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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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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What are the Public Health Considerations when Mitigating Climate Change in Cities?

Building-related health impacts in European and Chinese cities: a scalable assessment method (13 page pdf, Jouni T. Tuomisto, Marjo Niittynen, Erkki Pärjälä, Arja Asikainen, Laura Perez, Stephan Trüeb, Matti Jantunen, Nino Künzli and Clive E. Sabel , Environmental Health, Dec. 14, 2015)
Today we review an assessment of the impact of various climate mitigation changes on health, an aspect not often considered in trying to achieve the main objective of reduced carbon emissions by reducing energy requirements for buildings for example.. In the European cities examined the health benefits were minimal (but positive) largely because the existing power sources were already clean. Care needs to be taken when reducing heating needs by adding insulation which may cause a worsening of indoor air quality. The advantages of having such a model are clear as more cities undertake mitigation by redesigning buildings.

building and health

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How Does Outdoor Air Pollution Affect the Health of your Brain?

The Outdoor Air Pollution and Brain Health Workshop (27 page pdf, Michelle L. Block, Alison Elder, Rick L. Auten, Staci D. Bilbo, Honglei Chen, Jiu-Chiuan Chen, Deborah A. Cory-Slechta, Daniel Costa, David Diaz-Sanchez, David C.Dorman, Diane Gold, Kimberly Gray, Hueiwang Anna Jeng, Joel D. Kaufman,Michael T. Kleinman, Annette Kirshner, Cindy Lawler, David S. Miller, Sri Nadadur, Beate Ritz, Erin O. Semmens, Leonardo H. Tonelli, Bellina Veronesi, Robert O. Wright, and Rosalind Wright, Neurotoxicology, Oct, 1, 2013)

Today we review the observations and conclusions from a workshop on the Impacts of Outdoor Air Pollution on Brain Health in 2012. Air pollution has been thought to have impacts on the central nervous system (CNS) resulting in brain inflammations, autism, lower IQ in children and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases among others. Many neurogenerative diseases are associated with cumulative lifetime exposure resulting in premature aging. Research is called for which evaluates whether CNS disorders follow as a result of cardiovascular diseases or are independent of them

The central nervous system (2) is a combinatio...

The central nervous system (2) is a combination of the brain (1) and the spinal cord (3). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Impacts of Long Term Exposure to Particulate Matter on Heart Rate Variability

Exposure to sub-chronic and long-term particulate air pollution and heart rate variability in an elderly cohort: the Normative Aging Study (10 page pdf, Irina Mordukhovich, Brent Coull, Itai Kloog, Petros Koutrakis, Pantel Vokonas and Joel Schwartz, Environmental Health, Nov. 2015).

Today we review research into the health impact of long term exposure to particulate matter, specifically, heart rate variability which is associated with increased mortality risk. Results indicate a positive association in elderly men, even when the levels of PM2.5 consistently at or below EPA standards which is typical in the city where the research took place (Boston). This is one of few studies that examine the cardiovascular impacts beyond a couple of days

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 , ) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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What Are the Health Implications of Using Coal-Tar Sealants on Driveways and Parking Lots?

Studies Raise Questions about Pavement Sealers (2 page pdf, Environ Health Perspect. 2012 May 1, 2012)
Also discussed here: Public Health Statement – Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (Pahs)  (6 Page Pdf, Department Of Health And Human Services, Public Health Service Agency For Toxic Substances And Disease Registry, Center For Disease Control, Aug. 1995)
And here: A review of airborne polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and their human health effects (Abstract, Ki-Hyun Kim, Shamin Ara Jahan, Ehsanul Kabir, Richard J.C. Brown, Atmospheric Environment, Oct. 2013)

Today we review a short article that discusses the pros and cons of applying a sealant to driveways. The biggest pro is improving the cosmetic appearance of the driveway. The biggest con is that coal-tar based sealants act as source of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) for as long as eight years after the initial application, in addition to producing14.5 times higher concentration of PAH-contaminated indoor dust in residences located next to treated pavements. An asphalt pavement structure should last virtually forever if a thin coat of repaving is applied after 20 years along with interim crack sealing. The health impacts from exposure to PAH for long periods include a higher risk of cancer as well as cataracts, kidney and liver damage and jaundice.
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Is Exposure to Short-term Roadside Emissions a Greater Health Risk for Children?

Greater nitrogen dioxide concentrations at child versus adult breathing heights close to urban main road kerbside (7 page pf, Hannah S. Kenagy, Chun Lin, Hao Wu & Mathew R. Heal, Air Qual Atmos Health, Sep. 3, 2015)

Roadside emissions have been shown to pose a health threat for people living or travelling close to the roads but the studies have been restricted to measuring the exposure several metres above ground rather than at the same level as the exhaust itself or for people breathing in the pollution at different heights. Today we review research into this question with a focus on how this may pose a greater threat for children either walking or in a stroller/buggie at lower heights than their accompanying adults. Results indicate that NO2 concentration levels are 5 to 15% higher closer to the ground within 1.2 m of the side of the road or curb- with other actors such as windspeed kept constant. This has health implications for children near roads with heavy traffic (above 12,000 vehicles per day which is typical for a 2 lane busy urban road) and might suggest a greater setback for sidewalks for example.

Nitrogen dioxide, a large contributor to the p...

Nitrogen dioxide, a large contributor to the production of smog (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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