May 13, 2013: The best known heritage monuments — a symbol of the country’s rich history and culture — are breathing uneasy
because of rise in toxicity of air. Most of the Indian cities are known for their heritage monuments but
impact of rising air pollution on them is not measured. The government for the first time has made an attempt to highlight the gravity of the
problem by collating data on pollution levels in the vicinity of 138 heritage monuments in 39 cities.
The comparison showed particulate matter pollution around monuments was
within the national ambient air standard in only six of these cities —Shimla,
Hassan, Mangalore, Mysore, Kottayam and Madurai. In the remaining, it was up to four times higher than the national standard of
60 micro grams in cubic meters of air.
Red Fort or Qutub Minar in Delhi or Charminar in Hyderabad or
Bara Imambara in Lucknow; are all located in the most polluted
regions of these cities. In fact, Chandni Chowk, where Red Fort is situated, has highest
particulate matter air pollution — about four times the national standard — for any place in the country.
“The historical buildings located in cities are threatened by vehicular emissions and other gaseous pollutants being emitted in the air,” environment minister
Jayanthi Natarajan told Lok Sabha this week. KS Rana, director (science) with the Archeological Survey of India said
they needed to observe if the condition of the monument was deteriorating due to
environmental factors. “Stone/lime plaster/clay etc are the most affected due to bio-deterioration,” he said.
There are three main causes of deterioration — physical, biological and
chemical. While air pollution is counted in ‘chemical’ category, dust pollution is termed as ‘physical’ pollution. Both chemical and dust
pollution is high around these monuments. The government has not enforced any traffic management plan around most
monuments, which are in congested parts of cities, except around Taj
Mahal, where the Supreme Court issued directions to check air pollution levels. Source:Hindustan Times
May 10, 2013 : New research shows that growing up in areas where air
pollution is increased raises the risk of insulin resistance (the prescursor to diabetes) in children. The research is published in
"Diabetologia", the journal of the European Association for the Study of
Diabetes (EASD), and is by Elisabeth Thiering and Joachim Heinrich, Helmholtz Zentrum
München, Neuherberg, Germany, and colleagues.
Air Pollution Increases Risk of Insulin Resistance in Children
Previous studies have identified links between air pollution and other
chronic conditions such as atherosclerosis and heart disease. However to
date, epidemiological studies that have examined associations between long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution and type 2 diabetes
in adults are inconsistent, and studies on insulin resistance in children are scarce. Thus this new study sought to explore the possible
association between air pollution and insulin resistance in children.
"Although toxicity differs between air pollutants, they are all considered potent oxidisers that act either directly on lipids and
proteins or indirectly through the activation of intracellular oxidant pathways," says Heinrich.
"Oxidative stress caused by exposure to air pollutants may therefore
play a role in the development of insulin resistance. In addition, some
studies have reported that short- term and long-term increases in particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) exposure lead to elevated
inflammatory biomarkers, another potential mechanism for insulin resistance."
In this new study, fasting blood samples were collected from 397 10-year-old children within a follow-up of two prospective German birth
The researchers found that in all crude and adjusted models, levels of
insulin resistance were greater in children with higher exposure to air
pollution. Insulin resistance increased by 17% for every 10.6 µg/m3 (2 standard deviations
[SDs] from the mean) increase in ambient nitrogen
dioxide (NO2) and 19% for every 6 µg/m3 (2 SDs) increase in particulate matter of up to 10 ?m in diameter. Proximity to the nearest major road
increased insulin resistance by 7% per 500 metres..Source: ScienceDaily
Cleaner cook stoves may help reduce air pollution
Washington, May 4,2013 (ANI): In a broadly based response, scientists, international aid agencies and governments have
launched efforts to develop and introduce cleaner, more efficient cook
stoves that may improve health and livelihoods and reduce climate emissions.
It may be the 21st century, but nearly half the world's population still
cooks and heats with open fires or primitive stoves that burn wood, animal dung, charcoal and other polluting solid fuels.
In an article in the ACS journal Environmental Science and Technology,
Susan C. Anenberg and colleagues described the health and environmental consequences of those old-fashioned energy sources.
They include an estimated 4 million deaths annually from inhalation of
soot and other material in the smoke, and air pollution that contributes
to global warming. Reliance on wood and charcoal also contributes to deforestation and other problems.
The article describes efforts to introduce millions of cleaner stoves
into developing countries and to better understand the resulting benefits.
Some new stoves, for instance, can cut fuel use by 30-60 percent, while
reducing air pollution exposure and climate-warming pollution. It also discusses the importance of evaluating stove
performance for a variety of policy goals and of ensuring that the new stoves are
acceptable and affordable to users. (ANI)
Earth Day is every day for thousands of Ontario companies
TORONTO, April 22, 2013 (CNW): On a day when millions of people around
the world paused to acknowledge the importance of the natural
environment, more than 65,000 Ontarians did what they do each day of the
week: They went to work at a company that is focused on creating a cleaner and healthier environment.
"For more than 3,000 companies in this province, every day is Earth
Day," said Alex Gill, the Executive Director of the Ontario Environment
Industry Association (ONEIA). "These firms include ones that manage our
water, reduce air pollution, generate and conserve energy and build the
clean technologies that will drive the economy of the future."
Ontario is home to Canada's largest collection of environment and
cleantech companies. According to Statistics Canada, this growing
sector generates more than $8-billion in annual revenues - including
more than $1-billion from booming export markets. Recent research shows
that these firms are also on a hiring streak.
A survey conducted for
ONEIA by Stuart-O'Hara Knowledge Management Services in late 2012 found
that 73% had hired full-time staff in the past twelve months and 93%
said they were likely to hire additional staff within the coming year.
