Air pollution can hinder heart’s electrical functioning

Source: American Heart Association
Published Sep. 15, 2008

Microscopic particles in polluted air can adversely affect the heart’s ability to conduct electrical signals in people with serious coronary artery disease, researchers reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

In a recent study of 48 Boston-area patients, all of whom had coronary artery disease, 24-hour Holter monitors were used to examine electrocardiograms for the conductivity change called an ST-segment depression, which may indicate inadequate blood flow to the heart or inflamed heart muscle.

The average 24-hour levels for all pollutants included in the analysis were below accepted or proposed National Air Quality Standard thresholds, meaning patients were breathing air considered healthy.

“We found that an elevation in fine particles, from non-traffic as well as traffic sources, and black carbon, a marker for traffic, predicted ST-segment depression,” said Diane R. Gold, M.D., M.P.H., the study’s senior author and an associate professor of medicine and environmental health at Harvard University in Boston, Mass. “Effects were greatest within the first month after hospitalization, and for patients who were hospitalized for a heart attack or had diabetes.”

Previous studies have documented that exposure to road traffic can trigger heart attacks, and that particulate air pollution increases the risk for cardiac death or heart attack.

“When coal sales were banned in Dublin, Ireland, and black smoke concentrations declined by 70 percent within the next 72 months, cardiovascular deaths fell by 10 percent,” said Gold, citing a study published in 2002.

The ST-segment changes Gold observed were not associated with symptoms in these patients, all of whom had experienced in-hospital procedures to examine or open up their coronary arteries.

Nevertheless, the findings expand the evidence that air pollution can affect heart health, either through inflaming the heart muscle or through reducing blood flow to the heart. It suggests the need for greater vigilance by physicians and heart patients in the weeks after discharge from the hospital, researchers said.

The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recommend that some heart patients, particularly those who have had a heart attack, delay driving for two to three weeks after leaving the hospital and avoid driving in heavy traffic because of the stress it creates.

“Our study provides additional rationale to avoid or reduce heavy traffic exposure after discharge, even for those without a heart attack, since traffic exposure involves pollution exposure as well as stress,” she said.

The study’s 48 participants had been hospitalized for either a heart attack, unstable angina or worsening symptoms of stable coronary artery disease. Their median age was 57 years, 81 percent were male, 40 percent had suffered a heart attack and 25 percent had diabetes.

Researchers visited the patients two to four weeks after their discharge, and then three more times at approximately three-month intervals. At each visit, a portable electrocardiograph called a Holter monitor recorded the patients’ heart activity for 24 hours. All participants were monitored on the first visit, and 35 had monitoring on more than one visit. Researchers averaged monitor readings over each half-hour, providing 5,979 half-hour observations. They then examined the relation of these ECG measurements with levels of several pollutants, including black carbon, produced by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, and particulate matter (PM2.5) of less than 2.5 micrometers (about 1/10,000th of an inch) in diameter.

Researchers obtained the PM2.5 and black carbon readings at a Harvard School of Public Health monitoring site, an average distance of 10.9 miles from the participants’ homes.

Among the study’s findings:

  • Increased levels of particular pollution – PM2.5 and black carbon (a marker for traffic exhaust) – were associated with ST-segment depression in the study participants.
  • Sulfur dioxide, a pollutant that can have non-traffic sources, also was associated with ST-segment depression.
  • No significant correlation was found between ST-segment depression and increased levels of carbon monoxide, but levels of this pollutant were low in this study.
  • Patients recovering from a heart attack had greater changes in ST segment depression on electrocardiograms compared to other participants.

The key question remains – how breathing air polluted by PM2.5 and black carbon might cause ST segment depression.

“Further research is needed to evaluate whether the pollution-related ST-segment depression that we see is related to increased heart muscle inflammation, reduced oxygen flow, oxidative stress, or increased risk of arrhythmias,” Gold said.

“We think that our findings, which are definitely subclinical, may represent a process that increases clinical risk for people with symptomatic coronary artery disease,” she said.

Co-authors are: Kai Jen Chuang, Ph.D.; Brent A. Coull, Ph.D.; Antonella Zanobetti, Ph.D.; Helen Suh, Sc.D.; Joel Schwartz, Ph.D.; Peter H. Stone, M.D.; Augusto Litonjua, M.D.; and Frank E. Speizer, M.D. Individual author disclosures can be found on the manuscript.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Services, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Science Council funded the study.

‘I think it’s important to get out of the car and go inside’

Cave Creek sticks to its guns on slower-paced lifestyle

By Linda Bentley | September 24, 2008

‘I think it’s important to get out of the car and go inside’
CAVE CREEK – Parkway Bank didn’t fare much better than the previous applicant during Thursday night’s planning commission meeting with its renewed request for a special use permit (SUP) to allow drive-through customer service.

Planning Director Ian Cordwell noted during his introduction, “The building was originally designed to have a drive-through facility as an integral part of the structure. Even though the use was denied, the structure was built as planned.”

