Pollution Can Change Your DNA in 3 Days, Study Suggests

Pollution Can Change Your DNA in 3 Days, Study Suggests

Ker Than
for National Geographic News

May 17, 2009

Breathing in polluted air may wreak havoc on our DNA, reprogramming genes in as few as three days and causing increased rates of cancer and other diseases.

So says a new study that tracked DNA damage in 63 steel-foundry workers in Brescia, Italy, who, under their normal factory conditions, were exposed to particulate matter.

The same damage may occur in city dwellers exposed to normal air, the researchers say.

Particulate matter includes suspended, tiny bits of dust, metal, or soot in the air, which can lodge deep in the lungs. Exposure to the substance has been linked to respiratory diseases, lung cancer, and heart problems.

Scientists know little about how inhaling particulate matter can cause health problems, according to lead study author Andrea Baccarelli of the University of Milan.

But they did find that exposed workers’ DNA was damaged by a slowed rate of “methylation,” a biological process in which genes are organized into different chemical groups.

Fewer groups means that fewer genes are expressed—or made into proteins—a crucial process in the body’s regular maintenance.

(Learn how DNA works.)

Reduced-size gene groups like the ones observed in the new study have also been found in the blood DNA of lung cancer patients.

Widespread Damage

In the study, the workers’ blood was sampled on the morning of the first day of their workweeks—before they were heavily exposed to the foundry’s air—and again a few days later.

Comparisons between the two samples revealed significant changes in the methylation of four genes that may suppress tumors, said Baccarelli, who presented his research May 17 at the International Conference of the American Thoracic Society in San Diego, California.

You might not have to be a steelworker to sustain this kind of genetic damage, Baccarelli added.

It’s true that air near the steel foundry contains about ten times more particulate matter than ambient—or normal—air, and a larger fraction of foundry-air particles are metals.

But the team speculates that the same damage can occur in city dwellers—the effects, however, take weeks or months to show up.

For instance, Baccarelli has done previous research that shows elderly people in Boston had DNA damage from breathing in particulate matter.

But Baccarelli added that “our results need to be confirmed in air pollution studies before they can be extended to the general population.”

(Related: “Scentless Spring? Flower Smells Blocked by Pollution.”)

Take Your Vitamins?

John Heffner is professor of medicine at Oregon Health and Science University and a past president of the American Thoracic Society.

The new study strengthens the link between particulate inhalation and lung cancer, said Heffner, who did not participate in the research.

“Other investigators have shown that inhalation of particulate matter affects DNA through the methylation process,” he said.

“What these investigators have done is show that the genes affected are ones that are known to be related to the development of lung cancer.”

Related work by Baccarelli’s team also raises the possibility that methylation damage from particulate matter can be slowed or even reversed with folic acid, a vitamin naturally found in many foods.

The vitamin “may make methylation machineries more efficient,” lead study author Baccarelli said.

“We found that subjects with higher intakes of methyl nutrients were protected from some of the cardiac effects of particulate matter.”

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/05/090517-pollution-changes-dna_2.html

Exerpt from Peak-Oil Prophet James Howard Kunstler on Car Dependancy & the Obvious Link to Obesity in North America

KT: A study has just come out showing that although the French spend two hours eating each day — roughly twice as long as we do — they’re among the slimmest of the 18 nations in the study. Americans were the fattest, with more than 1 in 3 Americans qualifying as obese. How would you explain this phenomenon? What compels Americans to eat so many of our meals in our cars?

JHK: Americans eat so many meals in cars because: 1) The infrastructure of daily life is engineered for extreme car dependency, and 2) because the paucity of decent quality public space and so-called third places (gathering places) for the working classes (and lower) — and remember, it is the working classes and poor who are way disproportionately obese. The people portrayed in Vanity Fair magazine are not fat. I suspect that the amount of time Americans spend in their cars is roughly proportionate to the amount of time French people spend at the table.

Fast food is not a new phenomenon in the USA, however. Frances Trollope’s sensational travel book of the 1830s, The Domestic Manners of the Americans dwells on the horrifying spectacle of our hotel dining rooms, where people bolted their food with disgusting manners. Americans have been in a tearing rush for 200 years.

