Another Use of SmartPhones to Monitor Traffic-Related Air Pollution (TRAP)

Measuring fine dust concentration via smartphone (ScienceDaily, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, May 23, 2014)
Also discussed here: Enabling low-cost particulate matter measurement for participatory sensing scenarios (Abstract, Matthias Budde, Rayan El Masri, Till Riedel ,Michael Beigl, Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Mobile and Ubiquitous Multimedia, Dec. 2, 2013)

And here:

(2 min You-Tube, KIT Karlsruher Institut für Technologie, May 21, 2014)

Today we review PhD research from Germany that describes how a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS)dust sensor can be attached to a smart phone, making use of its camera to measure the scattering of light and estimate the concentration of particulate matter (PM10) with an accuracy of one microgram per cubic meter. Readings may then be transmitted via cell phone to a central point where a number of other phone measurements can be mapped in near real-time and add to the more sophisticated (and expensive) observations from the few government air quality stations.

smart phone dust sensor

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What is the Risk of a Stroke from Long Term Exposure to Particulate Matter ?

Fine Particulate Air Pollution and the Progression of Carotid Intima-Medial Thickness: A Prospective Cohort Study from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and Air Pollution (9 page pdf, Sara D. Adar, Lianne Sheppard, Sverre Vedal, Joseph F. Polak, Paul D. Sampson, Ana V. Diez Roux, Matthew Budoff, David R. Jacobs, Jr., R. Graham Barr, Karol Watson, Joel D. Kaufman, PLOS Medecine, Apr. 23, 2013)

Also discussed here: Air Pollution as a Heart Threat (Deborah Blum, New York Times Poison Pen blog, Nov. 15, 20)

And here: Evolution of Air Pollution Monitoring in Ottawa (Natty Urquizo, 60 slides PowerPoint, Upwind-Downwind Conference, Hamilton, Feb. 23, 2012)

Today we review research into the health impact of long term (10 years) exposure to particulate matter and how this affects the thickening of arterial walls [intima-medial thickness]and heart disease through  atherosclerosis. Results indicate that an increase of PM 2.5 mg/m3 is associated with a 2%  relative increase in strokes and is evident at the neighbourhood level. This is significant because it expands the impact of PM from the known impact of short term exposure to long term. It also suggests that neighbourhoods located near higher levels of PM (such as proximity to vehicle emissions from traffic) would have higher mortality. Studies (such as from the City of  Ottawa) show that many urban areas have more than 50% of vulnerable populations living within 50 m of busy roads and are at and strokesproximity to roads ottawa

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Is There a Need for Standards for Brief Peaks of Air Pollutants?

Peak event analysis: a novel empirical method for the evaluation of elevated particulate events(12 page pdf, Aaron Orkin, Pamela Leece, Thomas Piggott, Paul Burt, Ray Copes, Environmental Health, Nov. 1, 2013)

Today we review research into the occurrence of brief peaks of suspended particles (or dust), how often they occur (in a rural area of southern Ontario) and if the results point to a need for standards for periods of less than an hour- the shortest time period currently used in Canada and many other countries. The resulting analysis showed that peak values of PM10  twenty to one hundred times greater than values averaged over an hour which were within the current standards. Although the aim of the research was to examine single events with high associated levels of pollution, one cannot help but wonder what the health impacts would be for people exposed to repeated doses of high pollution for shorter periods than are covered by existing standards, such as proximity to roadside emissions at rush hour each day. If there is a definable health impact, that would both call for standards for shorter periods- say 10 minutes or one minute- and might explain the degree of mortality associated with traffic (which has been estimated as about 1/3 of all deaths from outdoor air pollution in a study conducted by the City of Toronto Medical Officer of Health).

short period AQ

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Is there a Low-Cost Monitor to Measure Roadside Urban Emissions in Real-Time?

A Novel Method for Reliable Long-term Assessment of Exposure to Traffic-related Air Pollution Mixtures(Abstract, Natalia Mykhaylova, Kelly Sabaliauskas, Jon M Wang, Ezzat Jaroudi, Cheol-Heon Jeong, Jeff Brook, Greg J. Evans, American Association for Aerosol Research 32nd Annual Conference, Sep. 30-Oct.4, 2013)

Also discussed here: The Geography of Pollution – A PhD candidate’s low-cost sensors could be deployed across cities to gather highly local air-quality data (John Lorinc, UofT Magazine, Autumn 2013)

And here: Is Air Quality Affecting Your Health? – A U of T prof is looking at the relationship between traffic emissions, health and how close people live to major roads(John Lorinc, UofT Magazine, Jan. 11, 2013)

And here: Illness Costs of Air Pollution- Phase II:Estimating Health and Economic Damages(221 page pdf, submitted to Ontario Medical Association by DSS Management Consultants Inc, Jul. 26, 2000)

And here: The expanding scope of air pollution monitoring can facilitate sustainable development(Abstract, Knox A, Mykhaylova N, Evans GJ, Lee CJ, Karney B, Brook JR., Sci Total Environ. Mar. 15, 2013)

Today we look at a low-cost air quality monitor, developed at the University of Toronto, with the aim “to encourage local governments to deploy commercial versions of these low-cost devices in large numbers around urban areas as a way of generating a much more nuanced and up-to-the-minute picture of the invisible geography of pollution”. This is part of a larger research project aimed at assessing the health risks of roadside air pollution in Canada’s largest city where more than 2,000 people die prematurely each year according to the Illness Costs of Air Pollution (ICAP) model developed by the Ontario Medical Association and widely recognized by established authorities (such as the Auditor General of Canada and the Commissioner for the Environment  for Ontario). The sensors provide a required precision of 5 to 15 ppb for O3 and NO2, 20 microgm/m3 for PM 2.5 and the entire cost of the unit is expected to be under $300.


