What are the Health Impacts for People Living Near Biodegradable Waste Sites?

Respiratory and sensory irritation symptoms among residents exposed to low-to-moderate air pollution from biodegradable wastes (Abstract, Victoria Blanes-Vidal, Jesper Bælum, Joel Schwartz, Per Løfstrøm and Lars P Christensen, Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, Aug. 21, 2014)
Also discussed here: Respiratory, Sensory and General Health Symptoms among Populations Exposed to Air Pollution from Biodegradable Wastes (1 page pdf, Victoria Blanes-Vidal, Jesper Bælum, Joel Schwartz, Esmaeil S. Nadimi, Per Løfstrøm, Lars P. Christensen, Poster Paper, International Society for Environmental Epidemiology, Aug. 21, 2014)

Today we review research from Denmark which examined the direct and indirect impacts for people in residences near biodegradable waste sites. Results indicate increased frequency of respiratory and sensory irritation symptoms directly related to dose and exposure.

bio waste

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What is E-Waste and What Health Risks does it Bring?

E-Waste: Health Impacts in Developing Countries (EHS Journal, Jul. 19, 2014)

Today we review a paper that describes the size and health threat of the annual disposal of 40M tones of e-waste, nearly 50% of which comes from EU and USA/Canada, with most of the disposal and processing taking place in Asian countries such as India, China and Pakistan. E-waste is considered more dangerous than most other municipal waste because of the harmful metals that when incinerated produce high health risk dioxins and furans. Government and public health regulations are called for in the manufacturing and recycling of electronic devices, as well as in the safe handling of the waste management.

ewaste

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When Do you Become “Old”?

Population ageing: the timebomb that isn’t? (5 page pdf, Jeroen Spijker and John MacInnes, BMJ(British Medical Journal), Nov. 12, 2013)

Today we review a paper about aging and the implications of using a fixed age, such as 65, to indicate when to worry about “old age” diseases, particularly those such as heart and lung diseases that are aggravated by air pollution. The authors contend that the important statistic to use is the years of remaining life expectancy when the average life expectancy in the UK has increased by 34 years, thus moving the yard stick from the pension age of 65 to later. Over time improvements in medical technology and, indirectly in air quality in some places, seniors are living longer which has increased the size of the older generation, while growing obesity has resulted in earlier occurrence of diabetes with negative impacts on life expectancy. It is clear that the dynamics that affect health of the elderly has changed.

old age dependency

 

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Reporting Local Industrial Air Pollution in Canada’s Largest City

Tracking and Reducing Chemicals in Toronto: Third Annual ChemTRAC Report (David McKeown, Medical Officer of Health, Toronto Board of Health, Jun. 13, 2014)

Also discussed here : ChemTRAC – Improving Toronto’s Air: 2014 Annual Report (David McKeown, Medical Officer of Health, Toronto Board of Health, Jun. 13, 2014)

And here: Toronto Public Health Reveals Local Air Pollution Sources (Jennifer Kalnins Temple, Envirolaw, Jul. 10, 2014)

Today we review the third annual report from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health on the monitoring of local industrial air pollutants, a program (ChemTRAC) that requires local industries to emissions of 25 specific pollutants- the top three of which are VOCs, NOx and PM2.5. The Health Board estimates that of the 1300 deaths caused by air pollution each year, local industry is responsible for 120, in addition to 200 hospitalizations. This not only underlines the importance of the program but also allows for identification of sources of health risks not previously defined- the mercury releases from incineration of human remains at crematoria for example- and allows companies to take measure to reduce the release of critical pollutants. A large majority (90%) of the reporting companies found the ChemTRAC program helpful and 2/3s found that the program helped them to reduce harmful emissions The only question one might ask- why is this not required in other cities, especially large ones with industrial pollution within their boundaries?

map of toronto air poll sources

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What is the Next Biggest Environmental Health Problem After Air Pollution?

Lessening the Severe Health Effects of Traffic Noise in Cities by Emission Reductions (28 page pdf, Tor Kihlman, Wolfgang Kropp, and William Lang, The CAETS Noise Control Technology Committee and the International Institute of Noise Control Engineering, May 2014)

Also discussed here: Traffic noise is dangerous for your health: Solutions exist for dense cities (ScienceDaily, Jul.1, 2014)

Today we review a report that looks at the second biggest environmental cause of health problems after air pollution, noise. As with air pollution, the single biggest source is road traffic from the interaction between tires and pavement or “rolling noise”. Solutions call for “quiet pavements” and improved design of tires although the authors report that present regulations and that most actions by government and industry fall well short of solving the problem. An interesting point was made about safety concerns about electric cars being too quiet to the point that government wants to require noise emitters – a step that is seen as unnecessary and counterproductive. Again, as with air pollution, an effective solution is to reduce roads traffic by promoting quiet forms of transportation, such as walking and cycling. Steps to reduce road noise would also benefit efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and climate change impacts.

noise in cities

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How Liable Are Cities Potentially for Not Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions by Allowing Traffic and Vehicle Emissions to Increase?

Current environmental liability issues for municipalities (20 page Word doc, Graham Rempe, Dianne Saxe, Osgoode Professional Development, Jun.17, 2014)

Also discussed here:

Current environmental liability issues for municipalities (Meredith James, Envirolaw, Jun. 26, 2014)

And here: Air pollution controls linked to lower death rates in North Carolina (Science Daily, Jun. 23, 2014)

Today we review an interesting discussion paper that analyzes legal cases where failure to act or incorrect actions by municipalities resulted in contamination of the soil or groundwater with legal consequences for the municipalities involved. The accountability was particularly true when the health of humans or animals was threatened. One has to ask why municipalities do not have an obligation to manage traffic and vehicle emissions when these clearly are a major cause, if not the largest cause in some cases, of hastened climate change impacts or of pollution levels which have a direct impact on the health of their citizens. Especially when several far-sighted cities such as London UK, Stockholm and Singapore have demonstrated that application of congestion pricing and other measures within their mandates (as it is in Ontario) reduces traffic and improves air quality. Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act stipulates that “The only precondition is a reasonable belief that the ordered activities will prevent or reduce contamination of the natural environment”.

What are cities waiting for- a law suit?

English: A schematic of the global air polluti...

English: A schematic of the global air pollution. The map was made by User:KVDP using the GIMP. It was based on the global air pollution map by the ESA (see http://www.esa.int/esaEO/SEM340NKPZD_index_0.html , http://esamultimedia.esa.int/images/EarthObservation/pollution_global_hires.jpg ) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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What are the Health Benefits of Closing Down a Freeway?

Air quality impacts of a scheduled 36-h closure of a major highway (Abstract, David C. Quiros, Qunfang Zhang, Wonsik Choi, Meilu He, Suzanne E. Paulson, Arthur M. Winer, Rui Wang, Yifang Zhua, Atmospheric Environment, Mar. 2013)

Also discussed here: Air Quality Results of a Freeway Closure (5 page pdf, Arthur Winer, Yifang Zhu, and Suzanne Paulson, ACCESS, Jun. 2014)
Today we review the quantitative improvement in air quality that results from temporary closure of a heavily used freeway in southern California. Before and after measurements of air pollutants indicate as much as a 83% reduction during the period it was closed. The authors strongly recommend that steps be taken to reduce roadside pollution from freeways in future by limiting the use of single occupancy vehicles and to convert electrically powered vehicles. Almost make one wonder who came up with the idea of freeways to start with and, more to the point, why run these “pollution sewers” through urban centres where people have to breathe the resulting pollution! Vancouver is the only major city in North America that I can think of that does NOT have a freeway running through its centre- they must have clever urban planners there!

freeway closing

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