To read the full AlterNet Interview:

http://www.alternet.org/environment/139877/peak-oil_prophet_james_howard_kunstler_on_food%2C_fuel_and_why_he_became_a_vegan_/?page=1

Air Pollution Endangers Lives of Six in 10 Americans | Drive-thrus Contribute

Air Pollution Endangers Lives of Six in 10 Americans

WASHINGTON, DC, April 29, 2009 (ENS) – Six out of every 10 Americans – 186.1 million people – live in areas where air pollution endangers lives, according to the 10th annual American Lung Association State of the Air report released today.

Some of the biggest sources of air pollution – dirty power plants, dirty diesel engines and ocean-going vessels – also worsen global warming, the Lung Association says in State of the Air 2009.

As America deals with the linked challenges of air pollution, global warming and energy, the Lung Association urges Congress, the U.S. EPA and individuals to choose solutions that help solve all three challenges together.

Nearly every major American city is still burdened by air pollution, and the air in many cities became dirtier since last year, the report finds, despite “substantial progress” made against air pollution in many areas of the country and more attention paid to the environment by America’s growing green movement.

“This should be a wakeup call. We know that air pollution is a major threat to human health,” said Stephen Nolan, American Lung Association National Board Chair. “When 60 percent of Americans are left breathing air dirty enough to send people to the emergency room, to shape how kids’ lungs develop, and to kill, air pollution remains a serious problem.”

State of the Air 2009 includes a national air quality report card that assigns A-F grades to communities across the country and details trends for 900 counties over the past decade.

The report ranks cities and counties most affected by the three most widespread types of pollution – ozone, or smog; annual particle pollution; and 24-hour particle pollution levels.

The report finds that air pollution hovers at unhealthy levels in almost every major city, threatening people’s ability to breathe and placing lives at risk.

“The more we learn, the more urgent it becomes for us to take decisive action to make our air healthier,” said Nolan.

Many cities, like Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and Baltimore have made improvements in their air quality over the past decade.

Only one city, Fargo, North Dakota, ranked among the cleanest in all three air pollution categories.

Seventeen cities appeared on two of the three lists of cleanest cities: Billings, Montana; Bismarck and Sioux Falls, North Dakota; Cheyenne, Wyoming; Colorado Springs, Ft. Collins, and Pueblo, Colorado; Farmington and Santa Fe-Espanola, New Mexico; Honolulu, Hawaii; Lincoln, Nebraska; Midland-Odessa, Texas; Port St. Lucie, Florida; Redding, Salinas, and San Luis Obispo, California; and Tucson, Arizona.

The three cities most polluted by ozone are all in California – the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside metropolitan area; Bakersfield, a center of agriculture, petroleum extraction and refining, and manufacturing in the San Joaquin Valley; and Visalia-Porterville, a San Joaquin Valley agricultural community.

Pittsburgh-New Castle, Pennsylvania tops the list of cities most polluted by 24 hour fine particle pollution, while the three California cities that top the most polluted ozone list are close behind in this category and also for year-round particle pollution.

Ozone

In March 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adopted a new, tighter standard for ozone pollution. The new standard showed that unhealthy ozone levels are more widespread and more severe than previously recognized.

Evaluating the most recent data against the new standard, the American Lung Association found that approximately 175.4 million Americans – 58 percent – live in counties where ozone monitors recorded too many days with unhealthy ozone levels, far more than the 92.5 million identified in the State of the Air 2008 report.

Sixteen cities making this year’s 25 most ozone-polluted list experienced worse smog problems than last year.

The Lung Association’s review found consistent improvements in ozone in some cities, such as Los Angeles, with its long-standing ozone problem.

But two cities, Dallas-Ft. Worth and Las Vegas, have higher ozone levels than 10 years ago.

Ozone is the most widespread form of air pollution. When inhaled, ozone irritates the lungs, resulting in something like a bad sunburn. The health effects of breathing ozone pollution can be immediate. Ozone can cause wheezing, coughing and asthma attacks. Breathing ozone pollution can even shorten lives.

“More than 175 million Americans live in areas with unhealthy smog levels — that’s 80 million more than we identified in last year’s report,” said Charles Connor, American Lung Association president and chief executive. “We at the American Lung Association believe that the new ozone standard is not yet strong enough to protect human health — an opinion nearly all scientific experts share.”

