Do Cholesterol Pills Reduce the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease from Exposure to Particulate Matter?

Statins: Widely used drugs may protect people from air pollution (Brian Bienkowski, Environmental Health News, Nov. 24, 2014)

Also discussed here: Chronic PM2.5 exposure and inflammation: determining sensitive subgroups in mid-life women.(Abstract, Ostro B, Malig B, Broadwin R, Basu R, Gold EB, Bromberger JT, Derby C, Feinstein S, Greendale GA, Jackson EA, Kravitz HM, Matthews KA, Sternfeld B, Tomey K, Green RR, Green R, Wnviron Res., May 8, 2014)

Today we review research into the ways that the drugs taken to reduce cholesterol interact with C-reactive protein to reduce the inflammation that normally is caused by exposure to fine particulate matter. This is important since 1 in 4 adults over 45 take statins (including Lipitor, Zocor and other brand names) and over 800,000 deaths world-wide are caused by fine particles.

smart growth cities

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Does Air Pollution Cause Kidney Disease?

County-Level Air Quality and the Prevalence of Diagnosed Chronic Kidney Disease in the U.S. Medicare Population (Abstract, page 824, Jennifer L. Bragg-Gresham, Hal Morgenstern, William M. McClellan, Sharon Saydah, Desmond Williams, Neil R. Powe, Delphine S. Tuot, Yi Li,1 Rajiv Saran, American Society of Nephrology, Nov. 11-16, 2014)

Also discussed here: Air pollution associated with higher rates of chronic kidney disease (Science Daily, Nov. 16, 2014)

Today we review research into the link between air pollution and chronic kidney disease or CKD. Results indicate higher prevalence of the disease with particulate (PM2.5) readings as low as 8.4 μg/m3, much lower than the expected threshold of 40 μg/m3 for elderly patients. Higher incidence of CKD may be expected in countries or regions with higher air pollution levels than where this research was conducted in counties across the USA.


PULP MILL AIR POLLUTION – NARA – 544999 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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What is the Health Impact from Short Term Exposure to a Combination of Air Pollutants?

A Comparison of Risk Estimates for the Effect of Short-Term Exposure to PM, NO2 and CO on Cardiovascular Hospitalizations and Emergency Department Visits: Effect Size Modeling of Study Findings (14 page pdf, Ellen Kirrane, David Svendsgaard, Mary Ross, Barbara Buckley, Allen Davis, Doug Johns 1, Dennis Kotchmar, Thomas C. Long, Thomas J. Luben, Genee Smith and Lindsay Wichers Stanek, Atmopshere, Dec. 6, 2011)

Today we review research that statistically examines the degree to which one pollutant in combination with one or two others (CO, NO2 and PM) on a short term basis (a few days after exposure) affects health impacts and how much correlation exists between pollutants in causing these impacts. Results indicate that there is an association between NO2 and PM as one might expect this from transportation emissions and also the association between NO2 and cardiovascular diseases. The authors recommend a greater density of monitors to measure the pollutant concentrations and to isolate the influence of each.

PM CO and NO2 correlations

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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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