What is the Risk of a Stroke after a One Day Exposure to Air Pollution?

Short term exposure to air pollution and stroke: systematic review and meta-analysis (10 page pdf, Anoop S V Shah, Kuan Ken Lee, David A McAllister, Amanda Hunter, Harish Nair, William Whiteley, Jeremy P Langrish, David E Newby, Nicholas L Mills, British Medical Journal, Feb. 5, 2015)

Today we look at a literature review into the risk of strokes, the second most common cause of death, from a short term exposure to air pollution. Results indicate that one or two day exposure to air pollution, particularly PM2.5 and NO2, have a clear association with strokes or mortality from stroke. Many studies of health impacts from air pollution come from research in developed countries although the worst air pollution tends to occur in developing countries which as a consequence suffer the greatest health impacts, as demonstrated in this study.

aq and strokes

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Reduce Carbon Gas Emissions using Diesel Vehicles or Eliminate Particulates – a choice between Mitigating Climate Change or Health Impacts

Beyond a One-Time Scandal: Europe’s Ongoing Diesel Pollution Problem (4 page pdf, Charles W. Schmidt, Environ Health Perspect, Jan. 2, 2016)
Today we review a recent assessment of the role of diesel vehicles in causing PM2.5 and NO2 and greater mortality as a result while also being the technology of choice, particularly in Europe with over 50% of vehicles with it, to reduce C02 emissions and mitigate climate change. The comparison with the US and Canada is striking where less than 3% of vehicles are diesel and CO2 emissions have soared from gasoline powered vehicles and less attention to emission reduction than in the EU. Clearly an optimum choice or balance needs to be made that looks at both the immediate health impacts of diesel and the equally important need to reduce carbon emissions.

diesel pm eu

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Where is the Worst Traffic Congestion in Canada?

How Bad is the Traffic Where You Live? (Zack Gallinger and Arik Motskin, The 10 and 3, Dec. 10, 2015)

Also discussed here: Which Canadian city has the worst traffic? (Alexandra Pope, Canadiana Geographic, Dec. 10, 2015)
And here: Vancouver has the worst traffic in Canada, new congestion study claims (Jake Edmiston, National Post, Mar. 31, 2015)

And here: TomTom Traffic Index – Measuring congestion worldwide (TomTom, 2016)

Today we review new data showing which city has the worst traffic. By one measure, TomTom’s 2014 traffic index show Vancouver with 35% as the worst, followed by Toronto (31%), Ottawa (28%) and Montreal during the day but this changes during the evening rush hour to Toronto and Vancouver tied at 66% followed by Ottawa at 63%. Another measure, the average stretch multiplier, the ratio between free flowing and congested traffic, shows Toronto as the clear winner/loser with 2.8 with Calgary and Ottawa gaining rapidly as equally sprawled and growing large cities.


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What are the Health Impacts of Low Concentrations of PM2.5?

Low-Concentration PM2.5 and Mortality: Estimating Acute and Chronic Effects in a Population-Based Study (7 page pdf, Liuhua Shi, Antonella Zanobetti, Itai Kloog, Brent A. Coull, Petros Koutrakis, Steven J. Melly, and Joel D. Schwart, Environmental Health Perspectives, Jan. 1, 2016)

Today we review research into the mortality impact, resulting from exposures to low concentrations of PM2.5 on both the short and long term, among a large population cohort in New England over the age of 65. The question is whether concentrations below EPA standards (12 μg/m3 of annual average PM2.5, 35 μg/m3 daily) still present a risk of death. Results indicate that low concentrations present a risk that varies according to the sources and composition of the particles with may include secondary aerosols. A major conclusion with public health policy implications was that improving air quality even at low levels of PM2.5 can yield health benefits.

low levels pm

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Why Do We Need to Monitor Water Vapour Globally?

The need for accurate long-term measurements of water vapor in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere with global coverage (20 page pdf, Rolf Muller, Anne Kunz, Dale F. Hurst, Christian Rolf, Martina Kramer, and
Martin Riese1, Earth’s Future, Dec. 30, 20015)

Today we review a journal article calling for the establishment of a global network of upper air balloons to measure water vapour in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere. Although water vapour is the most important greenhouse gas it unlike CO2 has a lifetime of only a week or so because of the evaporation/condensation hydrological cycle, compared to a century for CO2 to accumulate in the atmosphere. Despite this water vapour acts as a positive feedback when the air has a higher humidity leading to more convective precipitation as a result of the warming of the earth’s surface.

The global measurement of water vapour on a routine and operational basis lags the networks established earlier for CO2 and Ozone. Ideally, a dedicated upper air balloon network is recommended, augmented by satellite sensors with 2 km resolution to estimate Atmospheric water vapour. Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) Reference Upper-Air Network (GRUAN) is such a network made up of 30-40 sites. Following through on this ask will be important when estimating future climate impacts resulting from warming due to carbon emissions.

water vapour

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Is Geoengineering A Practical Way of Combating Global Warming?

Blocking the Sun Is No Plan B for Global Warming (David Biello, Scientific American , Dec. 9, 2016)

Today we review an assessment of attempting to reduce global warming by directly reducing incoming sunlight for the entire globe by artificial means, known as geoengineering. In view of the failure of many countries to take action to mitigate climate change, the challenge to reduce carbon emissions has gone to the point where many feel that taking direct action through geoengineering is the only solution. The author warns though that doing this may produce inadvertent disasterous results as well as giving relief to the very modest efforts currently being made to reduce CO2 emissions.


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Can Nuclear Power Meet the Challenges of Global CO2 Mitigation?

Potential for Worldwide Displacement of Fossil-Fuel Electricity by Nuclear Energy in Three Decades Based on Extrapolation of Regional Deployment Data (10 page pdf, Staffan A. Qvist, Barry W. Brook, PLoS One(Public Library of Science) , May 13, 2015)
Also discussed here: The World Really Could Go Nuclear Nothing but fear and capital stand in the way of a nuclear-powered future (David Biello, Scientific American, Sep. 14, 2015

Today we review an article that concludes that all carbon fuelled power plants worldwide can be replaced in a little over 30 years with modern nuclear power plants. All that is required is public acceptance, government will and investment in the technology, making use of the experience gained over the last 50 years, as demonstrated prominently by France and more recently by Sweden. The most vocal arguments from the lay pubic against nuclear power focus on the high costs but these are expected to drop significantly as Type 4 reactors are brought onstream which can recycle spent nuclear fuel and uranium and use this as a resource. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expects nuclear power to expand worldwide by 2030 as more reactors are built in Asia and the Middle East.

nuclear option

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