In March 2008, the EPA adopted a standard of .075 parts per million, ppm, after legal action by the American Lung Association forced the agency to complete a formal review. This standard is not as strict as the standard of .060 ppm recommended by the Lung Association.

The association, along with states, public health and environmental groups, has taken the EPA back to court in an attempt to force the agency to adopt the .060 ppm standard before its scheduled five-year review in 2013.

Particle Pollution

State of the Air 2009 grades counties for both 24-hour and year-round levels of particle pollution – a toxic mix of microscopic soot, diesel exhaust, chemicals, metals and aerosols.

“It is the most dangerous and deadly of the outdoor air pollutants that are widespread in America,” the Lung Association says in its report, warning that “breathing in particle pollution can increase the risk of early death, heart attacks, strokes and emergency room visits for asthma and cardiovascular disease.”

One in six people in the United States lives in an area with unhealthy year-round levels of fine particle pollution (termed annual average levels).

Nine cities in the list of the 25 most polluted by year-round particle pollution showed measurable improvement, including five cities that reported their best year-round levels since the Lung Association began tracking this pollutant: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Atlanta, York and Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

The annual average level of particle pollution worsened in a dozen cities, including Bakersfield and Los Angeles, California and Houston, Texas.

Roughly three in 10 Americans live in counties with unhealthful spikes of particle pollution which can last from hours to days (termed 24-hour levels).

Thirteen cities had more days, or more severe days, of spikes than in last year’s report. Eleven cities have improved continually since the 2007 report.

New data show that women in their 50′s may be particularly threatened by air pollution and that diesel truck drivers and dockworkers who are forced to breathe exhaust on the job may face a greater risk of developing lung cancer or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

California researchers have tripled their estimate of the number of people that particle pollution kills each year in their state.

“The science is rock-solid. We now know that air pollution can impair the lung function of even the healthiest people,” said Norman Edelman, MD, American Lung Association chief medical officer. “Air pollution worsens asthma and is a direct cause of heart attacks, which makes people living with lung and heart disease especially vulnerable.”

Dr. Edelman suggests that people living in areas of high particle pollution “must recognize that this is the fact of their lives, and they must be more careful about other life factors – stop smoking, eat well, exercise.”

In addition, Dr. Edelman suggests, people who live with particle pollution “must take action help us and other organizations to change the EPA regulations. It’s personal, it’s affecting them and their neighbors.” In addition, he said, they can take local political action to change regulations such as engine idling, and clean up diesel-powered school buses.

Low income people and some racial and ethnic groups often face greater risk from pollutants. Pollution sources like factories and power plants may be closer to their homes, the Lung Association points out. Many live near areas with heavy highway traffic or have poor access to health care, which makes them even more vulnerable. Some racial and ethnic groups have a higher prevalence of diseases like asthma or diabetes, which compounds the ill effects of air pollution for these groups.

“We need to renew our commitment to providing healthy air for all our citizens — a commitment the United States made almost 40 years ago when Congress passed the Clean Air Act,” Connor said. “After four decades, we still have much work to do.”

“America needs to cut emissions from big polluters like coal-fired power plants and ocean-going vessels,” Connor said. “We need to fix old dirty diesel engines to make them cleaner and strengthen the ozone standards to better protect our health. We also need to improve the decaying infrastructure of air monitors. America must now enforce the laws that help us improve our nation’s air quality.”

CLEANEST U.S. CITIES

Cleanest U.S. Cities for Ozone Air Pollution *Cities below had equal scores.

  • Billings, Montana
  • Carson City, Nevada
  • Coeur D’Alene, Idaho
  • Fargo-Wahpeton, North Dakota-Minnesota
  • Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Laredo, Texas
  • Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Port St. Lucie-Sebastian-Vero Beach, Florida
  • Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Cleanest U.S. Cities for Short-term Particle Pollution (24 Hour PM2.5) *Cities below had equal scores.