"These are largely high-paying knowledge jobs of the future," added
Gill, "Ontario needs to find ways to recognize and encourage the great
work these companies are doing." Founded in 1992, ONEIA is the business network for the province's
growing environment and cleantech sector. The ONEIA network includes
environmental technology, product and service companies, law, investment
and insurance firms, institutes, universities and governments. Through
their innovation and experience in Ontario and around the world, our
environment and cleantech industry provides market-driven solutions for
society's most pressing environmental problems. SOURCE: Ontario Environment Industry Association (ONEIA)
Traffic pollution can give you a heart attack
April 20, 2013 (ANI): 19, 2013: A new study has found that long-term exposure to fine particle matter
(PM) air pollution in part derived from traffic pollution is also associated with atherosclerosis independent of traffic noise.
Details of the study were described by Dr Hagen Kalsch from West-German
Heart Center in Essen, Germany, who explained that the study was designed to establish where responsibility for the increased heart risks
associated with traffic actually lay - with noise or particle pollution, or both. The study was based on data from the German Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study,
a population-based cohort of 4814 participants with a mean age of 60 years. Their proximity to roads with high traffic volume was calculated
with official street maps, their long-term exposure to particle pollutants assessed with a chemistry transport model, and road traffic
noise recorded by validated tests.
"These two major types of traffic emissions help explain the observed
associations between living close to high traffic and subclinical atherosclerosis. The considerable size of the associations underscores
the importance of long-term exposure to air pollution and road traffic noise as risk factors for
atherosclerosis," he said.
Fine PM and traffic noise are believed to act through similar biologic
pathways, thereby increasing cardiovascular risk; they both cause an imbalance in the
autonomic nervous system, which feeds into the complex mechanisms regulating blood pressure, blood lipids, glucose level, clotting and
TAC, alongside coronary artery calcification (CAC), is a reliable marker
of subclinical atherosclerosis. While sharing cardiovascular risk factors with coronary atherosclerosis, TAC like TAC has been shown to be
independently related to the incidence of cardiovascular events. A further study reported at this congress from French
investigators found that all the main air pollutants (carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen
dioxide (NO2), sulphur dioxide (SO2), and particulate matter measured as
PM10 or PM2.5, but with the exception of ozone (O3)) were significantly associated with an increased risk of myocardial infarction.
The research result was presented at the EuroPRevent 2013 congress in Rome
Air pollution from China raises mercury levels around Mt. Fuji
April 18, 2013: Levels of mercury in the skies around Mount Fuji were found to be 10
times higher than that of the average urban area in 2007, a new survey says.
A research team led by Osamu Nagafuchi, an environmental science professor at the University of Shiga Prefecture, has measured mercury
concentration levels in the air at the top of 3,776-meter-high Mount
Fuji every summer since 2007, using equipment designed specifically for the measurement of mercury levels.
By also analyzing weather data, the team learned that the airborne
mercury had been carried into Japan by air blowing in through north eastern China and the Korean
Peninsula. “We have confirmed the cross-border mercury pollution from the
continent,” said Nagafuchi. “It is necessary to enhance monitoring to
clarify the actual conditions (of the pollution).” Nagafuchi said he thinks mercury was blown from the continent together
with other airborne pollutants.
Financially supported by the Environment Ministry, the research team
detected a record 25.1 nanograms of mercury per cubic meter at Mount
Fuji in late August 2007. Nagafuchi also confirmed a rise in mercury concentration levels at Mount
Kuromidake on Yakushima island, Kagoshima Prefecture; Ibukiyama mountain
straddling Shiga and Gifu prefectures; and Mount Norikuradake in the
Northern Japan Alps, when northwest winds blow in from China.
The research team measured concentration levels in the three mountains,
at altitudes of 1,831 meters, 1,348 meters and 2,876 meters, respectively.
At Mount Norikuradake last October, the mercury levels surged fivefold
to 2.5 nanograms from 0.5 nanograms in half a day, when a cold front
blowing in from China dumped the first snow of that season. Source:. ajw.asahi.com
Deforestation cost government Rs. 2000 cr
New Delhi, April 06, 2013: The destruction of forests for economic growth has resulted in loss of
around Rs. 2,000 crore to India in three years, a new government report,
released by PM Manmohan Singh on Friday, said. The report, for the first time,
attempts to analyse impact of economic growth on nature — forests, eco-systems, agriculture — and human health
and provide a number for policy-makers for proper “economic evaluation”.
Despite the limitations of the data, the report said loss to the economy
was around Rs. 1900 crore on just two accounts — carbon sequestration
and non-timber forest produce. Indian forests absorb about 10% of total
global warming causing carbon emissions and forest produce is a livelihood source for a large and
marginalized tribal population. During 2009 and 2011, India lost around 5,339 sq kms of forestland owing
to the diversion of forestland for economic activities even though 4,972
sq km of green cover was added as compensation. “It shows that we (India) are not growing in an
economically-sustainable manner,” said Dr Haripriya of IIT (Bombay), who
analysed the limited environmental data on forest and ecology.
This number is small, considering India’s huge public money inflow. But
it is because the report anchored by Professor Partha Dasgupta of Cambridge University did not take into account adverse health impact due
to the loss of forests and its impact on local ecology and agriculture,
which contributed about 14% to India’s Gross Domestic Product. Dr Haripriya of IIT (Bombay) said India was not growing in an
environmentally- sustainable manner on basis of her analysis of limited environmental data.
