What Are the Health Impacts from Urban Building Demolitions?

Ambient exposure to coarse and fine particle emissions from building demolition (Abstract, Farhad Azarmi & Prashant Kumar , Atmospheric Environment, Apr. 22, 2016)
Today we review research into the dispersion of fine particles, including Aluminum(Al), silicate(Si) Zinc (Zn) and Magnesium (Mg), from a building demolition in London, UK, using a dispersion model that took into account windspeed and direction,  decay over time and distance from the site. Demolition of buildings is expected to increase significantly, as a result of a 60% greater urban population over the next two decades, in addition to newer urban design forms and technologies.

The exposure to the particles noted above are linked to lung and kidney (renal) diseases, greater mortality and cardiovascular and Alzheimer diseases. Results indicate that concentrations of particulate matter (PM1, PM2.5 and PM 10) downwind of the demolition site is 4 to 11 times (respectively) greater than background levels, Males near or in the site inhale more dust than females and thus have a higher health risk. One could expect similar impacts from the digging of roads and construction of tunnels and ditches for Light and Heavy Rail Transit in large cities, currently in progress and planned for cities such as Toronto and Ottawa.

demolition pm graph
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How Much do Computers Contribute to Climate Warming?

The dirty parts of the computing world (Nathan Ensmenger, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Apr. 11, 2016)

Today we review as assessment of the degree to which computers and computer networks contribute to or pollute with energy use, water consumption, mining and e-waste. In all four categories computer technology plays a significant role with 2 of global electricity use, and 25 tons of e-waste from Western countries alone. A typical desktop computer uses 30% more energy than the standard refrigerator. The computational output from Bitcoin is 256 times the combined capacity of the world’s 500 top supercomputers. In many countries, energy is produced from fuels such as coal and natural gas which produce carbon emissions. Clearly computers should be part of the accounting of the world’s energy, waste and water tallies.

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What Can Canadian Cities Do to Mitigate Climate Change?

Low carbon futures in Canada – the role of urban climate change mitigation (22 page pdf, Ralph Torrie, Torrie Smith Associates, Sept. 2015)

Today we review a report by an authorities on carbon emissions and a Canadian, Ralph Torrie. Although Canada has one of the lowest population densities in the world, over 80 % of Canadians are clustered into urban areas which make up 42% of the national GHG emissions. Community emissions from urban areas such as private transportation and residential heating are 40-50 times greater than those directly emitted from corporate operations such as public transit, waste processing and energy. While urban populations have increased over the last 25 years, urban GHG emissions have decreased by 20%. Future municipal reductions centre on energy efficiency in areas such as traffic and road lights and vehicle fleets while community reductions centre on lower emissions from improved building insolation and the use of geothermal energy and more efficient private transportation from improvements such as electric vehicles.

urban pop

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What are the Health Impacts for People Living Near Biodegradable Waste Sites?

Respiratory and sensory irritation symptoms among residents exposed to low-to-moderate air pollution from biodegradable wastes (Abstract, Victoria Blanes-Vidal, Jesper Bælum, Joel Schwartz, Per Løfstrøm and Lars P Christensen, Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, Aug. 21, 2014)
Also discussed here: Respiratory, Sensory and General Health Symptoms among Populations Exposed to Air Pollution from Biodegradable Wastes (1 page pdf, Victoria Blanes-Vidal, Jesper Bælum, Joel Schwartz, Esmaeil S. Nadimi, Per Løfstrøm, Lars P. Christensen, Poster Paper, International Society for Environmental Epidemiology, Aug. 21, 2014)

Today we review research from Denmark which examined the direct and indirect impacts for people in residences near biodegradable waste sites. Results indicate increased frequency of respiratory and sensory irritation symptoms directly related to dose and exposure.

bio waste

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What is E-Waste and What Health Risks does it Bring?

E-Waste: Health Impacts in Developing Countries (EHS Journal, Jul. 19, 2014)

Today we review a paper that describes the size and health threat of the annual disposal of 40M tones of e-waste, nearly 50% of which comes from EU and USA/Canada, with most of the disposal and processing taking place in Asian countries such as India, China and Pakistan. E-waste is considered more dangerous than most other municipal waste because of the harmful metals that when incinerated produce high health risk dioxins and furans. Government and public health regulations are called for in the manufacturing and recycling of electronic devices, as well as in the safe handling of the waste management.

ewaste

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Has Municipal Waste Peaked?

Peak Waste? The Other Side of the Industrial Cycle (14 page pdf, Ugo Bardi, Virginia Pierini, Alessandro Lavacchi and Christophe Mangeant, Sustainability, Jun. 30, 2014)

Today we turn our attention to one of the key areas of responsibility for municipalities (along with their control of traffic and road construction, water supply and local public health)- the collection of solid waste and storage in “city dumps”. The article under review looks at trends in garbage collection, pointing out that cities typically deal with short lived items such as packaging and perishable goods rather than the types of output of industrial waste which may include nuclear waste with lifetimes lasting hundreds of years.

Reference is made to the early work of the Club of Rome and its 1972 “Limits to Growth” world model, linking the economy to consumption of goods to pollution and waste, warning that, without a change, the global system would decline markedly. New data on waste now indicate that along with a peak in automobile, there now is an observed peak in municipal waste, citing the trends in the world’s leading producers of garbage (and greenhouse gases), China and the USA, a trend observed in other developed countries which is seen to be the result of efforts to reuse products and turn to renewable energy over carbon-based energy sources, as well as to more efficient waste treatment facilities.

MSW china and USA_Page_1MSW china and USA_Page_2

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What Do Crematoriums Contribute to Urban Air Pollution?

Toxic Emissions from Crematories: A Review(7 page pdf, Montse Mari, José L. Domingo, Environment International, Oct. 12, 2009)

Also discussed here: Incineration – EMEP/EEA Emission Inventory Guidebook(13 page pdf, Marc Deslauriers, David R. Niemi and Mike Woodfield, 2009)

Today we review the literature on emissions from incineration  of human bodies which is the way almost all bodies are disposed of in Japan and China and have increased to around 37% in the USA and Europe today and increasing about 10% per decade. Very few analyses of emissions from crematoriums are available but there are concerns about the amount of mercury from tooth fillings that end up in the air. The paper concludes that unless  mercury emissions from crematories are properly controlled, these facilities -which number over 1,000 in Europe alone – could become an important source of air pollution.

cremation

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