  • Alexandria, Louisiana
  • Amarillo, Texas
  • Austin-Round Rock, Texas
  • Bismarck, North Dakota
  • Brownsville-Harlingen-Raymondville, Texas
  • Cheyenne, Wyoming
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Corpus Christi-Kingsville, Texas
  • Fargo-Wahpeton, North Dakota-Minnesota
  • Farmington, New Mexico
  • Fort Collins-Loveland, Colorado
  • Grand Junction, Colorado
  • Longview-Marshall, Texas
  • Midland-Odessa, Texas
  • Oklahoma City-Shawnee, Oklahoma
  • Portland-Lewiston-South Portland, Maine
  • Pueblo, Colorado
  • Redding, California
  • Salinas, California
  • San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, California
  • Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, California
  • Santa Fe-Espanola, New Mexico
  • Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  • Tucson, Arizona

10 Cleanest U.S. Cities for Long-term Particle Pollution (Annual PM2.5)

  • Cheyenne, Wyoming
  • Santa Fe-Espanola, New Mexico
  • Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Great Falls, Montana (tied for 4th)
  • Flagstaff, Arizona (tied for 4th)
  • Farmington, New Mexico (tied for 6th)
  • Anchorage, Alaska (tied for 6th)
  • Tucson, Arizona
  • Bismarck, North Dakota (tied for 9th)
  • Salinas, California (tied for 9th)

MOST POLLUTED U.S. CITIES

10 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Ozone

  1. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, California
  2. Bakersfield, California
  3. Visalia-Porterville, California
  4. Fresno-Madera, California
  5. Houston-Baytown-Huntsville, Texas
  6. Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Yuba City, California-Nevada
  7. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
  8. Charlotte-Gastonia-Salisbury, N.C.-S.C.
  9. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Arizona
  10. El Centro, California

10 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Short-term Particle Pollution (24 Hour PM2.5)

  1. Pittsburgh-New Castle, Pennsylvania
  2. Fresno-Madera, California
  3. Bakersfield, California
  4. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, California
  5. Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman, Alabama
  6. Salt Lake City-Ogden-Clearfield, Utah
  7. Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Yuba City, California-Nevada
  8. Logan, Utah
  9. Chicago-Naperville-Michigan City, Illinois-Indiana-Wisconsin (tied for 9th)
  10. Detroit-Warren-Flint, Michigan (tied for 9th)

10 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Year-Round Particle Pollution (Annual PM2.5)

  1. Bakersfield, California
  2. Pittsburgh-New Castle, Pennsylvania
  3. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, California
  4. Visalia-Porterville, California
  5. Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman, Alabama
  6. Hanford-Corcoran, California
  7. Fresno-Madera, California
  8. Cincinnati-Middletown-Wilmington, Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana
  9. Detroit-Warren-Flint, Michigan
  10. Cleveland-Akron-Elyria, Ohio

Visit www.lungusa.org to search local air quality grades by zip code.

Greenhouse Gas Bulletin

WMO Greenhouse gas bulletin
Courtesy of World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
Originally published Nov. 2008

world-climate-news-2008-june-see-page-9

[Note: On the PDF above - Page 9.  We are actually at 288 PPMV and not 281 as the report states.  This is due to the fact their reference date is 2006 and now we are 2009.  A 7 point increase.]

The latest analysis of data from the WMO-GAW Global Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Network, a comprehensive network of the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), shows that the globally averaged mixing ratios of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) have reached new highs in 2007 with CO2 at 383.1 ppm, CH4 at 1789 ppb and N2O at 320.9 ppb. These values are higher than those in pre-industrial times (before 1750) by 37%, 156% and 19%, respectively. Atmospheric growth rates in 2007 of CO2 and N2O are consistent with recent years. The mixing ratio of CH4 shows the largest increase since 1998. The NOAA Annual Greenhouse Gas Index (AGGI) shows that from 1990 to 2007 the atmospheric radiative forcing by all long-lived greenhouse gases has increased by 24.2%. The combined radiative forcing by the most abundant ozone depleting substances, CFC-11 and CFC-12, exceeds that of N2O. They are decreasing very slowly as a result of emission reductions under the Montreal Protocol on Substances That
Deplete the Ozone Layer.