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The Risk of Underweight Babies Born to Mothers Exposed to Particulate Matter and Traffic

Ambient air pollution and low birthweight: a European cohort study (ESCAPE) (1 page pdf, Abstract, Dr Marie Pedersen, Lise Giorgis-Allemand, Claire Bernard, Inmaculada Aguilera, Prof Anne-Marie Nybo Andersen,  Prof Ferran Ballester, Rob M J Beelen, Leda Chatzi, Marta Cirach, Asta Danileviciute, Audrius Dedele, Manon van Eijsden, Marisa Estarlich, Ana Fernández-Somoano, Mariana F Fernández, Prof Francesco Forastiere, Ulrike Gehring, Prof Regina Grazuleviciene, Olena Gruzieva, Barbara Heude, Gerard Hoek, Kees de Hoogh, Edith H van den Hooven, Siri E Håberg, Vincent W V Jaddoe, Claudia Klümper, Michal Korek, Ursula Krämer, Aitana Lerchundi, Johanna Lepeule, Prof Per Nafstad, Wenche Nystad, Evridiki Patelarou, Daniela Porta, Prof Dirkje Postma, Ole Raaschou-Nielsen, Peter Rudnai, Prof Jordi Sunyer, Prof Euripides Stephanou, Mette Sørensen, Elisabeth Thiering, Prof Derek Tuffnell, Mihály J Varró, Tanja G M Vrijkotte, Alet Wijga, Michael Wilhelm, John Wright, Prof Mark J Nieuwenhuijsen, Prof Göran Pershagen, Prof Bert Brunekreefi, Prof Manolis Kogevinas, Rémy Slama,  The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, Oct. 15, 2013)

Also discussed here: Urban air pollution increases low birth weight risk (Ilaria Bertini, Blue & Green Tomorrow, Oct. 15, 2013)

Today we review research into the link between exposure of pregnant women in 12 European countries over 7 years to particulate matter and the impact on their babies. The conclusions were that for every increase of 5 μg/m3, the risk of low birth weight increase by 18%.  A similar conclusion was reached for women living near roads with heavy traffic where if action is taken to reduce this exposure, 22% of low birth weights could be avoided.

low birth weight

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How Many Particulates Can Trees Remove from the Air?

Modeled PM2.5 removal by trees in ten U.S. cities and associated health effects(Abstract, David J. Nowaka, Satoshi Hirabayashib, Allison Bodineb, Robert Hoehna, Environmental Pollution, July 2013)

Also discussed here: Urban Trees Remove Fine Particulate Air Pollution, Save Lives(Science Daily, Jun. 19, 2013)

Today we review research into the amount of fine particulate matter [PM 2.5] removed from the air by urban trees and what this means in terms of economic benefit from human health cost savings. Results from 10 US cities indicate that trees improved air quality by 0.05 to0.24% which appears small but when applied to a city as large as New York translates into 7.6 premature deaths avoided or delayed and over $60 M saved.

Centre ville d'Atlanta, Géorgie, Etats-Unis

Centre ville d’Atlanta, Géorgie, Etats-Unis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Health Risks for Highway Workers

Freeway to the  Lenny Zakim Bridge

Freeway to the Lenny Zakim Bridge (Photo credit: OhDuranDuran)

Exposure of Highway Maintenance Workers to Fine Particulate Matter and Noise ( Abstract, Reto Meier, Wayne E. Cascio, Brigitta Danuser and Michael Riediker, Annals of Occupational Hygiene, Mar. 15, 2013)<

Also discussed here: Strimmers are worse than motorway traffic  (Medical XPress, May 30, 32013)

Today we review an article that looks at the health risks of highway workers exposed to both vehicle emissions from proximity of traffic and the noise and emissions of particles from their equipment- such as from chain saws and jack hammers. Results indicate levels eight times higher than those faced by the average population. More generally, one could suppose that residences close to ongoing highway maintenance in a city environment would also be impacted.

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Recent Research Linking Heart and Lung Disease to Air Pollution

Long-term air pollution exposure and cardio- respiratory mortality: a review(32 page pdf, Gerard Hoek, Ranjini M Krishnan, Rob Beelen, Annette Peters, Bart Ostro, Bert Brunekreef, Joel D Kaufman, Environmental Health, May 28, 2013)

Today we summarize a literature review that assessed evidence for the link between air pollution and deaths from lung or heart disease, in light of developments over the last decade in terms of the knowledge  gained and the greater geographical data set including, specifically, China and Japan. Also the traditional and to some extent successful response to vehicle emissions over the last few decades was to reduce tailpipe emissions, leading this review to look more closely at non tailpipe emissions such as brake lining wear and emissions or particulates from the oil crankcase and tires. Results indicate that for every increase of 10 μg/m3 increase in PM2.5 exposure, there is an additional health risk of 6%.

Exhaust gases from vehicles form a significant...

Exhaust gases from vehicles form a significant portion of air pollution which is harmful to human health and the environment (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Is There a Need to Change International Air Pollution Standards?

Review of evidence on health aspects of air pollution (REVIHAAP)(33 page pdf, World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, May 8, 2013)

Today we review an experts’ report that identified 22 key questions that need to be answered with respect to revisions of current World Health Organization and EU standards for the three major air pollutants: PM, O3 and NO2, following a review of new evidence on the impacts of these pollutants on human health. The recommendations point to the need for shorter term limit standards for PM 2.5, evidence of new impacts of O3 on brain development, and the need to look beyond NO2 for roadside emissions.

English: Preindustrial and contemporary PM2.5 ...

English: Preindustrial and contemporary PM2.5 emissions. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Measuring Health Rate Variability near Traffic

English: Oxidative stress process Italiano: Pr...

English: Oxidative stress process Italiano: Processo dello stress ossidativo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PM2.5, oxidant defence and cardiorespiratory health: a review(15 page pdf, Scott A Weichenthal,Krystal Godri-Pollitt, Paul J Villeneuve, Environmental Health, May 4, 2013)

Today we review research aimed at seeing if there is a significant link between oxidative stress and the cardiovascular health impacts, arising from exposure to high levels of PM2.5- and if so, the value of oxidative burden as a metric. Results indicate there is an inverse relationship between heart rate variability (HRV) and PM2.5 which may be useful when assessing health threats from proximity to vehicle emissions in heavy traffic.