Air pollution in India is rising in most cities and its health impacts
are well documented. Just two of around 250 cities monitored by the Central Pollution Control Board as air pollution levels below the
national ambient standards. A recent Health Effects Institute study had
described air pollution as fifth biggest cause of deaths in India. The report also said just in three years 2009 to 2011
India lost around 5,339 sq kms of forestland of its diversion for economic
activities. Source: Hindustan Times
NASA Mission Will Track Earth's Ozone
Huntsville AL (SPX) April 04, 2013: Ozone stinks. People who breathe it gag as their lungs burn. The EPA
classifies ground-level ozone as air pollution. Yet without it, life on
Earth would be impossible. A fragile layer of ozone 25 km above Earth's
surface is all that stands between us and some of the harshest UV rays
from the sun. The ozone molecule O3 blocks radiation which would otherwise burn skin and cause cancer.
On Mars, which has no ozone layer to protect it, solar UV rays strafe
the surface with deadly effect, leaving the apparently lifeless planet
without the simplest of organic molecules in the upper millimeters of
exposed Martian soil. To keep track of our planet's ozone layer, NASA is about to launch the
most sophisticated space-based ozone sensor ever: SAGE III, slated for
installation on the International Space Station in 2014. "The ISS is in the perfect orbit for SAGE III," says Joe
Zawodny, Project Scientist for the instrument at the Langley Research Center. "It
will be able to monitor ozone all around the Earth during all seasons of the year."
SAGE III works by using the Sun and Moon as light sources. When either
one rises or sets behind the edge of the Earth, SAGE III analyzes the
light that passes through Earth's atmosphere. Ozone and other molecules
absorb specific wavelengths that reveal their density, temperature and location.
"SAGE III is, essentially, analyzing the colors of the sunset to track
ozone," says Zawodny. "It sounds romantic, but this is hard science."
Researchers began to worry about ozone in the early 1970s that manmade CFCs, a key ingredient of
common aerosol sprays, could destroy ozone in the stratosphere. In 1985, researchers with the British
Antarctic Survey announced abnormally low ozone concentrations above
Halley Bay near the South Pole. Our planet had an "ozone hole," and it
was rapidly growing. Source: NASA Science News
Researchers predict boost in trees and shrubs due to global warming in Arctic
April 2, 2013: The Arctic is set to become a lush and green landscape due to global
warming, researchers have predicted. Experts say the wooded areas in the region could increase by 50% over
the coming decades - and accelerate global warming in the process. 'Such widespread redistribution of Arctic vegetation would have impacts
that reverberate through the global ecosystem,' said Richard Pearson,
lead author on the paper and a research scientist at the American Museum
of Natural History's Center for Biodiversity and Conservation.
In a paper published on March 31 in Nature Climate Change, scientists
reveal new models projecting that wooded areas in the Arctic could increase by as much as 50 percent over the next few decades.
The research team—which includes scientists from the Museum, AT&T
Labs- Research, Woods Hole Research Center, Colgate University, Cornell University, and the University of York—used climate scenarios for the
2050s to predict how this trend is likely to continue in the future.
The scientists developed models that statistically predict the types of
plants that could grow under certain temperatures and precipitation. Meltwater forms icicles in spring as the thaw proceeds in the Arctic
midnight sun: Researchers say the arctic could soon contain large wooded
areas It shows the potential for massive redistribution of vegetation across
the Arctic, with about half of all vegetation switching to a different class and a massive increase in tree cover.
When the sun hits snow, most of the radiation is reflected back to space.
But when it hits an area that's 'dark,' or covered in trees or shrubs,
more sunlight is absorbed in the area and temperature increases. This adds to the global warming problem.
Earlier this month new images revealed by Nasa show the Arctic
is becoming lusher and greener as temperatures rise. Abisko, sub-arctic Sweden, in 1997 and 2009
showing a massive difference in greenery The images show how the extreme of the Northern Hemisphere is changing,
with previously frozen areas now showing lush green grass and trees growing Source: MailOnline
Cost of Environmental Damage in China Growing Rapidly Amid Industrialization
Beijing, March 31, 201: The statistic came from a study by the Chinese Academy of Environmental
Planning, which is part of the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
The figure of $230 billion, or 1.54 trillion renminbi, is based on costs
arising from pollution and damage to the ecosystem, the price that China
is paying for its rapid industrialization. “This cuts to the heart of China’s economic challenge: how to transform
from the explosive growth of the past 30 years to the sustainable growth
of the next 30 years,” said Alistair Thornton, a China economist at the
research firm IHS Global Insight. “Digging a hole and filling it back in again gives you G.D.P. growth.
It doesn’t give you economic value. A lot of the activity in China over the last few years has been digging holes
to fill them back in again — anything from bailing out failing solar
companies to ignoring the ‘externalities’ of economic growth.” And the costs could be even higher than the ministry’s estimate, he
said. The $230 billion figure is incomplete because the researchers did
not have a full set of data. Making such calculations is “notoriously difficult,” Mr. Thornton said.
The 2010 figure was reported on Monday by a newspaper associated with
the ministry, and so far only partial results of the study are available.There have also been constant concerns over water and soil pollution.
The discovery of at least 16,000 dead pigs in rivers that supply
drinking water to Shanghai has ignited alarm there. This week, China
Central Television reported that farmers in a village in Henan Province
were using wastewater from a paper mill to grow wheat. But one farmer
said they would not dare to eat the wheat themselves. It is sold outside
the village, perhaps ending up in cities, while the farmers grow their
own wheat with well water. The Beijing government on Thursday released details of a three-year plan
that is aimed at curbing various forms of pollution, according to a report on Friday in China Daily, an official English-language newspaper. The report quoted Wang
Anshun, Beijing’s mayor, as saying that sewage treatment, garbage incineration
and forestry development would cost at least $16 billion. Source: The New York Times
Air pollution turning Charminar black
HYDERABAD, March 28, 2013: The 400-year-old Charminar - the most
recognizable symbol of Hyderabad -and other ancient monuments within the
300 metre heritage zone in the area are turning black due to pollution
and their plasters are peeling off due to constant vibrations caused by
passing vehicles, is the considered opinion of conservation architects and environmentalists.