For Free Access to the full article click here (pdf Format)

http://www.environmental-expert.com/resultEachArticle.aspx?cid=27116&codi=40329&loginemail=elle-provocateur@sympatico.ca&logincode=187521

NEW STUDY | Benefits of Meeting Clean Air Standards

red-car-exhaust

California Loses $28 Billion Yearly Due to Health Effects of Pollution. By Louis Sahagun, LATimes, November 13, 2008. “The California economy loses about $28 billion annually due to premature deaths and illnesses linked to ozone and particulates spewed from hundreds of locations in the South Coast and San Joaquin air basins, according to findings [Benefits of Meeting Clean Air Standards, PDF, 108 pp, executive summary, PDF, 8 pp] released Wednesday by a Cal State Fullerton research team. Most of those costs… are connected to roughly 3,000 smog-related deaths each year, but additional factors include work and school absences, emergency room visits, and asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses, said team leader Jane Hall, a professor of economics and co-director of the university’s Institute for Economics and Environmental Studies.”

California economy loses $28 billion yearly to health effects of pollution

VIDEO:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-pollute13-2008nov13,0,3895359.story

Most of the losses are attributable to 3,000 annual deaths, a Cal State Fullerton study says. The study underscores the economic benefits of meeting federal air quality standards.

Louis Sahagun


November 13, 2008

The California economy loses about $28 billion annually due to premature deaths and illnesses linked to ozone and particulates spewed from hundreds of locations in the South Coast and San Joaquin air basins, according to findings released Wednesday by a Cal State Fullerton research team.

Most of those costs, about $25 billion, are connected to roughly 3,000 smog-related deaths each year, but additional factors include work and school absences, emergency room visits, and asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses, said team leader Jane Hall, a professor of economics and co-director of the university’s Institute for Economics and Environment Studies.

The study underscores the economic benefits of meeting federal air quality standards at a time when lawmakers and regulators are struggling with California’s commitment to protecting public health in a weak economy.

The $90,000 study does not propose any particular action. But in an interview, Hall said, “We are going to pay for it one way or the other. Either we pay to fix the problem or we pay in loss of life and poor health. . . . This study adds another piece to the puzzle as the public and policy-makers try to understand where do we go from here.”

The California Air Resources Board is scheduled to vote Dec. 11 on whether to adopt broader rules that would force more than 1 million heavy-duty diesel truckers to install filters or upgrade their engines. Truckers and agribusiness have argued against stricter regulation, saying it is too expensive for them to invest in clean vehicles at a time of economic uncertainty.

Mary Nichols, chairman of the air resources board, said the findings will “be useful to all of us. Our board members hear on a regular basis from constituents who are concerned about the costs of regulations, and seldom hear from people concerned about their health because they are collectively and individually not as well organized.”

In the meantime, the two regions continue to pay a steep price for generating air pollution ranked among the worst in the country. In the South Coast basin, that cost is about $1,250 per person per year, which translates into a total of about $22 billion in savings if emissions came into compliance with federal standards, Hall said. In the San Joaquin air basin, the cost is about $1,600 per person per year, or about $6 billion in savings if the standards were met.

The savings would come from about 3,800 fewer premature deaths among those age 30 and older; 1.2 million fewer days of school absences; 2 million fewer days of respiratory problems in children; 467,000 fewer lost days of work and 2,700 fewer hospital admissions, according to the study.

The study noted that attaining the federal standard for exposure to particulates would save more lives than lowering the number of motor vehicle fatalities to zero in most of the regions examined.

The hardest hit were fast-growing communities in Kern and Fresno counties, where 100% of the population was exposed to particulate concentrations above the average federal standard from 2005 to 2007. High rates of exposure were also found in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, where diesel soot is blown by prevailing winds and then trapped by four mountain ranges.

Considered the most lethal form of air pollution, microscopic particulates expelled from tailpipes, factory smoke stacks, diesel trucks and equipment can penetrate through the lungs and enter the bloodstream. Exposure to these fine particles has been linked to severe asthma, cancer and premature deaths from heart and lung disease.

“In the South Coast basin, an average 64% of the population is exposed to health-endangering annual averages of particulates,” Hall said, “and in the most populated county — Los Angeles — it is 75%.

