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Archive for the ‘Impacts of Air Pollution’ Category

What if we treated air pollution from burning (wood, coal, coffee, garbage) as a public health issue?

My Road, Moose Creek 1/27/2016 at 2 pm

My Road, Moose Creek 1/27/2016 at 2 pm [Click for link to a child’s asthma attack.]

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Report: Preventable Deaths from PM2.5 Air Pollution in Fairbanks, AK, 2014

According to a recent study, fine particulate matter (PM2.5) air pollution is associated with an 11.5 to 23.5 percent increased number of deaths in Fairbanks, Alaska. The higher end of the range applies to areas with higher PM2.5 concentrations, such as North Pole, Alaska. Each year, an estimated 50 to 101 deaths in the Fairbanks North Star Borough are associated with PM2.5 air pollution. Reducing ambient PM2.5 concentrations and ambient exposure would prevent these premature deaths.

This study is the first to associate PM2.5 with increased mortalities for the Fairbanks area.

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UPDATE 12/17/2013: This post has been updated with two more studies, making a total of four pioneering studies on the association between autism and prenatal air pollution exposure.

A child could carry a gene for autism and show no signs of it unless that gene was triggered by exposure to polluted air, according to research led by scientists at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.

Our research shows that children with both the risk genotype and exposure to high air pollutant levels were at increased risk of autism spectrum disorder compared to those without the risk genotype and lower air pollution exposure. —Heather E. Volk, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor of research in preventive medicine and pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and principal investigator at The Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, ScienceDaily.com article 12/2/2013

Heather E. Volk, PhD, MPH, and Daniel B. Campbell, PhD

The researchers found air pollution may compromise the healthy functioning of a child’s brain and immune system leading to autism in those who inherited a particular gene.

“This is the first demonstration of a specific interaction between a well-established genetic risk factor and an environmental factor that independently contribute to autism risk. The MET gene variant has been associated with autism in multiple studies, controls expression of MET protein in both the brain and the immune system, and predicts altered brain structure and function,” according to Daniel B. Campbell, PhD, Assistant Professor of psychiatry and the behavioral sciences at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and the study’s senior author. Keck School of Medicine article 12/2/2013

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disability characterized by problems with social interaction, communication and repetitive behaviors. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 50 children in the United States has an ASD. Forbes 3/20/2013 and Center for Disease Control autism fact sheet 3/20/2013

Previously, health studies have shown significant associations between exposure to fine particulate pollution (PM 2.5) and premature death from heart and lung disease. PM 2.5 pollution can aggravate heart and lung diseases and has been linked to effects including cardiovascular symptoms; cardiac arrhythmias; heart attacks; strokes; blood clots; diabetes; chemical sensitivity; asthma attacks; respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia; COPD; chronic bronchitis; low birth weight; and reduced IQ.

The study, “Autism spectrum disorder: Interaction of air pollution with the MET receptor tyrosine kinase gene,” was published in the January 2014 edition of Epidemiology, available here.

An earlier study, perhaps the first national study to associate autism with air pollution, was published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences journal Environmental Health Perspectives 8/2013, available here. This NIEHS study was covered by Autism Speaks.

Two related studies:

Becerra T, Wilhelm M, Olsen J, Cockburn M, Ritz B. Ambient Air Pollution and Autism in Los Angeles County, California. Environ Health Perspect 121:380–386 (3/2013). http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1205827 [Online 12/18/2012.]

Volk H, Lurmann F, Penfold B, Hertz-Picciotto I, McConnell R. Traffic-Related Air Pollution, Particulate Matter, and Autism. JAMA Psychiatry 2013;70(1):71-77. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.266. http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1393589 [Online 12/2012.]

Thanks to North Pole Clean Air for publicizing the connection between autism and air pollution and Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment for sharing the two related studies.

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The cancer agency of the World Health Organization, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC),  announced yesterday it has classified outdoor air pollution as:

Carcinogenic to Humans (Group 1)

The IARC concluded there is “sufficient evidence that exposure to outdoor air pollution causes lung cancer.”

According to Dr Kurt Straif, Head of the IARC Monographs Section, “We now know that outdoor air pollution is not only a major risk to health in general, but also a leading environmental cause of cancer deaths.”