Conservationists blamed the government for failing to protect the
Charminar precincts, a key requisite for acquiring Unesco's world heritage status. They have urged the
government to immediately implement the long-pending pedestrianization project, which involves traffic
management and development of environs to conserve the heritage identity
of the precinct. "The archaeology department and the GHMC are solely
responsible for the bad state of monuments and their failure to educate
the government on the importance of taking immediate steps to protect
the structures," said L Panduranga Reddy, noted historian of Hyderabad.
Over the past five years, the Charminar precincts, home to several
ancient structures like Mecca Masjid, Jama Masjid, Char Kaman (the four
arches) and the Badeshahi Ashoorkhana, have recorded the highest pollution figures,
next only to Punjagutta, records from Andhra Pradesh Pollution Control Board reveal.
Experts say the measurable total particulate suspended matter
(TSPM), respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) and oxides of sulphur and
nitrogen are all posing huge threats to the ancient structures. "The dust forms a layer after accumulating over a period of time. This
is causing blackening of the surface. The organic matter that settle on
the structure along with the dust leads to moth formation when it rains,"
Suryanarayana Murthy, a conservation architect said. In 2011, Charminar was the most polluted area, but its pollution level
slid only slightly to take the second spot in 2012. The TSPM recorded in
2010 was 267.5 which shot up to 287 in 2012. The heritage precinct of Charminar comprises many historic structures
dating back to the period Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah, the founder of
Hyderabad. Source: The Times of India
Tibet glaciers melting due to S Asian pollution: China
Beijing, March 26, 2013: About 90 percent of glaciers in Tibet called the Third Pole region, are shrinking
because of black carbon pollution "transferred from South Asia" to the
Tibetan Plateau, a Chinese scientist has warned. The Third Pole region, which is
centred on the Tibetan Plateau and concerns the interests of the surrounding countries and regions, covers
more than five million square kilometres and has an average altitude of more than 4,000 metres.
The area has the largest number of glaciers outside the polar region and
exerts a direct influence on the social and economic development of some
of the most densely populated regions on earth, including China and India.
Influenced by global warming, its alpine glaciers have seen drastic changes in recent years, such as thinning and
shrinkage, which pose potential geological hazards to people around the plateau.
Ongoing research over more than 30 years has also given scientists a new
understanding of pollution on the Tibetan Plateau, Yao said claiming
that most of the pollutants were coming from South Asia. Latest investigations now show that black carbon generated from
industrial production in South Asia is being taken to the Tibetan
Plateau by the Indian monsoon in spring and summer, he said in a report
in state-run China Daily. "The accumulation of black carbon on the plateau will accelerate the
shrinking of glaciers, bringing with it persistent organic pollutants
that will be deposited in the soil" he said. An investigation using topographic maps and satellite images
revealed the retreat of 82 glaciers, area reduction by 7,090 glaciers and the
mass- balance change of 15 glaciers, the Daily report said. "Systematic differences in glacier status are apparent from region to
region, with the most pronounced shrinkage in the Himalayas, the south
eastern part of the region. Some of the glaciers there are very likely to disappear by 2030," Yao said.
"The shrinkage generally decreases from the Himalayas to the continental
interior and is smallest in the western part. Some glaciers there are
even growing," he said. He said changes in the glaciers will be accelerated if the planet continues to warm. Potential consequences would be unsustainable water supplies from major
rivers and geo-hazards, such as glacier lake expansion and flooding,
which could threaten the well-being of people downstream. Source: PTI
NASA-developed Airocide tech cleans household air
March 21, 2013: NASA collaborated with the University of Wisconsin, and the result was an air-purifying system known as
Airocide. Flash forward to the present, and that technology has been licensed for
use in a household product that reportedly eliminates all sorts of airborne nasties.
Airocide purifiers have actually been in use in places such as grocery
stores and food-packing plants since 1998, and were introduced to medical settings such as
hospitals in 2003. Now they're finding their way into the home for the first time.
Each Airocide unit incorporates a reaction chamber that contains
thousands of tiny glass rings coated inside and out with titanium dioxide
(TiO2). With the help of a
high-intensity light, the TiO2 produces hydroxyls. When airborne organic molecules are drawn in and make contact with those
hydroxyls, the carbon bonds in those molecules are broken. In this way, virtually any organic compound passing through the reaction
chamber is rendered inert. The hydroxyls are tethered to the TiO2 surface, and can’t escape from the chamber. No ozone or other gases are
released, no chemical additives are used (besides the already-present
TiO2), and nothing needs to be cleaned out. The reaction chamber does need to be replaced approximately once a year, however.
According to the Airocide company, the purifiers are almost 100 percent
effective at neutralizing biological pollutants like mold, fungi, pollen, dust mites, viruses and
bacteria, along with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are given off from materials such as carpeting and paint.
Source: Airocide <https://www.airocide.com/>
China's new premier vows to tackle pollution, offers few details
BEIJING, March 17, 2013 (Reuters): Chinese Premier Li Keqiang pledged on Sunday that
his government would "show even greater resolve" in tackling China's
festering pollution crisis, a source of increasing public fury.Li's remarks at his debut press
conference as premier were the highest-level public comments on the problem to date, though he gave few
specifics about how the government planned to address the environmental effects of rapid economic growth.
Street-level anger over the air pollution that blanketed many northern
cities this winter has spilled over into online appeals for Beijing to
clean water supplies as well. The rotting corpses of more than 12,000 pigs found this month in a river
that supplies tap water to Shanghai drew even more attention to water
safety. Li said he encouraged increased public participation in cleaning China's water, soil and air.