“In most years, the South Coast and San Joaquin basins vie with the Houston, Texas, area for the worst air pollution trophy, but this year we took it back,” she said. “That’s not a prize you want to be handed. Essentially, imported T-shirts and tennis shoes are being hauled to Omaha and the big-rig diesel pollution stays here.”

Nidia Bautista, community engagement director for the Coalition for Clean Air, described the findings as “staggering, and a reminder that health is too often the trade-off when it comes to cleaning the air.”

Angelo Logan, spokesman for the East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, put it another way: “At a time when government is handing out economic stimulus packages, we could use an economic relief package to help us deal with environmental impacts on our health, families and pocketbooks.”

Hall agreed. “This is a drain that could be spent in far better ways,” she said.

A New RWDI Report as Commissioned by the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario

This was discovered while reading a new report on Ontario’s Undervalued Water: 2007/08 Annual Report – Getting to K(No)w

Here is a report (full report is attached) presented to Gord Miller, Ontario Environmental Commissioner:

“Predicting Air Quality at Street Level – A State-of-Science Review Study – 08 April 2008 Project # W08-5129A.”

eco-2008-2008-air-quality-at-street-level-in-ontario

Guess who was contracted to do the report?  RWDI.  The same consulting group that has been waving their paper all over Canada for the TDL group (Tim Hortons) in defence of idling in drive-thrus.

Is this not the greatest contradiction one has ever seen?  From the report:

Air Quality Monitoring and Reporting in Ontario – Fostering a False Sense of Security (p. 57)

In Ontario, air pollution is a public health crisis, with thousands of premature deaths attributed to air pollution each year. To help the public reduce or modify their exposure to poor air quality, the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) monitors and provides regular updates on regional ambient air quality through its on-line Air Quality Index (AQI) (see http://www.airqualityontario.com). MOE’s 40 monitoring stations measure six key air pollutants known to be harmful to human health, including ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5).

Unfortunately, Ontarians who rely on the government’s AQI may be lulled into a false sense of security about the quality of the air they breathe. MOE’s monitoring stations are intentionally located away from local sources of pollutants in order to provide representative information about regional average exposure to air pollutants; while MOE’s data is useful for predicting air quality on a regional scale, it does not provide information about local – “street-level” – air quality at any given location.  Current reporting of air quality by MOE based on the AQI may lead Ontarians to believe that air quality on the streets is better than it actually is.

To illustrate this concern, in the summer of 2007 the ECO asked air quality experts to monitor the air quality at street-level at a variety of locations across Ontario. The results revealed that levels of particulate matter were consistently higher at street-level sampling locations than at MOE’s equivalent AQI monitoring stations. For example, while street-level samples collected in downtown Toronto recorded concentrations of particulate matter equivalent to the AQI’s “very poor” category, MOE’s Toronto downtown AQI station reported air quality to be “good” at that time.

The ECO sees a pressing need to overhaul Ontario’s outdated and inadequate air quality monitoring and reporting program to ensure that Ontarians have the information about air quality they need to make informed decisions.

From the report:
1. INTRODUCTION

Poor air quality can cause a number of adverse health effects in humans. As summarized by Toronto Public Health (TPH, 2004), short-term exposure to pollutants commonly found in urban air can cause increases in respiratory symptoms, infections, emergency room and hospital admissions, and even premature death in some cases. Long-term exposure to air pollution can cause chronic health diseases, reduce life expectancy, and increase the risk of lung cancer (TPH, 2004; Pope, 2004; and Halton Region, 2007).

For many years, both the Canadian Federal and Ontario Provincial governments have had programs in place to advise the public of air pollution episodes. These programs make use of both air quality measurements and computer-generated forecasts. For cost reasons, air quality measurement networks tend to be limited to a small number of monitoring stations in any urban area, all located away from major local emission sources, in places such as city parks. Measurements from these sites give information on the regional average exposure to air pollutants. Similarly, computer-generated forecasts are typically resolved at horizontal scales of several kilometres, because of limitations in computing power, and only provide information on regional average exposure.

These measurement and forecast systems have proven useful to advise the public about large scale smog events, but do not deal with public exposure to pollutants at a local or street level. Large numbers of people in urban centres are exposed, at least for parts of their day, to air pollution at street level where vehicle emissions may be trapped in the canyon created by large buildings on either side. As such, the exposure to pollutants at street level is typically very different from the regional average exposure measured at monitoring stations and predicted by computer models.