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How the Six Cities Paper was a Game Changer for Clean Air – a Lesson for Addressing Climate Change?

Prevailing winds – A decades-long fight to bring clean air standards in line with environmental health science offers lessons for today.(Harvard School of Public Health News, Fall 2012)

Also discussed here: An Association between Air Pollution and Mortality in Six U.S. Cities(7 page pdf, Douglas W. Dockery, C. Arden Pope, Xiping Xu, John D. Spengler, James H. Ware, Martha E. Fay, Benjamin G. Ferris, Jr., and Frank E. Speizer, The New England Journal of Medecine, Dec. 9, 1993)

And here: Harvard Six Cities Study Follow Up: Reducing Soot Particles Is Associated with Longer Lives(Harvard School of Public Health Press Release, Mar. 16, 2006)

Today we recall a paper published 20 years ago that caused a major shift in national public policy for regulating cleaner air and lowering emissions of fine particulate matter. Until it was published (in 1993), the link between mortality and air quality had not been established. After it was published, based on the survival rates in six cities over 14-16 years, new PM 2.5 standards were introduced that “would prevent 15,000 premature deaths annually”.

What is particularly interesting and relevant today to the “debate” about climate change is the need to present scientific data in a clear unambiguous manner (as it was in the six cities case) to avoid the delays introduced deniers looking for insignificant errors in raw data (which has been the situation for the last decade with the climate change issue). The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) should pay attention!

six cities graph

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Particulate Pollution Near Traffic and Hardening of the Arteries

Fine Particulate Air Pollution and the Progression of Carotid Intima-Medial Thickness: A Prospective Cohort Study from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and Air Pollution(9 page pdf, Sara D. Adar mail,   Lianne Sheppard,  Sverre Vedal,   Joseph F. Polak,   Paul D. Sampson,   Ana V. Diez Roux,   Matthew Budoff,   David R. Jacobs Jr,   R. Graham Barr,  Karol Watson,   Joel D. Kaufman, PLoS Med, Apr. 23, 2013)

Also discussed here: Air Pollution and Hardening of Arteries(Science Daily, Apr. 23, 2013)

Today we review a paper that looks at the impact of PM2.5 levels in several cities across the USA on heart disease. Higher concentrations of PM often found during exposure to vehicle emissions near heavy traffic were found to have a significant link to atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries and give rise to a 2% greater risk of a heart attack for those who live in these areas.arteries

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Is “Clean Coal” an Oxymoron when it comes to Health Impacts from Coal Power Generation?

The Unpaid Health Bill – how coal power plants make us sick(46 page pdf, Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL),  March 2013)

Also discussed here: Air pollution: Europe’s avoidable health risk(1 page pdf, Lancet, Mar. 16, 2013)

Today we review a report that calls for an end to coal powered plants in the EU by 2040, although the same reasons for doing so apply elsewhere, particularly in the United States, because of the impact of coal power emissions not only on human health, but also on the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from carbon sources as soon as possible to mitigate climate change. Over 18,000 premature deaths/year in the EU can be linked to coal emissions which make up 20% of the GHG emissions for Europe. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology, touted as the vanguard of “clean coal”, is found to have even more emissions of NO2 with lower SO2.

coal health

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Exposure to Air Pollution after a Heart Attack

Long-term exposure to air pollution is associated with survival following acute coronary syndrome(6 page pdf, Cathryn Tonne and Paul Wilkinson, European Heart Journal, Jan. 19, 2013)

Also discussed here: Exposure to Air Pollution Is Associated With Increased Deaths After Heart Attacks(Science Daily, Feb. 20, 2013)

Today we review an extensive investigation of the impact of exposure to varying levels of PM 2.5 on the survival rate of patients who have had a heart attack. Results indicate that exposure for as little as a year to a 10mg/m3 increase was linked to a 20% higher death rate and the reverse was also true. Even more important to survival rates than air pollution were a number of socio-economic  factors such as smoking and income levels.

Serious air pollution

Serious air pollution (Photo credit: Andrew.T@NN)

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Health Impacts of Nanoparticles (NPs)

Nanoparticles in the environment: assessment using the causal diagram approach(11 page pdf, Suchi Smita, Shailendra K Gupta, Alena Bartonova, Maria Dusinska, Arno C Gutleb, Qamar Rahman, Environmental Health, Jun. 28, 2012)

Today we review research into the impacts of naturally occuring (NNPs)and man-made nanoparticles (ENPs)which range from impacts on high level noctiluent clouds (and from this climate warming) to impacts on vegetation and human health. Their very small size (less than 100 nm) poses a potentially greater threat than the particulate matter that has been studied in depth because of their greater reactivity potential and a number of diverse health impacts have been identified ranging from heart and lung diseases to impacts on vital organs, including the brain, via NPs in the bloodstream.

Microsoft PowerPoint - RAHMAN_Fig8.ppt [Compatibility Mode]

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How Do Tobacco Smoke and Air Pollution Affect Asthma in Young Children?

Wreaths of tobacco smoke.

Wreaths of tobacco smoke. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Air pollution, fetal and infant tobacco smoke exposure, and wheezing in preschool children: a population-based prospective birth cohort(23 page pdf, Agnes MM Sonnenschein-van der Voort ,Yvonne de Kluizenaar, Vincent WV Jaddoe, Carmelo Gabriele Hein Raat, Henriëtte A Moll, Albert Hofman, Frank H Pierik, Henk ME Miedema, Johan C de Jongste, Liesbeth Duijts, Environmental Health, Dec. 11, 2012)

The key conclusion drawn by the study under review today is that early exposure to tobacco smoke makes the lungs of children more vulnerable to air pollution. Also short term exposure to air pollutants alone could affect development of respiratory while long term exposure has greater impact when combined with tobacco smoke

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How Does Air Pollution Affect Your Thinking Ability?