"This government will show even greater resolve and take more vigorous
efforts to clean up such pollution," Li said, referring to the winter smog.
Air quality in Beijing has mostly stayed above "very unhealthy" and "hazardous" levels since the beginning of this year. On Sunday, it hit
286 on an index maintained by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, which described the pollution as "very unhealthy".
Nationally, environmental complaints have sparked unrest and even riots,
to the alarm of the stability-obsessed ruling Communist Party. Beijing will set deadlines to tackle pollution caused by man-made
factors, Li said, adding that the government will phase out "backward
production facilities". "We need to face the situation and punish offenders with no mercy and
enforce the law with an iron fist," Li said.
"We shouldn't pursue economic growth at the expense of the environment.
Such growth won't satisfy the people," he added. Li also promised a crackdown on fake and substandard food, another
persistent problem which has caused widespread alarm, with scandals in
recent years including toxic milk powder, and painted stones sold as rice.The government will "take strong measures to punish the heartless producers of
substandard and fake food so they will pay a high price", Li said. Credit: Reuters
Scientists flight plan to measure UK air pollution
London, March 6, 2013: SCIENTISTS are taking to the skies to measure the amount of greenhouse
gas emitted in the UK. Edinburgh University researchers to lead manned aircraft mission to
measure air pollution levels. Four-ear -project will track greenhouse gases against 80 per cent
pollution cut target. A team led by University of Edinburgh will man a research aircraft
equipped with sensors to measure carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous
oxide levels.Samples will also be taken from sensors on a North Sea ferry and several
towers, including the BT Tower in London. The four-year project will track progress on UK Government targets to
cut pollution by 80 per cent by 2050. It will measure greenhouse gas
emissions from industry including from landfill and agriculture.
Tracking their movements is expected to help researchers improve their
understanding of how the gases change the climate. Results will be compared with observations from European, US and
Japanese satellites. Project leader Professor Paul Palmer, of University of Edinburgh’s
school of geosciences, said: “This will deliver robust greenhouse gas
emissions estimates from the UK and the world by bringing together
comprehensive data and talented scientists who can make sense of it.
This should help track progress towards tackling climate change.”
```The study is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and will
be carried out with the universities of Bristol, Cambridge, Leeds, Leicester and Manchester,
the `NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the Met Office and `the Science
and Technology Facilities Council’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. Source:
Scientists trace particulate air pollution to its source
California, February 26, 2013: Scientists at the University of California, Davis, have, for the first
time, developed a system that can determine which types of air particles
that pollute the atmosphere are the most prevalent and most toxic. Previous research has shown that air pollution containing fine and
ultrafine particles is associated with asthma, heart disease and premature death. This new study, released today by the California Air
Resources Board and the Electric Power Research Institute, marks the
first time that researchers have conducted source-oriented sampling of
these particles in the atmosphere. For example, the researchers found that particulate
emissions from vehicles, wood burning and residential cooking exhibited the most toxic
effects at the study site in Fresno, which has among the nation’s highest rates of adult and childhood asthma.
“Right now, air quality standards are based on the mass of particulate
matter and don’t distinguish between natural sources, like sea spray,
and known toxic sources, like diesel exhaust,” said Anthony Wexler, the
principal investigator and director of the Air Quality Research Center
at UC Davis. “This study will help regulators control only the sources
that are toxic, which saves money.” The scientists presented their research on Feb. 19 at a public
seminar hosted by the state air board, at the Cal/EPA Building in
Sacramento. In Fresno, ambient particle samples were collected in both summer and
winter to account for seasonal differences in the atmosphere. The researchers used a single particle mass spectrometer, co-developed
by Wexler, and 10 particle samplers to collect, analyze and separate ambient particles. Laboratory mice then inhaled particle samples from the separate sources.
Kent Pinkerton, a professor of pediatrics at the UC Davis School of Medicine, monitored their responses for signs of toxicity.
“This demonstrates that particles of different sources have different
degrees and kinds of toxicity,” said Pinkerton. “We need to use this
information to better understand the health effects of particulate
matter..” The study was funded by the California Air Resources Board and the
Electric Power Research Institute. Source: http://ucomm.ucdavis.edu/
Direct link between cardiac arrests and levels of air pollution
Boston, February 19, 2013: Researchers at Rice University in Houston have found a
direct correlation between out-of-hospital cardiac arrests and levels of air
pollution and ozone. Their work has prompted more CPR training in at-risk communities.
Rice statisticians Katherine Ensor and Loren Raun announced their findings today at the American Association for the Advancement of
Science (AAAS) conference in Boston. Their research, based on a massive
data set unique to Houston, is due to be published in the American Heart Association journal "Circulation".
At the same AAAS symposium, Rice environmental engineer Daniel Cohan
discussed how uncertainties in air-quality models might impact efforts
to achieve anticipated new ozone standards by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Given that the American Lung Association has ranked Houston eighth in
the United States for high-ozone days, the Rice researchers set out to
see if there is a link between ambient ozone levels and cardiac arrest For the new study, the authors analyzed eight years' worth of data drawn
from Houston's extensive network of air-quality monitors and more than
11,000 concurrent out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCA) logged by Houston Emergency Medical Services (EMS). They found a positive
correlation between OHCAs and exposure to both fine particulate matter
(airborne particles smaller than 2.5 micrograms) and ozone.
The researchers found that a daily average increase in particulate
matter of 6 micrograms per day over two days raised the risk of OHCA by
4.6 percent, with particular impact on those with pre-existing health conditions. Increases in ozone level
were similar, but on a shorter timescale: Each increase of 20 parts per
billion over one to three hours also increased OHCA risk, with a peak of
4.4 percent. Peak-time risks from both pollutants rose as high as 4.6
percent. Relative risks were higher for men, African-Americans and people over 65.