Due to the human, environmental and economic costs associated with poor air quality, the Environment Commissioner of Ontario (ECO) is interested in knowing how the current air quality forecasting programs in Ontario and the rest of Canada compare to those of other jurisdictions and to the state-of-the-science, in terms of representing the true air pollution exposure of urban populations. This information will allow the ECO to assess whether these programs are adequate for informing the public concerning exposure to poor air quality in Ontario.

To assist with this initiative, the ECO retained RWDI AIR Inc. to perform the following tasks.

• Review and summarize current air quality forecasting and ambient monitoring initiatives being implemented by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Environment Canada. Also, research and briefly summarize operational air quality forecasting and ambient monitoring initiatives used in other national and international jurisdictions.

• Review and summarize the current state-of-the-science for systems designed to predict air pollutant concentrations at street level, to gain an appreciation for what is currently possible and where the science is headed in the future. Predicting Air Quality at Street Level – A State-of-Science Review Study – 08 April 2008 Page 2 Project # W08-5129A

• Prepare a ‘Lay Language’ report (this report). Although the report contains some technical content, the focus is on presenting the information in brief and general terms.

• At a workshop with the ECO, present the findings from this study and explore the approaches being used in Ontario (and Canada as a whole) in light of operational modelling and monitoring initiatives in other jurisdictions and the current state-of-the science. Incorporate into a final report the key issues discussed during the workshop and a list of recommendations for “next steps’.

http://www.eco.on.ca/eng/index.php/pubs/eco-publications/2007-08-AR.php

STUDY | CARCINOGENS FROM CAR EXHAUST CAN LINGER

From: Science News, Aug. DAY, 2008

Cancer-causing agents’ interaction with nanoparticles could make the chemicals as harmful as cigarette smoke, lab study suggests

By Davide Castelvecchi

The daily exposure to free radicals from car exhaust, smokestacks and even your neighbors’ barbecue could be as harmful as smoking, according to a new study. Many combustion processes, such as those in a car, create tiny particles that may act as brewing pots and carriers for free radicals — chemicals believed to cause lung cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

The findings are from Barry Dellinger of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, who reported them August 17 in Philadelphia during a meeting of the American Chemical Society. Whether the exposure equates to smoking one cigarette or as many as two packs a day remains difficult to determine, he added.

His team’s lab experiments — first described in the July 1 Environmental Science & Technology — suggest that noxious chemicals form on soot nanoparticles in the still-hot residue of combustion, for example inside a car’s exhaust pipe and catalytic converter.

The chemicals are hydrocarbon-based free radicals called semiquinones.
Similar chemicals usually degrade quickly if they float solo. But in this case, the chemicals stay attached to the nanoparticles, and they linger in the air for much longer than previously thought. “To our enormous surprise, the free radicals survive hours, days, even indefinitely,” Dellinger says.

To mimic the conditions in car exhaust as it cools, Dellinger’s team used silica particles 100 nanometers wide and coated them with copper oxide. The team then exposed the particles to a hot gas — experimenting with a range of different temperatures — containing hydrocarbons typically produced in flames. All those ingredients are common in the exhaust of motor vehicles and factories.

The researchers then examined the nanoparticles with magnetic fields tuned to identify unpaired electrons, the feature that makes free radicals highly reactive and potentially dangerous for living cells.
The data showed a signature typical of free radicals and similar to that of semiquinone, a free radical found in cigarette smoke.

The free radicals, however, only showed up when the initial ingredients had been mixed together at temperatures between 200 and 600 degrees Celsius. That means free radicals are unlikely to form during the actual combustion, which takes place at higher temperatures. Instead, they would likely form once the exhaust begins to cool down.

David Pershing, a chemical engineer at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, says the findings are potentially significant for human health.

Dellinger added that more research is needed to determine not only where someone would be exposed, but also how much the body would absorb.

The exact amount of risk the pollutants pose is hard to estimate, Dellinger said during his presentation. Data on atmospheric pollution provided by the Electric Power Research Institute of Palo Alto, Calif., suggests that the risk could be equivalent to smoking as little as one cigarette a day or as much as more than two packs a day, he said. “It’s early in the game, and there’s a lot of ways of doing these calculations.”

