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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How Does the Environment Affect Perceived Wait Times at Transit Stops?

Transit Stop Environments and Waiting Time Perception Impacts of Trees, Traffic Exposure, and Polluted Air (Abstract, Marina Lagune-ReutlerRelated information, Andrew GuthrieRelated information, Yingling FanRelated information, and David Levinson, Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, Jan. 9, 2017)

Also discussed here: Transit Riders’ Perception of Waiting Time and Stops, Surrounding Environments (17 page MS Word, Marina Lagune-Reutler, Andrew Guthrie, Yingling Fan, David Levinson, Draft submitted to Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, July 2015)

Today we review research based on over 800 responses from users of public transit in  Minneapolis, MN. The key factor studied was the wait times –both real and perceived- and how this varied with the type of environment found at bus and transit stops. Results indicate that  polluted air and the presence of heavy traffic near the stops tended to increase the length of perceived wait time when this was over 5 minutes while the presence of trees and light traffic shortened the perceived wait time. Conclusions and recommendations to encourage more transit use include locating transit lines away from traffic and heavily polluted areas and planting trees and foliage near the stops. Canadians and those in cold climates would be heartened by the finding that more or less snow has little effect on transit users who, if anything were more likely to happy they were not driving a private car.

transit-and-aq

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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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What is the biggest influence for commuters to walk, bike or drive a car?

On time and ready to go: An analysis of commuters’ punctuality and energy levels at work or school (Abstract, Charis Loong , Dea van Lierop , Ahmed El-Geneidy, Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, Dec. 23, 2016)

Also discussed here: Cyclists Are Winning Commuting (Andrew Small, The Atlantic City Lab, Dec. 23, 2016)
Today we review research into commuting choices made by staff and students at McGill University in Canada’s second largest city, Montreal. Although Montreal is hilly and quite cold and snowy in the winter, its cyclists and pedestrians are relatively well served by its city’s administration and policies as reflected in the infrastructure provided for pedestrians and cycling. Montreal has by far the best organized and extensive car free days each year. Montreal was the first city in Canada to have segregated bike lanes in its downtown. The study of McGill’s commuters reveals that, unlike what most people assume, commuting time per se is not the most important factor- punctuality and feeling energized on arrival are, while noting that the longest time for commutes were those taken by public transit or by private vehicle. If applicable elsewhere (and this may not be valid in cities where infrastructure is poor, where the commuters are older or where winter snow is too much of a barrier), this means that city transportation planners might have to give priority to punctuality and the benefits of arriving refreshed when deciding on improvements for commuters in their cities.

montreal-cycling
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How Are Weather Extremes Linked to Climate Change?

Extreme event attribution: the climate versus weather blame game (Rebecca Lindsey, NOAA Climate, Dec. 15, 2016)

Today we review a paper that describes the statistical process of attributing short term weather extreme events to the longer term changes underway as a result of climate change, whether that is due to natural or man-made burning of carbon fuels. It is important to understand the meaning of return periods. While the probability of a 100 year flood in a given year is 1%, the probability of the same flood over a period of 50 years is 40%. The blaming of an event on climate change depends on how good the observations of past events are, how well climate models can simulate the specific event and how well the physical processes are known and their association with climate change. Extended heat or cold events are more attributable than short term convective storms where the cross links are not as well understood.

extreme-events

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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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The Impact of Traffic-Related Air Pollution on Cloud Formation

Effect of vehicular traffic, remote sources and new particle formation on the activation properties of cloud condensation nuclei in the megacity of São Paulo, Brazil (22 page pdf, Carlos Eduardo Souto-Oliveira, Maria de Fátima Andrade, Prashant Kumar, Fábio Juliano da Silva Lopes, Marly Babinski, and Eduardo Landulfo, Atmos. Chem. Phys., Nov. 24, 2016)

Today we review research on the impact vehicle emissions have on cloud formation in the largest city in South America with a 20M population and 7 M vehicles. Such a concentration of emissions may have global impacts on precipitation. Cloud condensation nuclei in this city originate from three sources: vehicle emissions, biomass burning in the vast tropical forests and from sea-salt. Careful direct and indirect (lidart) measurements over a four month period revealed that vehicles were predominant in producing these nuclei with two diurnal maxima during rush hours.

trap-and-clouds

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