What are the Health Benefits of Congestion Pricing?

Congestion Pricing, Air Pollution, and Urban Health (11 page pdf, Emilia Simeonova, Janet Currie, Peter Nilsson and Reed Walker, American Economics Association Meeting, Chicago, Jan. 2017)

Also discussed here: Driving Fee Rolls Back Asthma Attacks in Stockholm (Nala Rogers, Inside Science. Feb. 2, 2017)

Today we review research on the impact of the introduction of congestion pricing in Stockholm, in 2006, and the reduction of traffic that followed on the health of children in that city. Pollution levels in that city are lower than EPA’s standards. Results indicate that the pricing system caused a drop in traffic volumes by 25%, reductions in NO2 and particulate (PM10) pollution of 5 and 10% and a reduction in asthma cases by 12% in the first  seven months which increased to 45% over the longer term (several years). While the benefits in other cities with fewer diesel vehicles (emitting PM) may not be as great, it is clear that there are benefits even when the air quality in a given city (such as Ottawa) is considered “good” and that there are negative health impacts that begin at lower thresholds than EPA standards project.

stockholm-congestion-health

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Does Exposure to Traffic-Related Pollution Affect Dementia in Older Women?

Particulate air pollutants, APOE alleles and their contributions to cognitive impairment in older women and to amyloidogenesis in experimental models (8 page pdf, M Cacciottolo, X Wang, I Driscoll, N Woodward, A Saffari, J Reyes, M L Serre, W Vizuete, C Sioutas, T E Morgan, M Gatz, H C Chui, S A Shumaker, S M Resnick, M A Espeland, C E Finch and J C Chen, Translational Psychiatry, Jan. 31, 2017)
Also discussed here: Air pollution may cause 21 percent of dementias worldwide, study suggests (The San Diego Union-Tribune, Feb. 1, 2017)

And here: Early Onset Familial AD (Gabrielle Strobel, ALZFORUM)

Today we review research based on longer term exposure by female mice to PM 2.5 and how this could affect older women exposed to traffic-related air pollution in their risks of having dementia. Results indicate that women in the late 60s and 70s are 92% more likely to develop dementia if they live in areas that exceed EPA’s standards for PM2.5. The increase in the elderly and the greater risk of dementia has resulted in an overall increase in this disease, despite the improvements in levels of PM 2.5 over the last decade or two, as well as in the increase of deaths from Alzheimer’s, the sixth leading cause of death nationwide.

dementia-alzheimers

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How is the Brain Damaged by Exposure to Traffic Related Air Pollution?

The Polluted Brain – Evidence Builds that Dirty Air Causes Alzheimer’s, Dementia (AAAS Science, Emily UnderwoodJan. 26, 2017)

Also discussed here: Particulate Air Pollutants and White Matter Brain Aging (Abstract, Jiu-Chiuan Chen, Xinhui Wang, Mark A. Espeland, Helena Chui, Alzheimer’s and Dementia, Jul. 2014)
And here: Traffic-related air pollution and brain development (21 page pdf, Nicholas Woodward, Caleb E. Finch and Todd E. Morgan , AIMS Environmental Science. May 6, 2015)

Today we review a series of research articles that reaffirm the health risks presented to people (and mice) who breathe in air polluted by vehicles and containing ultra-fine particles, in particular. Signs of memory loss and Alzheimer’s are evident in mice exposed to UFP. Levels of fine air particles within 50 m of  major roadways are 10 times higher than at 150 m and those within 50 m stand a 12% higher risk of developing dementia. Tests involving prenatal mice showed that fetal damage can be done by fine particles without entering the placenta. The closer people live to major roadways, the smaller their celebral brain volume. What more do city planners and public health officials need to know about running highways and traffic through cities?

brain-pollution

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Impact of Nanoparticulates from Traffic Emissions on Viral Lung Infection

Nanoparticle exposure reactivates latent herpesvirus and restores a signature of acute infection (19 page pdf, Christine Sattler, Franco Moritz, Shanze Chen, Beatrix Steer, David Kutschke, Martin Irmler, Johannes Beckers, Oliver Eickelberg, Philippe Schmitt-Kopplin, Heiko Adler and Tobias Stoeger, Particle and Fibre Toxicology, Jan. 10, 2017)

Also discussed here: Nanoparticle exposure can awaken dormant viruses in the lungs (ScienceDaily, Jan. 17, 2017)

Today we review a lab experiment on cells in mice that examined the impact of exposure to nanoparticles (NP). Results indicate that these nanoparticles can “reawaken” latent herpes viruses in the lung by weakening the immune system and allowing viruses to invade the host cell. The researchers would like to examine if these results can be transferred to humans and if so, if exposure to emissions from combustion and traffic-related emissions suggest another serious impact.

nanoparticles-and-virus

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Living Close to Traffic and the Risk of Dementia

Living close to major roads linked to small increase in dementia risk (Abstract, the Lancet, Jan.4, 2017)

Also discussed here: Living near major roads is associated with increased dementia risk, study finds (Susan Mayor, The British Medical Journal, Jan. 5, 2017)

And here: Living near major traffic linked to higher risk of dementia (Public Health Ontario, Jan. 4, 2017)

And here: Does Living by a Busy Road Boost Dementia Risk? Exposure to heavy traffic tied to cognitive decline (Alexandria Bachert , MedPage Today, Jan. 4, 2017)

Today we review a study with over 6.5 million people living in Ontario that examined the impact of living near high traffic roadways and the incidence of dementia, the first time such a study has been conducted in Canada. Results indicate a 7 percent higher risk for those who live within 50m (half a city block)compared to those who live more than 200 m from these roadways who have no higher risk. The specific pollutants found responsible include PM2.5 and NO2. Interesting that other neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis were found to not have a higher risk.

dementia

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Do Trees in Cities Help or Harm Our Health?

Air pollution: outdoor air quality and health (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Dec.1, 2016)

Also discussed here: Trees could make urban pollution even worse (quartz, Dec.6, 2016)

And here: Neighborhood greenspace and health in a large urban center (Nature, Scientific Reports, Jul. 9, 2015)

Today we review a guide about urban air pollution that looks into the role that street trees play with respect to reducing air pollution. The overall conclusion was that trees are unlikely to reduce air pollution and could add to it, especially if the trees reduce ventilation of air currents. This is true also of the more recent use of green walls. It is also acknowledged [in a Toronto study]that urban trees can improve health – as much as a $10,000 raise or feeling 7 years younger. Pine trees are singled out as a particular contributer to urban pollution through their emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC) which combine with the NO2 in car emissions to produce low level ozone, one of a handful of pollutants harmful to health.

tree-area-toronto

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How Does Air Pollution Accelerate Aging?

Long-term exposure to air pollution is associated with biological aging (16 page pdf, Cavin K. Ward-Caviness, Jamaji C. Nwanaji-Enwerem, Kathrin Wolf, Simone Wahl, Elena Colicino, Letizia Trevisi, Itai Kloog, Allan C. Just, Pantel Vokonas, Josef Cyrys, Christian Gieger, Joel Schwartz, Andrea A. Baccarelli, Alexandra Schneider and Annette Peters, Oncotarget, Oct. 25, 2016)

Also discussed here: Telomere (Wikipedia)

Today we review research conducted with older men and women (median age 74) where several measures of aging and old age illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and cognitive  abilities, were studied including chromosome characteristics (telomere length) and immune cell counts. Results indicate that air pollution exposure over a long time can damage the DNA, alter immune cell counts and add to oxidative stress with greater impact on men than women.

Telomere

Telomere (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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