The researchers also looked at the effects of nitrogen dioxide, sulfur
dioxide and carbon monoxide levels, none of which were found to impact
the occurrence of OHCA. Posted in: Medical Condition News
Air pollution killing 620,000 Indians, says report
New Delhi, February 15, 2013: According to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010, air pollution is
now the fifth largest killer in India, after after high blood pressure,
indoor air pollution, tobacco smoking, and poor nutrition.Air pollution killing 620,000
Indians, says report. The India and South Asia-specific findings of the report were
officially released on Wednesday at a Dialogue Workshop jointly organised by Centre for Science
and Environment (CSE), Indian Council of Medical Research and the US- based Health Effects Institute.
Out of 180 cities monitored as part of the survey close to half of the
total urban population breathes air which exceeds the permissible limits
of PM10. The World Health Organisation’s guideline values for PM10
states the annual mean as being 20 micrograms per cubic metre (μg/m3)
and the 24-hour mean being 50 μg/m3. Particulate matter smaller than
PM2.5 must have an annual mean of 10 μg/m3 and a 24-hour mean of 25 μg/m3.
“This is a shocking and deeply disturbing news. This calls for urgent and aggressive action to protect public health,” said Sunita
Narain, director general, CSE, at the discussion. One third of urban Indians live in polluted areas which have critical
levels of PM10 – a number almost as much as Japan’s population of 127.8
million – with cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Ghaziabad, Patna, Varanasi, Allahabad, Jaipur, Navi Mumbai and Chandigarh falling under the
critically polluted areas, among others. Findings released by the scientists behind the study showed that annual
premature deaths caused by particulate air pollution have increased six
fold since 2000, with India seeing the greatest impact of outdoor air
pollution making up for one fifth of global deaths related to air pollution. Globally, air pollution-related deaths have increased by 300
The report says that about 620,000 premature deaths – up from 100,000 in
2000 – occur in India from air pollution-related diseases. The respiratory and cardiovascular diseases that make up for air
pollution-induced premature deaths include stroke (25.48%), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (17.32%), Ischemic heart disease (48.6%),
lower respiratory infections (6.4%), and trachea, bronchus and lung cancer (2.02%). GBD has ranked air pollution as one of the top 10
killers in the world, and the sixth most dangerous killer in South Asia.
The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) report is a world-wide initiative
involving the World Health Organization which tracks deaths and illnesses from all causes across the world every 10 years.The India-specific analysis has been done using estimates of air
pollution exposure at the national level and incidence of leading causes
of deaths, aided by ground-level measurements, satellite remote sensing
and models to capture population exposure. The GBD assessment fis a rigourous process which involving over 450 global experts and partner
institutions – including the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation,
the WHO, the Health Effects Institute, the University of Queensland,
Australia, Johns Hopkins University, and Harvard University. Source:
Experts call for steps to check environmental toxicity
CHANDIGARH, February 12, 2013: The most common cancer diagnosed among
Punjabis is of the oesphagus or the food pipe, followed by that of gall bladder, liver and
breast. Experts and environmentalists at the Panjab University on Sunday
deliberated on the use of pesticides and their link to cancer in the
light of an extensive survey of the government on high cancer incidence.
Punjab must initiate strict measures to decrease the use of pesticides
in agriculture, and also work towards minimizing environmental toxicity
in the state. This formed part of the recommendations of the "Dialogue
on Punjab State Cancer Survey" organized by the Environmental Health
Action Group of Kheti Virasat Mission. Pyara Lal Garg, executive director, Punjab Health Resource Centre, who
is the head of this survey, presented the salient features of the report. Eminent health management expert and surgeon S G Kabra from
Jaipur delivered a special lecture on cancer and its correlation with toxicity, particularly pesticides.
This is the first study conducted on this scale, and gives the government and
activists a platform to work more on the subject. They highlighted that
the positive aspects of the study cannot be ignored. Also, the state government must wake up to the menace of pesticides and
environmental toxicity, and take remedial measures on war footing.
Umendra Dutt of Kheti Virasat Mission said that pesticides, particularly those which are highly carcinogenic, are
known to severely impact the body and make it prone to fatal diseases.
He said that a number of epidemiological studies by PGI Chandigarh, coupled with the Cancer Registry report, have amply demonstrated the
high incidence of pesticide-related cancers in Punjab. The speakers took note of multi-tiered evidence namely laboratory
studies, animal studies, high exposure, high body burden and epidemiological studies establishing high incidence of pesticide related
cancers in Punjab. They expressed concern over the impact of environmental toxicity on the reproductive health of the population as
evidenced by the decreasing semen quality; increasing infertility; high rate of spontaneous abortions, still births, premature deliveries and
gross birth defects in infants. Source: The Times of India
Air Pollution Raises Risk of Low Birth Weight Babies
February 08, 2013: The largest study ever conducted on air pollution's impact on
newborn health has found that pregnant women exposed to black soot from urban
vehicles and coal-fired power plants are more likely to have low birth-weight babies.The study by an international group of researchers analyzed data on
three million births collected at 14 sites in nine countries in North
America, South America, Asia and Australia. It covered about 15 years beginning in the mid-1990s.
The massive survey found that at all these sites, pregnant women who
breathed the most polluted air - as measured by carbon soot concentrations - were significantly more likely to have babies with low
birth weights - below 2,500 grams or 5.5 pounds. At that size, a baby -if he or she survives infancy - is at risk of chronic health problems
and learning disabilities later in life. Particulate air pollution is determined by a combination of soot
particles' concentration in a cubic meter of air, and their size, measured in
microns. Tracey Woodruff, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California San Francisco, and a
co-principal investigator on the study, says this microscopic dust - smaller than the width of human hair - is in the air we all breathe.