Bad Air Means Bad News for Seniors’ Brainpower(1 page pdf, Press Release, The Gerontological Society of America, (GSA) 65th AnnualScientific Meeting, Nov. 16, 2012)

Also discussed here: Bad Air Means Bad News for Seniors’ Brainpower(ScienceDaily, Nov. 16, 2012)

And here: Does Air Pollution Hurt Memory of Older Adults?(WebMD, Nov. 16, 2012)

And here: Air pollution in towns and cities ‘ages brains of over-50s by three years’(MailOnline, Nov. 16, 2012)

And here: Exposure to particulate air pollution and cognitive decline in older women(Abstract, Weuve J, Puett RC, Schwartz J, Yanosky JD, Laden F, Grodstein F. , Arch Intern Med, Feb. 13, 2012)

urban air pollution

Today’s feature review article takes a new look at the impact of air pollution on how well people over 50 think after analyzing tests assessing word recall, knowledge, language, and orientation. The results indicate that an increase of 10 micrograms/cubic meter of fine particulate matter (roughly the difference between living in a typical built-up cities to living in rural areas) translates into an additional aging of 3 years.  This comes in addition to the other well documented effects of air pollution on health which shorten life expectancy (by 7-8 months in the UK for example). This prompts one to consider if the rise in dementia and Alzheimer’s might also be associated this in urban areas, along with the large increase in the population of seniors in many countries.

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Roadside Air Quality as a Priority Research Issue

Why are we concerned with near-road air quality?(11  page pdf, Rich Baldauf, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Apr. 27, 2010)

Also discussed here: Freeways Don’t Need to be a Housing Show-Stopper(The Greater Marin, Aug. 13, 2012)

Today we highlight a summary of the issues and research priorities and recent findings in the scientific literature for air pollution near major roads from the perspective of the Environmental Protection Agency in the USA. Among other points, the use of vegetation along roads to contain the pollution is seen as a promising approach for the future.

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Can Plants Reduce Urban Pollution?

Effectiveness of Green Infrastructure for Improvement of Air Quality in Urban Street Canyons (Abstract, Thomas A. M. Pugh, A. Robert MacKenzie, J. Duncan Whyatt, and C. Nicholas Hewitt, Environ. Sci. Technol., Jun. 4, 2012)

Also discussed here: Green Plants Reduce City Street Pollution Up to Eight Times More Than Previously Believed (ScienceDaily, Jul. 18, 2012)

The question whether trees  reduce or add to urban pollution is frequently debated with the answer seeming to be that in a highly polluted atmosphere, some coniferous trees add aromatic gases to the mix. Today we review an interesting article that suggests that foliage (not trees) will absorb pollution through  their plant surface which is more effective than the hard surfaces that make up street canyons – with reductions of 40-60% in terms of the concentrations of NO2 and PM.

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Monitoring Pollution below the Clouds from Space

Improving aerosol distributions below clouds by assimilating satellite-retrieved cloud droplet number (Abstract, Pablo E. Saide, Gregory R. Carmichael, Scott N. Spak, Patrick Minnis, and J. Kirk Ayers, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA (PNAS), Jul. 9, 2012)

Also discussed here: Researchers Develop Technique to Help Pollution Forecasters See Past Clouds (ScienceDaily, Jul. 10, 2012)

Today we review research aimed at deducing how much particulate pollution exists below clouds, as observed by satellites which normally have their air quality sensors blocked by the opaqueness of the clouds. The technique is based on comparing the number of droplets observed in a region which does not have particulates with one that does and then accounting for the difference. If applied and found successful, this would overcome one of the main difficulties in monitoring particulates near the ground from space.

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Soot’s Impact on Lungs

Experimental determination of deposition of diesel exhaust particles in the human respiratory tract(Abstract, Jenny Rissler, Erik Swietlicki, Agneta Bengtsson, Christoffer Boman, Joakim Pagels, Thomas Sandström, Anders Blomberg, Jakob Löndahl, Journal of Aerosol Science, June 2012)

Also discussed here: Half of Inhaled Soot Particles from Diesel Exhaust, Fires Gets Stuck in the Lungs (ScienceDaily. Jun. 27, 2012)

According to the research reviewed today, soot particles from diesel engines present a greater  heath hazard because there more small particles from this source are absorbed into the lungs,  compared to emissions from wood stoves and coal-driven power stations.  In addition, soot particles impact on climate change and reduction must accompany action to reduce greenhouse gases.

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Collecting and Distributing Air Quality Data in Europe in Near Real-Time

Map of the Member States of the European Union

Map of the Member States of the European Union (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reporting and exchanging air quality information using e-Reporting (62 page pdf,  European Environment Agency,  EEA Technical report No 5/2012)

Also discussed here: EIONET – the Ambient Air Quality Portal

And here: EIONET- Reporting Obligations Database (ROD)

Today we review a report concerned with the more timely reporting, processing and distribution of air quality data in Europe via an E-Reporting system to come online on January 1, 2014. It makes a number of recommendations concerning data formats, standardized procedures and making the data more easily absorbed into air quality models. What is most interesting to this observer who comes from a country with the same challenges involved in different (provincial) jurisdictions where similar agreements and coordination is needed to ensure timely delivery of air quality information and warnings.