The free radicals discovered by Dellinger’s team would not show up in ordinary smog checks, which detect molecules in the gas state and not those attached to solid nanoparticles, he said.

Even the most modern catalytic converters may be ineffective at eliminating the free radicals. Ironically, even as a catalytic converter breaks down smog-causing pollutants, it may be creating conditions (particularly high temperatures) for the free radicals to form. “You could be destroying some [pollutants] and creating some at the same time,” Dellinger says.

Citations & References:

Lomnicki, S…. and B. Dellinger 2008. Copper oxide-based model of persistent free radical formation on combustion-derived particulate matter. Environmental Science & Technology 42(July 1):4982.

Canadian Medical Association Press Release | National Illness Costs of Air Pollution


New CMA Report Warns Poor Air Quality Killing Canadians

OTTAWA, August 13, 2008 – The Canadian Medical Association released staggering new data today showing that this year alone as many as 21,000 Canadians will die prematurely from the effects of air pollution. While most of those deaths will be due to chronic exposure over a number of years, almost 3,000 will be the result of acute, short-term exposure.

The CMA’s report entitled No Breathing Room: National Illness Costs of Air Pollution, shows the effects of poor air quality based on the concentrations of two highly predictive pollutants – ozone and particulate matter – on four distinct age groups of Canadians.

“With the start of the Olympics in Beijing, much has been made about the poor air quality in China and the effect it is having on our athletes,” said CMA President Dr. Brian Day. “But we have a serious home-grown pollution problem right here and Canadians, ranging from the very young to the very old, are paying the price.”

Specific findings of the No Breathing Room: National Illness Costs of Air Pollution report include:

  • By 2031, almost 90,000 Canadians will have died from the acute short-term effects of air pollution. The number of deaths, due to long-term exposure, will be over 700,000 – the population of Quebec City.
  • In 2008, 80% of those who die due to air pollution will be over age 65.
  • In 2008, 25 Canadians under age 19 will die of the effects of short-term exposure to air pollution.
  • Ontario and Quebec residents are the worst hit Canadians, with 70% of the premature deaths occurring in Central Canada, even though these two provinces comprise only 62% of Canada’s population.
  • In 2008 there will be over 9,000 hospital visits, 30,000 emergency department visits and 620,000 doctor’s office visits due to air pollution.
  • The economic costs of air pollution in 2008 will top $8 billion. By 2031, they will have accumulated to over $250 billion.

“This report shows for the first time the tragic effects of the toxic air that we breathe, whether it is in my hometown of Vancouver, or across the country in St. John’s,” added Dr. Day.

No Breathing Room: National Illness Costs of Air Pollution used a software model first developed by the Ontario Medical Association and provides detailed health and economic data relating to changes in air quality. The study uses the best available knowledge and data on air quality, human health and economics to produce accurate forecasts of health impacts and expected costs related to changes in air quality. The tool has also been validated by a panel of international experts on health and the environment.

The full report, including provincial data and tables, is available at www.cma.ca

For more information:
Contact: Lucie Boileau
Tel. 1800 663-7336 x1266, or 613 731-8610 x1266

http://www.cma.ca/index.cfm/ci_id/86830/la_id/1.htm

Vancouver Idling Bylaw as Proposed by Richard Stanwick | Chief Medical Officer | June 12th 2008

Provided by Richard Stanwick | Chief Medical Health Officer | Vancouver Island Health Authority | #430 – 1900 Richmond Avenue | Victoria, BC V8R 4R2

vancouver-bylaw

vancouver-crd-bylaw-3533-idling-control

vancouver-gvrd-modelmunicipalanti-idlingbylaw

idling-bylaws-vancouver

Website: http://www.viha.ca/mho

Staff Recommendations Revised | July 15th 2008

Changes proposed by planning staff, actually, one person, Gregg Barrett, for the July 15th, 2008 meeting.

As you will see, the previous requirement to amend the official plan before an application for a drive-through could be considered if it was not listed as permitted use in the plan has been removed.

oz-5304-finalopandby-law

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.