Its impact on our health varies with the concentration and size of the
particulate matter. Woodruff says a relatively low concentration of 10-micron soot particles. . .
“...was associated with a 3 percent increase in the risk of having a low birth-weight baby," said Woodruff. "So the risk at the individual level
is modest, but we’re talking about many, many, many women around the world (being) exposed.”
The scientists got their data from centers participating in the International Collaboration on Air Pollution and Pregnancy Outcomes, a
global research initiative launched in 2007 to assess the impact of urban air pollution on pregnancy and newborn health.
An article on air pollution and low birth weight is published in the
journal "Environmental Health Perspectives." Source: VOA
Beijing government releases official air pollution app
Beijing, January 28, 2013: Although not as cute as Shanghai's perky lung-cancer
mascot, Beijingers now have access to a variety of smiley faces and colored
dials to check in on their city's PM2.5 content, courtesy of a new smart phone app
developed by the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center.
Although a variety of other apps already exist to check the city's air
quality (or "chunkiness"), this is the first from the official city government, and is likely hoping to
quell the growing discontent among Beijing residents directed at the government.
When "Airpocalypse" began, the Monitoring Center's hourly air ratings
did not include PM2.5, and therefore broadcast a significantly cheerier
report than the U.S. embassy's "Everyone should avoid all physical activity outdoors" updates.
Following Airpocalypse, however, the Monitoring Center has realized that fudging
figures doesn't get you very far if any resident with eyes and/or lungs can realize that
something is terribly, terribly wrong. So far the Monitoring Center's
stats match-up well with the US Embassy's tweets, and the new app seems
reliable, if a bit on the ugly side. Now that the Beijing government has
admitted that PM2.5 is a problem, perhaps they will "do something" about
city's air quality before it jumps off the charts again. Source: http://shanghaiist.com/mediakit/
Beijing chokes on lingering smog
Beijing, January 23, 2013 (IANS): The air quality in Beijing
Wednesday took a turn for the worse again, as smog blanketed the city.
At 9 a.m., air quality indices in most monitoring stations in the city
exceeded 300, or Level VI, a serious level, according to statistics from
the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center, reported Xinhua.
Beijing chokes on lingering smog. A high concentration of fine particle pollutants was spotted moving from
southeast Beijing from 3 p.m. Tuesday before shrouding the entire city, said an official with the center.
The PM2.5 data, a gauge monitoring airborne particles of 2.5 microns or
less in diameter which can embed deep in people's lungs, reached 200 to
300 micrograms per cubic meter, indicating heavy pollution, he said.The weather forecasting bureau has issued yellow alerts for both fog and
smog, the third highest level. Visibility in south Beijing will fall below 500 meters Wednesday, and
most of the city will see visibility drop to less than 3,000 meters.
According to the weather forecast, strong winds with speeds of 20 to 30
km per hour will sweep the city Wednesday evening and are expected to disperse the smog.
Beijing residents suffered from heavy smog from Jan 10 to 16, before the
putrid air was dispersed by a cold front bringing strong winds. Air quality indices were off the charts during the seven days, exceeding the
"maximum" level of 500 in the city, as well as many other cities in central and north China.
7 Chinese cities listed in '10 most air polluted cities in the world‘
Beijing, January 16, 2013: The Asian Development Bank and Tsinghua University
recently released the ''National Environmental Analysis'', which reported that
among the world's ten most air polluted cities, 7 are in China: Taiyuan, Beijing, Urumqi, Lanzhou, Chongqing, Jinan and Shijiazhuang. The report
also points out that only 1% of China's 500 cities have met the air quality standard recommended by the World Health
Organisation. Severe smog has blanketed China, with Beijing hitting an unusually high
air pollution index for 5 consecutive days. Visibility remains less than 2000
metres. There is a sharp rise in the frequency of car accidents, and cases of respiratory
illness. The big hospitals in Beijing, Jinan, Shijiazhuang and Nanning
are all packed with patients. When interviewed by the Economic Information Daily, experts
commented, ''Environmental challenges faced by China are arguably more complicated than any other
country's''. They also advised that in order to improve China's air quality, it is important for authorities to take measures in urban
planning and structures of industry and power sources. Source: shanghaiist.com
Air pollution in Beijing reaches hazardous levels
BEIJING, January 13, 2013 (AP): Air pollution levels in China’s notoriously dirty capital
were at dangerous levels Saturday, with cloudy skies blocking out visibility and warnings issued for people to remain indoors.
Local authorities warned that the severe pollution was likely to continue until Tuesday.
The Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center has reported air-quality indexes between 176 and 442 from its monitors throughout the
greater Beijing area since Friday. The index indicates the level of airborne PM 2.5 particulates, which are tiny particular matters
considered the most harmful to health. The air is considered good when the index is at 50 or below, but
hazardous with an index between 301 and 500, when people are warned to avoid outdoor physical activities.
Monitors in Beijing reported air quality indexes above 300 on Friday,
and the center’s real-time reports showed Beijing remained heavily polluted Saturday, with the indexes at or approaching 500 at 5 p.m. from
some monitoring stations. A warning scrolled across the monitoring center’s website on Saturday
said that the density of PM2.5 had reached 700 micrograms per cubic meter in many parts of Beijing and that the polluted air was expected to
linger for the next three days. Monitors at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing recorded an off-the-chart
air-quality reading of 728 as of 4 p.m. Saturday and said the PM2.5 density had reached 845 micrograms per cubic meter. According to rules issued by the city government in December, all
outdoor sports activities are to stop and factories have to reduce their
production capacity if Beijing’s official air-quality index exceeds 500.In Beijing, authorities have blamed foggy
conditions and a lack of wind for the high concentration of air pollutants.