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Diesel Exhaust and Lung Cancer

The Diesel Exhaust in Miners Study: A Nested Case–Control Study of Lung Cancer and Diesel Exhaust (18 page pdf, Debra T. Silverman, Claudine M. Samanic, Jay H. Lubin, Aaron E. Blair, Patricia A. Stewart, Roel Vermeulen, Joseph B. Coble, Nathaniel Rothman, Patricia L. Schleiff, William D. Travis, Regina G. Ziegler, Sholom Wacholder and Michael D. Attfield,  Journal of the National Cancer Institute,  Mar.5, 2012)

Also discussed here: IARC: Diesel Engine Exhaust Carcinogenic (4 page pdf, World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Jun. 12, 2012)

And here: Diesel exhaust found to cause lung cancer (Carly Weeks , Globe and Mail, Jun. 12, 2012)

And here: Diesel fumes cause cancer (The Connexion, June 13, 2012)

And here: WHO: exhaust fumes more cancer causing than secondhand smoke ( Yukio Strachan, Digital Journal, Jun. 13, 2012)

Today we review a report from the WHO stating that there is “sufficient evidence” to link diesel exhaust directly to lung cancer and “limited evidence” to a link with bladder cancer which is stronger than earlier statements on health risk. The report goes on to recommend worldwide measures to reduce or eliminate exposure to diesel exhaust as a priority.

Main sites of metastases for some common cance...

Main sites of metastases for some common cancer types. Primary cancers are denoted by “…cancer” and their main metastasis sites are denoted by “…metastases”. List of included entries and references is found on main image page in Commons: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Nanoparticles and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Citrullination of proteins: a common post-translational modification pathway induced by different nanoparticles in vitro and in vivo (15 page pdf, Bashir M Mohamed, Navin K Verma, Anthony M Davies, Aoife McGowan, Kieran Crosbie Staunton, Adriele Prina-Mello, Dermot Kelleher, Catherine H Botting, Corey P Causey, Paul R Thompson, Ger JM Pruijn, Elena R Kisin, Alexey V Tkach, Anna A Shvedova  & Yuri Volkov, Nanomedicine,  May 25, 2012)

Also discussed here: Nanoparticles in Polluted Air, Smoke & Nanotechnology Products Have Serious Impact On Health (ScienceDaily, Jun. 11, 2012)

Nanoparticles found in smoke, dust and in diesel  vehicle exhaust are known to have significant health impacts. Today we review research using animals that links the breakdown of the autoimmune system by nanoparticles which in turn may lead to rheumatoid arthritis .

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Childhood Asthma and Ambient Air Pollution

Satellite-based Estimates of Ambient Air Pollution and Global Variations in Childhood Asthma Prevalence (32 page pdf, H Ross Anderson, Barbara K. Butland, Aaron van Donkelaar, Michael Brauer, David P. Strachan, Tadd Clayton, Rita van Dingenen, Markus Amann, Bert Brunekreef, Aaron Cohen, Frank Dentener, Christopher Lai, Lok N. Lamsal, Randall V. Martin, ISAAC Phase One and Phase Three study groups, Environ Health Perspect , May 1, 2012)

Today we review research aimed at testing the hypothesis that variations in asthma world-wide can be explained by variations in long term ambient pollution at the community level (O3, PM2.5 and NO2) which was in turn estimated using satellite-derived estimates. Although short term variations appear to be linked, the results indicate no such link over the long term.

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Harvard Six Cities Study Update on Mortality from Exposure to Fine Particles

Chronic Exposure to Fine Particles and Mortality: An Extended Follow-Up of the Harvard Six Cities Study from 1974 to 2009 (31 page pdf, Johanna Lepeule, Francine Laden, Douglas Dockery, Joel Schwartz, Environ Health Perspect,  Mar. 28, 2012)

The research article of interest today is an update of the famous 1993 Six Cities Study (in the USA) that established links between long term exposure to fine PM and mortality. The newer research continued to showed a significant relationship between PM 2.5 and both lung and cardiovacular mortality, without any lower safe threshold and points to the public health benefits of further reductions in PM 2.5 levels.

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Characteristics and Components of Particulate Matter

Characterization of Fine Particulate Matter and Associations between Particulate Chemical Constituents and Mortality in Seoul, Korea (34 page pdf, Ji-Young Son, Jong-Tae Lee, Ki-Hyun Kim, Kweon Jung, Michelle L. Bell, Environ Health Perspect ,  Mar.22, 2012)

Today we review some leading edge research into the make-up of particulate pollution from the aspect of what associated chemicals are found with PM 2.5 and how do they affect their impact on human health. Results indicate higher concentrations of PM 2.5 in winter than summer when rain cleans the atmosphere and higher in late morning and evening because of vehicle emissions. Magnesium (Mg) was found to increase mortality rates at least in South Korea where the data were gathered.

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Slight Decreases in Air Quality and Higher Risk of Strokes

Ambient Air Pollution and the Risk of Acute Ischemic Stroke (Abstract, Gregory A. Wellenius, Mary R. Burger, Brent A. Coull, Joel Schwartz, Helen H. Suh, ScD; Petros Koutrakis, Gottfried Schlaug, Diane R. Gold, Murray A. Mittleman,  Arch Intern Med., Feb. 13, 2012)

Also discussed here: Even Moderate Air Pollution Can Raise Stroke Risks (Science Daily,Feb. 13, 2012)

Also here: Air pollution may increase stroke, heart attack risk (Anne Harding, CNN Health, Feb. 15, 2012)

Today, we review research that looked at the increased risk of short term exposure to slightly higher levels of air pollution (i.e. “moderate” compared to “good”), measured at hourly intervals. Results indicated that the onset of stroke occurs within 12-14 hours and that the most hazardous type of pollution (NO2 and PM2.5)comes from vehicles and traffic.

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Canadian Health Impacts to Long-Term Exposure to Fine Particulate Matter

Risk of Non-accidental and Cardiovascular Mortality in Relation to Long-term Exposure to Low Concentrations of Fine Particulate Matter: A Canadian National-level Cohort Study (29 page pdf, Dan L. Crouse, Paul A. Peters, Aaron van Donkelaar,Mark S. Goldberg, Paul J.Villeneuve, Orly Brion, Saeeda Khan, Dominic Odwa Atari, Michael Jerrett, C. Arden Pope III, Michael Brauer, Jeffrey R. Brook, Randall V. Martin, David Stieb, Richard T. Burnett, Environ Health Perspect, Feb.7,  2012)

Today, we review a study that assesses the mortality health risk for native born Canadians from long term exposure to fine particulate matter which is higher in the Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto-Windsor corridor than elsewhere in the country. The authors concluded that there is a 31% increased risk of ischemic heart disease with an increase of 10 μg/m3 increase in PM2.5, a higher increase in health risk than previously estimated (12-14%).