Other agents classified by IARC as Group 1 carcinogens include Arsenic, Asbestos, Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) type 1, Particulate matter in outdoor air pollution, Plutonium, Radium, and Tobacco smoking, and Second-hand tobacco smoke.

Read more:

WHO IARC Press Release 10/17/2013

World Health Organization: Air pollution causes lung cancer WCPO Cincinnati 10/17/2013

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  Utah Physicians for a Health Environment on Facebook!

NORTH SALT LAKE —Dr. Brian Moench, president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, said the science is solid that wood smoke is extremely toxic, even more than cigarette smoke.

“We need the community to understand that wood burning is a public health hazard any time of the year and we simply need to phase it out, just like we did smoking in public places and for exactly the same reasons.”

“And it’s as big a contributor to our air pollution as all our cars,” he said. “We are not going to solve our air pollution problem without getting much stricter on prohibiting wood burning.”

The group gave a presentation Wednesday afternoon at the Utah Air Quality monthly board meeting. Members are asking the board to endorse the idea of phasing out all non-essential wood burning in non-attainment counties.

Source: Utah doctors propose eliminating use of wood burning stoves 10/2/2013 Standard Examiner

SALT LAKE CITY — Just as smoking cigarettes in an enclosed public place is harmful and no longer legal, a group of physicians said burning wood or coal in a fireplace or stove is a practice that has come and should go — especially in regions where Utah struggles with air quality.

“It is long overdue that we consider putting wood smoke into the community airshed as inappropriate,” said Dr. Brian Moench, president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.

“Wood smoke is an extremely toxic, public health hazard,” he said, pointing to Environmental Protection Agency numbers that show lifetime exposure to wood smoke is 12 times greater than being exposed to the equivalent amount of secondhand smoke.

Moench is going to make the case against what he calls the “air pollution elephant in the room” Wednesday to the Utah Air Quality Board during its regular monthly meeting.

Source: Physicians group targets fireplaces and fuel burning stoves 10/1/2013 Deseret News

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The Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute has been given a $970,979 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to study the effects of indoor pollution caused by using wood-burning cooking stoves.

For more on the study, see: LRRI receives Gates Foundation grant to study wood stove smoke 6/21/2013 Albuquerque Business First.

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Tonight’s hearing outcome: Planning Commissioners voted 5 to 2 to deny the appeal of the Borough land management proposal called Elbasan Acres.

What does this mean?

The Planning Commission tonight affirmed the Jan 30, 2013 decision of the Platting Board to approve Elbasan Acres in North Pole.

What is Elbasan Acres?

The Borough proposal to develop Borough land included a school site for an elementary school and possibly a second school on Borough land near the intersection of Repp and Hollowell Roads. In addition, it includes at least 115 home sites, perhaps up to 200 home sites, in a new subdivision near Brock and Repp Roads.

What’s the harm of Elbasan Acres?

The school and major subdivision would be located just outside the PM 2.5 nonattainment area, outside any protections or controls eventually applied inside the nonattainment area. Residents in the area and the students and staff at the new school would be at increased risk of premature death from lung or heart problems associated with highly polluted air.

In addition, putting these house lots on the market will further saturate an already struggling housing market, driving down private property values and harming the interests of current private property owners in the area.

Isn’t there a requirement to “protect and improve” health, safety, and welfare?

In the past, yes, when the landowner was a private property owner. But when the applicant is the Borough itself, apparently not. The code requirement applies to all property owners without exception. The Planning Commission decision tonight authorizes the Borough to ignore this provision of code for this particular subdivision and school.

Can the decision be appealed?

Yes, to state superior court.

If Jeanne Olson, the appellant, decides to appeal, your donation will be essential. If you’d like to pledge your support now, please send a message of your interest to cleanairfairbanks@gmail.com. Jeanne has already made significant commitments of time, energy, and expenses to bring the appeal to the Planning Commission.

Are other approvals needed for Elbasan Acres?

The Assembly will need to approve funding to construct the roads, survey the lots, and build the school. The Assembly has full authority to deny funds for these expenses and stop Elbasan Acres.

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