Several other cities, including Tianjin on the coast east of Beijing and
southern China’s Wuhan city, also reported severe pollution over the last several days.
Internet emits 830 million tonnes of carbon dioxide
MELBOURNE, January 7, 2013: Internet and other components of information
communication and technology (ICT) industry annually produces more than 830 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main
greenhouse gas, and is expected to double by 2020, a new study has found.
Researchers from the Centre for Energy-Efficient Telecommunications (CEET) and Bell
Labs explain that the information communications and technology (ICT)
industry, which delivers Internet, video, voice and other cloud services, produces about 2 per cent of global CO2 emissions
-- the same proportion as the aviation industry produces.
In the report published in journal Environmental Science & Technology,
researchers said their projections suggest that ICT sector's share in
greenhouse gas emission is expected to double by 2020. They have also found new models of emissions and energy consumption that
could help reduce their carbon footprint.
The study said that controlling those emissions requires more accurate
but still feasible models, which take into account the data traffic,
energy use and CO2 production in networks and other elements of the ICT industry .Existing assessment models are inaccurate, so they set out to develop
new approaches that better account for variations in equipment and other factors in the ICT industry.
They describe development and testing of two new models that better
estimate the energy consumption and CO2 emissions of Internet and telecommunications services.The researchers suggest, based on their models, that more efficient power usage of facilities, more efficient use of energy-efficient
equipment and renewable energy sources are three keys to reducing ICT emissions of CO2. Source: The Economic Times
New monitoring standards in China to fight pollution
Beijing, January 05, 2013: China on Tuesday started to issue daily reports on air
quality in 74 major Chinese cities by adopting more extensive monitoring standards,
including the level of PM 2.5 -- the smallest and most dangerous pollution particles.
Five other pollutants, including ozone and carbon monoxide, were also
placed under the new monitoring standard issued in February by the Ministry of Environmental
Protection. The previous standard only covered PM 10 -- particulate matter up to 10
micrometers in size, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide.
The data, released on the website of the China National Environmental
Monitoring Center, are updated every hour. People can also check the information for these
pollutants monitored in the past 24 hours at various monitoring stations in the 74 cities.
PM 2.5 are considered more dangerous than larger particles, as they can
penetrate deeper into the lungs. High levels of PM 2.5 caused an estimated 8,572 premature deaths in
Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xi'an in 2012, according to a report by
Greenpeace and Peking University's School of Public Health in December.
Some of the cities had already been releasing readings for PM 2.5. For
example, Shanghai began to release figures for the concentration of PM 2.5 collected from 10 monitoring stations in June, while 35 monitoring
stations in Beijing started to release the data in October. Public attention focused on PM 2.5 in October 2011, when Beijing was
shrouded in thick smog. The US embassy in China's capital rated the air quality standard as
"hazardous", while Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau
said it was slight pollution. It was later found the discrepancy resulted from two different air
pollution monitoring standards adopted by the two countries, Xinhua News
Agency reported, as China did not include PM 2.5 in the standard. In May, the ministry told the 74 cities to apply a more comprehensive
air quality monitoring standard and publish daily reports of PM 2.5. Cities in major industrial areas, such as the Beijing- Tianjin-
Hebei region, the Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta regions, as well
as all provincial capitals, were ordered to monitor PM 2.5 from October and publish readings before the end of 2012.
Beijing's air quality has improved for 14 consecutive years, with major
pollutants falling in the city, Fang Li, spokesman for the municipal environmental protection bureau, told a news conference at the end of
last year. The annual average concentration of major pollutants, including nitrogen
dioxide and PM 10, fell by 4 percent in 2012, compared to the previous year, he said. Source: China Daily
The 4STAR a next-generation assessment of tiny airborne particle
January 01, 2013: Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, in
collaboration with colleagues at NASA Ames Research Center, developed a
next- generation assessment of tiny airborne particle-understanding capability, the Spectrometer for Sky-Scanning, Sun-Tracking Atmospheric
Research, or 4STAR.
Their new model demonstrates the potential for the new airborne instrument to obtain the most important
climate-related properties of tiny particles suspended in the atmosphere. Aerosols, tiny airborne particles of dust and pollution,
affect the atmosphere and the surface of the earth by scattering and absorbing light. Scattering of the sun's light happens when direct light
is reflected off the particles and redistributed, or scattered. The absorption of sunlight heats up the
atmosphere while at the same time reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the earth.
The combined effects of scattering and absorption can either cool or warm the earth's surface
and the atmosphere itself. Improved estimation of these properties from the ground, space, and air allows scientists the flexibility to measure
these particles over oceans and in areas previously unstudied. "After eight years of research to build 4STAR, this is really good
news," said PNNL atmospheric scientist and lead researcher Dr. Evgueni Kassianov. "One piece of the puzzle is complete-getting better
predictions of our climate."
The 4STAR was deployed on board the PNNL-operated G-1 aircraft, part of
the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Research Aircraft Facility, with a suite of instruments taking in situ measurements of atmospheric gases,
aerosols, and clouds. The unique capabilities of the 4STAR provide a real-time airborne spectra of direct and scattered sunlight, making the
4STAR one of the "jewels in the crown" of DOE's aircraft instruments.
The instrument looks like a bowling ball sitting atop the PNNL G-1 aircraft. With the optical collector trained on the sun and sky light,
the rest of the instrument is below in the aircraft cabin, collecting
and sending data through fiber optic cable to on board light-measuring instruments.
Future steps will involve model studies focused on identifying potential
limitations and capitalizing on the advantages of the 4STAR-based aerosol measurements. Similar model studies are being performed for
different observational conditions, types of aerosols, and sampling strategies.
Provided by - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory <http://phys.org/partners/pacific-northwest-national-laboratory/>