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Monitoring Air Pollution in Beijing, China

Beijing to put clean-air plan into action (He Dan, China Daily, Jan. 13, 2012)

Also discussed  here: Beijing releases key air pollution data (USA Today, Jan. 21, 2012)

And here: Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center (in Chinese)

And here: Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center (in English)

Today, the focus is on efforts by the municipal government in Beijing to both monitor and reduce local pollution sources, among which vehicle emissions are a major contributor like many other urban areas.  Beijing is a large city both in terms of population (19,612,368 in 2010) and area (16,801 km2) so that the 24 monitors to monitor PM10 and PM2.5 in future are about the same ratio one sees in Canada and the USA.  Even this is far from the monitor density needed to adequately estimate roadside emissions as, for example,  in the UK where  over 200 local authorities have declared over 500 Air Quality Management  Areas(AQMA).  Also noteworthy is the pledge to make public hourly air pollution in real time- another  indication of the seriousness taken of air pollution by governmental officials.

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, click HERE

Hamilton’s Air Pollution Hot Spots

Mobile Air Quality Monitoring to Determine Local Impacts  (39 page pdf, Denis Corr, Rotek Environmental Inc. July 2011)

Also discussed here: Unique study maps neighbourhood air pollution  (Hamilton Spectator, Jan. 20, 2012)

And here: A Public Health Assessment of Mortality and Hospital Admissions Attributable to Air Pollution in Hamilton  (3 page pdf, School of Geography and Geology and McMaster Institute of Environment and Health, 2011)

From the city of Hamilton, a leader among Canadian cities in the assessment of urban health, comes a report on a local neighbourhood air quality monitoring study. Results indicate almost 12% increased mortality risk as an average across the city for all pollutants, with the highest increased risk (+18%) near the 6 lane highway (403) that bisects the city. The breakdown of risk by pollutant may also be used to identify and reduce pollution sources.

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, click HERE

Reducing Emissions from Wood Burning Stoves

Wood-burning stoves – harmful or safe? (Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Jan. 16, 2012)

Also discussed here: Wood-Burning Stoves: Harmful or Safe? (Science Daily, Jan. 16, 2012)

And here: Guidebook Effective and environmentally friendly firing of firewood  ( 8 page pdf, Edvard Karlsvik, SINTEF Energy Research, Norway and Heikki Oravainen, VTT, Finland, EU-project Quality Wood,  )

As we reach the depth of winter’s cold in northern climates, today’s focus is on some timely research from Norway that examines the combustion conditions of wood burning stoves that affect emissions and the resulting health impacts.  Recommendations include using dry (not wet) wood and modern stoves that ensure complete combustion.

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The Better Air Quality at Beijing Olympics- government controls or lucky weather conditions?


Beijing 2008 

Emission controls versus meteorological conditions in determining aerosol concentrations in Beijing during the 2008 Olympic Games (15 page pdf, Y. Gao, X. Liu, C. Zhao, and M. Zhang, Atmos. Chem. Phys.,  Dec. 28, 2011)


Also discussed here: Weather Deserves Medal for Clean Air During 2008 Olympics (Science Daily, Dec. 28, 2011)


And here: Impact of Changes in Transportation and Commuting Behaviors During the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta on Air Quality and Childhood Asthma (9 page pdf,  Michael S. Friedman, Kenneth E. Powell, Lori Hutwagner, LeRoy M. Graham,W. Gerald Teague, Journal American Medical Association,  Feb. 21, 2001)


Credit for the surprisingly good air quality at the 2008 Beijing Olympics has been given to the Chinese government for various steps taken to reduce pollution sources, especially vehicle emissions, during and before the games- as they had been, with equally good health results, at the Atlanta, USA Games in 1996. A more detailed analysis of the added effect of meteorology, summarized in the article under review, shows that favourable winds and well-timed rainfall had at least as much to do with the  results. The lesson to be learned from this, especially for those cities with unhealthy air, with or without Olympic fever, is that major reductions in pollution and improvements in health are possible with enough government will to engage public support.


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Health Impact of Exposure to Particulate Matter in Beijing, China

Effects of Particulate Air Pollution on Blood Pressure in a Highly Exposed Population in Beijing, China: A repeated-measure study (32 page pdf, Andrea Baccarelli, Francesco Barretta, Chang Dou, Xiao Zhang, John P McCracken, Anaite Diaz, Pier Alberto Bertazzi, Joel Schwartz, Sheng Wang, Lifang Hou, Environmental Health, Dec. 21, 2011)

Today’s review article looks at the link between traffic-related particulate matter on the blood pressure of truck drivers, using both personal and ambient measurements. The ambient levels are as much as an order of magnitude greater in Beijing than in average American cities. Results indicate that the greatest impact in blood pressure occurs about a week after exposure rather than in one or a few days for those examined, noting that they already have higher than average blood  pressure levels due to diet, obesity and exercise (or lack)- perhaps indicating that PM pollution has its greatest impact on those already suffering from high blood pressure.

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Health Impacts from Road Dust and Coarse Particulates

Deutsch: Spikes (Reifen), selbst erstellt 100/...

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Estimated Short-Term Effects of Coarse Particles on Daily Mortality in Stockholm, Sweden (27 page pdf, Kadri Meister, Christer Johansson, Bertil Forsberg, Environ Health Perspect, Dec. 19. 2011)

The focus today is on the short term health impacts from coarser particles that come from traffic and roads other than through emissions- an aspect not as well studied as the impacts from fine particles. For a number of reasons, both these types of particle and the health impacts from them  are highest in the winter and spring.

