The Threat to Children’s Health from Air Pollution

Clear the air for children – The impact of air pollution on children (100 page pdf, Editor-In-Chief, David Anthony, UNICEF, Oct. 2016)

Also discussed here: A Staggering Number of the World’s Children Are Breathing Toxic Air   (Mother Jones, Oct. 31, 2016)

Today we review a report that documents the impact of indoor and outdoor pollution on the children of the world who are particularly vulnerable because, for their size,  they breathe more air than adults into lungs that are only beginning to develop. 300 million children live in areas with toxic air pollution and 2 billion live in areas where the air pollution exceeds minimum quality standards as set by the World Health Organization. Steps are recommended  (that apply to highly developed countries and cities as well as developing countries) to reduce this toll including less pollution indoors by using ventilation, better insulation to reduce fuel burning and cleaner stoves. Outdoors, situate schools and day cares away from traffic related pollution, replace private vehicle transportation with public transit, walking and cycling and monitor air pollution more carefully especially as it impacts child health.


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What is Important for Coastal Areas Facing Sea-Level Rise – A Literature Review

Resilience of Infrastructure Systems to Sea-Level Rise in Coastal Areas: Impacts, Adaptation Measures, and Implementation Challenges (28 page pdf, Beatriz Azevedo de Almeida and Ali Mostafavi, Sustainability, Nov. 1, 2016)

Today we summarize a literature review of research papers examining the impacts of sea level rise on coastal areas of the world which include flooding, coastal erosion, land subsidence and saltwater intrusion. A rise of only ½ a meter in the next 50 years puts at risk 150 million people and $35 trillion of assets in 20 of the world’s most vulnerable port cities. Any success in reducing carbon emissions and the associated increase via climate change in temperature, precipitation and sea level rise would allow for 30% less impact on infrastructure systems such as power stations, oil and gas refineries and wastewater treatment plants.


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How Can Cities Reduce Methane Emissions?

Mitigation of methane emissions in cities: how new measurements and partnerships can contribute to emissions reduction strategies (39 page pdf, Francesca M. Hopkins, James R. Ehleringer, Susan E. Bush, Riley M. Duren, Charles E.Miller, Chun-Ta Lai, Ying-Kuang Hsu, Valerie Carranza, James T. Randerson, Earth’s Future, Sep. 10, 2016)

Today we review research into methane emissions from cities which along with other greenhouse gases contributes to climate warming. Cities themselves account for 70% of GHG emissions globally.  Unlike CO2 however, methane emissions are more easily managed at the city level whether they come from transportation and the increased shift to natural gas as a fuel for city vehicles or, secondarily, from landfills where methane is emitted from decomposing organic materials or, thirdly, from leaks in the systems delivering natural gas to users. One of the major problems is the lack of accurate inventories of methane emissions which in some cities results in an underestimate of 50%. Some efforts being made in the transportation sector to reduce CO2 emissions include shifts to the use of propane or natural gas but these may have unintended consequences in terms of their contribution as a radiatively active gas to the greenhouse effect. Landfill emissions may be reduced by simply reducing the amount of waste generated though pricing of garbage or encouraging home composting.


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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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