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, click HERE

Estimating Health Impacts on Major Streets Using Oxidative Potential of Particulates

Contrasts in Oxidative Potential and Other PM Characteristics Collected Near Major Streets and Background Locations (32 page pdf, Hanna Boogaard, Nicole A.H. Janssen, Paul H. Fischer, Gerard P.A. Kos, Ernie P. Weijers, Flemming R. Cassee, Saskia C. van der Zee, Jeroen J. de Hartog, Bert Brunekreef, Gerard Hoek, Environ Health Perspect, Oct. 20, 2011)

Today’s review article looks at how particulates near heavy traffic on major streets generates hydroxyl radicals and how this in turn may be a better measure of health impacts than simply monitoring PM 2.5 or PM 10. The results indicate the oxidative potential near heavy traffic was 4 to 6 times greater than in suburban locations.

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, click HERE

Particulate Hot-Spot Analyses

Transportation Conformity Guidance for Quantitative Hot-spot Analyses in PM2.5 and PM10 Nonattainment and Maintenance Areas (143 page pdf, Transportation and Regional Programs Division, Office of Transportation and Air Quality, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Dec. 2010)

Today’s focus is on a guide to analyse PM hotspots in order to assess non-compliance with federal air quality standards for emissions from roads and highways in the USA.

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, click HERE

Scrubbing the Air with Trees- London’s BRIDGE Program

Estimating the removal of atmospheric particulate pollution by the urban tree canopy of London, under current and future environments (Abstract, Matthew Tallis,  Gail Taylor, Danielle Sinnett, Peter Freer-Smith, Landscape and Urban Planning, Sep. 1, 2011)

From London comes research on the capability of trees in an urban setting to remove PM10 from the air through accumulation of it on their leaves or needles. The article under review also presents a method to estimate how future implications of climate change on air pollution may be mitigated using urban tree growth. Previous research on the link between trees and pollution suggested that some trees when exposed to heavy pollution, particularly near heavy traffic, add volatile organic chemicals to the pollution.

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Cities of World Ranked by Exposure to Particulates

Database: outdoor air pollution in cities (World Health Organization – Public Health and Environment)

The focus today is on a list of cities in the world with the most and least pollution. Not surprisingly, those with the least pollution are small cities located some distance from industry in western Canada and USA and in southeast Australia, while the most polluted are in developing industrialized countries in Asia and Central America. The measure used for this comparison is particulate matter which comes from a number of sources in industry and from (diesel) vehicle emissions. IMHO, a better measure in cities afflicted with traffic air pollution might be nitrogen and carbon oxides (NO2 and CO2).

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, click HERE

Which Sources of Fine Particulates Have the Most Health Impacts?

Diesel smoke from a big truck.

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The Effects of Particulate Matter Sources on Daily Mortality: A Case-Crossover Study of Barcelona, Spain (28 page pdf, Bart Ostro, Aurelio Tobias, Xavier Querol, Andrés Alastuey, Fulvio Amato, Jorge Pey, Noemí Pérez, Jordi Sunyer, Environ Health Perspect, Aug. 16, 2011)

The focus today is on the results of an investigation into eight sources of particulate matter as they impact human health and which ones have the greatest impact. As pointed out, previous research on this topic have been challenged on the second question because the sources tend to be cross-correlated on effect and hard to isolate. Despite this, the article points to sulphur particulates from traffic diesel fuel and minerals from brake wear and road dust as the main culprits.

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Traffic Air and Sound Pollution Impacts on Blood Pressure and Hypertension

Long-Term Urban Particulate Air Pollution, Traffic Noise and Arterial Blood Pressure (30 page pdf, Kateryna Fuks, Susanne Moebus, Sabine Hertel, Anja Viehmann, Michael Nonnemacher, Nico Dragano, Stefan Möhlenkamp, Hermann Jakobs, Christoph Kessler, Raimund Erbel, Barbara Hoffmann, |Environmental Health Perspectives, Aug. 9, 2011)

The focus today is on research into the impacts of long term exposure to emissions and noise from heavy traffic (greater than 22,000 vehicles/day) on blood pressure. The results point to a link  even when the increase in PM concentration is small, because even a small increase over the long term has large impacts in population health terms.

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What is the Better Indicator of Health Impacts from Particles- Black Carbon or PM?

Carbon black

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Black carbon as an Additional Indicator of the Adverse Health Effects of Airborne Particles Compared to PM10 and PM2.5 (44 page pdf, Nicole AH Janssen, Gerard Hoek, Milena Simic-Lawson, Paul Fischer, Leendert van Bree, Harry ten Brink, Menno Keuken, Richard W Atkinson, H Ross Anderson, Bert Brunekreef, Flemming R Cassee, Environmental Health Perspectives, Aug. 2, 2011)

Particulate Matter (PM) has long been used as a basis for indicating health impacts from vehicle emissions. In the report reviewed today, another indicator, Black Carbon (BCP), was found to have a greater sensitivity to proximity to roads and on mortality and is being recommended as an additional pollutant standard.

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Diesel Exhaust Particulates and Heart Disease

Diesel smoke from a big truck.

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Combustion-derived nanoparticulate induces the adverse vascular effects of diesel exhaust inhalation (12 page pdf, Nicholas L. Mills, Mark R. Miller, Andrew J. Lucking, Jon Beveridge, Laura Flint, A. John F. Boere, Paul H. Fokkens, Nicholas A. Boon, Thomas Sandstrom, Anders Blomberg, Rodger Duffin, Ken Donaldson, PatrickW.F. Hadoke, Flemming R. Cassee, and David E. Newby. European Heart Journal Advance Access, Jul. 13, 2011)

Today’s review article explores the various gaseous and particulate components of exhaust from diesel motors in terms of vascular response and test various filters used to reduce health impacts.

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Comparing the Health Risks of Smoking and Air Pollution

This is an x-ray image of a chest. Both sides ...

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Lung Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality Associated with Ambient Air Pollution and Cigarette Smoke: Shape of the Exposure-Response Relationships (31 page pdf, Pope CA III, Burnett RT, Turner MC, Cohen AJ, Krewski D, Jerrett M, et al, Environ Health Perspect, Jul. 19, 2011)
Today’s review article looks at how the health response of exposure to tobacco smoke and particulate matter compare in terms of the intensity and duration. The main finding is that projections or extrapolations of fatality risk from exposure to low levels can be underestimated while risks from higher levels may be overestimated, thus pointing to the need to monitor and develop public health policies for relatively low levels of ambient air pollution.

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports, click HERE

Traffic Air Pollution and Health Impacts in Urban Italy

Urban air pollution and emergency room admissions for respiratory symptoms: a case–crossover study in Palermo, Italy (39 page pdf, Fabio Tramuto, Rosanna Cusimano, Giuseppe Cerame, Marcello Vultaggio, Giuseppe Calamusa , Carmelo M Maida and Francesco Vitale, Environmental Health 2011, 10:31, Apr.13, 2011)


Today’s review article takes us to Palermo, Italy which happens to have a good data base of 10 air pollution monitoring stations and the characteristic (seen only in a few large cities with little local industry, such as Ottawa in Canada) of pollution coming mainly from traffic- although it was acknowledged that some SO2 comes from vessels in its port. The conclusions point to high correlations between poor respiratory health and high levels of air pollution, particularly PM10.

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, visit the new internet platform for Pollution Free Cities by clicking  HERE

Triggering of Inflammation Response by Fine Particulate Matter


Image by AJC1 via Flickr

Dysfunction via NADPH Oxidase and TLR4 Pathways – Chronic Fine Particulate Matter Exposure Induces Systemic Vascular (29 page pdf, Qinghua Sun, Henning Morawietz and Sanjay Rajagopalan, Nitin P. Padture, Sampath Parthasarathy, Lung Chi Chen, Susan Moffatt-Bruce, Deiuliis, Xiaohua Xu, Nisharahmed Kherada, Robert D. Brook, Kongara M. Reddy, Thomas Kampfrath, Andrei Maiseyeu, Zhekang Ying, Zubair Shah, Jeffrey A., Circulation Research, Jan. 27, 2011)


Today’s review article discusses the way that fine particulate matter interacts with white blood cells (in mice) to cause widespread inflammation which in turn has impacts on the lungs and circulation.

To see Key Quotes and Links about this post, visit the new internet platform for Pollution Free Cities by clicking HERE

Impacts of Nano Particulates from Urban Traffic on the Brain

PET scan of a human brain with Alzheimer's disease

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Glutamatergic Neurons in Rodent Models Respond to Nanoscale Particulate Urban Air Pollutants In Vivo and In Vitro (31 page pdf, Todd E Morgan, David A Davis, Nahoko Iwata, Jeremy A Tanner, David Snyder, Zhi Ning, Winnie Kam, Yu-Tien Hsu, Jeremy W Winkler, Jiu-Chiuan Chen, Nicos A Petasis, Michel Baudry, Constantinos Sioutas, Caleb E Finch, Environmental Health Perspectives, Apr. 7, 2011)


Although today’s review article is highly technical and the result of experiments conducted on mice, the implications for the impact of nano-sized vehicle emissions on human brain development is clear. “The evident neurotoxicity of nPM suggests links between urban air pollution and brain health across the lifespan”. Two areas need further study: definition for nano particles within the Ultra Fine Particle (UFP) category of air quality standards and the accumulation of nPM in the brain over time.

To see Key Quotes and Links to relevant reports on this post, go to the new internet platform for Pollution Free Cities by clicking HERE

Proximity to Traffic Air Pollution and Birth Outcomes

Increased traffic exposure and negative birth outcomes: a prospective cohort in Australia (24 page pdf, Adrian G Barnett, Kathryn Plonka, W. Kim Seow, Lee-Ann Wilson and Craig Hansen, Environmental Health, Apr. 1, 2011)


Today’s focus is on a paper that assessed the impact of the proximity of pregnant women to traffic with the birth weight of their children. The paper concluded a clear association up to 400 m from busy roads and speculated that one cause might be the impact of particulate matter on the growing fetus.

To see Key Quotes and Links to relevant reports, visit the new internet platform for Pollution Free Cities by clicking HERE

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Measuring Ultrafine Particle Emissions

Diesel smoke from a big truck.

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Challenges and Approaches for Developing Ultrafine Particle Emission Inventories for Motor Vehicle and Bus Fleets (21 page pdf, Diane U. Keogh and Darrell Sonntag, Atmosphere 2011, 2(2), 36-56, Mar. 24, 2011)


The research reviewed today looks at the factors that need to be considered when developing a system to collect and archive ultrafine particle data, taking into account both the characteristics of their emission and the potential health risks they pose for human health. Only one such inventory exists in the world – in Brisbane, Australia. As no air quality regulations exist for these particles and many cities depend on diesel buses for public transit, the requirement seems clear in order to begin to define and address this health threat.

To view Key Quotes and Links to relevant reports, go to the new internet platform for Pollution Free Cities by clicking HERE

Hockey, Indoor Rinks and Health Risks

Hidden Dangers at Indoor Ice Rinks (NBC 7 minute video)


Today’s review post comes thanks to the blog on “Effects of Air Pollution on Health” which highlighted the health risks faced by skaters in indoor rinks from fuel-powered resurfacing machines- known in Canada as Zambonis-  which emit CO2 and PM (as opposed to electric powered). The video is startling in showing how long dangerously high pollution levels persist in unventilated rinks.

To see Key Quotes and Links about this post, visit the new internet platform for Pollution Free Cities by clicking HERE


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