On behalf of the applicant, Robin Lorenz brought some renderings to illustrate how “unobtrusive” the drive-through would be.

During public comment Anna Marsolo said she had the minutes from 2001, and stated, “The concerns then should be the same as now. The main concern was the precedent it would set for drive-throughs. Vice Mayor Mozilo said it was a life-style choice.”

Referring to the fact the SUP had been previously turned down, Charlie Spitzer said, “This reminds me of when my kids were little. They’d go ask mom if they didn’t like the answer they got from dad.”

Shea Stanfield said, “I was on the council that voted this down in 2001. Most of us were committed to no drive-throughs. We wanted a walking kind of town.”

Implying the bank was employing an “if we wait long enough faces change” strategy, Stanfield deadpanned, “If we wait long enough there won’t be any more banks,” and said, “I hope we can hold the line on this one.”

Herb Natker said, “I’d like to reiterate what the speakers said before me. It would set a precedent. We don’t need it … I hope you deny this.”

Kathryn Bosco, Parkway Bank’s branch manager, said, “There’s no one left waiting for faces to change.”

Citing Cave Creek was Parkway’s busiest branch with the largest number of transactions each month, Bosco stated more pollution is created by starting and stopping a vehicle than by idling for a few minutes.

Bosco stated her concerns were for Parkway’s customers, being able to provide them with this service, and said she has a petition people have signed in support of a drive-through.
Commissioner Steve LaMar moved to approve recommendation for the SUP, but only “for the sake of discussion,” and said, “As far as drive-throughs go, I don’t have a problem with the design or function. The problem I have is the same as in 2001. There are a lot of national corporations wanting to locate in Cave Creek that all want drive-throughs.

“It’s the difference between Cave Creek and other towns,” said LaMar, adding, “I wish we were more unique.”

Commissioner Bill Allen said, “I’ve banked at Parkway Bank since it opened. I think it’s important to get out of the car and go inside … The bank is an important contribution to the town, but I don’t support a drive-through.”

Commissioner Reg Monachino said, “If we grant this we’d have to grant it to others. We’d be no different than Bell Road.”

“I have mixed emotions,” said Chairman Ted Bryda. Even though the town has the right to turn down others on a case-by-case basis, he said, “We can still end up in litigation.”

The commission voted 1-4 against the SUP with Commissioner Dan Baxley voting in favor.
Cordwell announced there will be four major general plan amendments reviewed during the Oct. 16 planning commission meeting. The rezoning of approximately 11 square miles of state land within the proposed annexation area is scheduled to be heard on Nov. 6 and a nonconforming use case scheduled for Nov. 20.

Banning drive-thrus in Madison worthwhile

By: Emily Houtler /The Daily Cardinal  – September 16, 2008

Recent proposal to ban drive-thrus in Madison deserves greater consideration

I wonder why much of the world considers Americans lazy. Maybe it is because dead batteries in a remote control have reduced some to tears. Perhaps it is the fact that nearly a quarter of American adults are completely physically inactive by choice. Or maybe it is because they simply do not have the decency to get out of their car to order and pick up their venti iced vanilla latte.

If it were up to a Madison planning committee, no one would need to worry about that last one. If some in the committee could have their way, Madison would be a drive-thru free city, and life would subsequently be better for both the environment and residents of Madison.

Late this past June, Eric Sundquist, a member of Madison’s Plan Commission, proposed the idea that the city of Madison should consider banning restaurant drive-thrus. Several Canadian cities have implemented similar measures because of their environmental impact, and recently San Luis Obispo, Calif., followed suit.

Such a proposal is a smart plan for numerous reasons. First, there is the environmental aspect. Vehicles, whether idling in a fast food drive-thru lane or rushing down the Beltline, release harmful gases and exhaust. However, when a car is moving, these gases at least achieve the objective of moving a vehicle toward a destination. Automobiles that sit idle in drive-thrus, sometimes for more than 20 minutes, are simply polluting. There is no other excuse. Imagine if the pollution created from the hours spent in drive-thrus every day was eliminated. It certainly would likely improve the quality of the city air at least a modest amount. Additionally, with the rash of hurricanes hitting the southern United States recently and through the rest of the season, oil refineries all along the coast have been forced to shut down. With a minor gas shortage, it is far more important for our domestic fuel to be put to better use than waiting in line for hamburgers.

Exiling drive-thrus would also save many people large amounts of frustration. Having been on both sides of a drive-thru speaker, I know how aggravating the system can be. No speaker, electronic or human, is flawless. It always seems that more mistakes are made on drive-thru orders than on counter orders due to many reasons, including the inability of many Americans to articulate properly further distorted by a faulty microphone system. It is also more difficult to rectify errors made while in the drive-thru lane owing to the volume of idling cars and the nearly impossible speed expected of employees of said establishment.

Further, in today’s volatile market, some might worry that taking away drive-thrus would be bad for business. Although it is true that drive-thrus usually do have a steady supply of customers, these people would likely still frequent these establishments, especially if everyone in the city closed their drive-thrus. With gas prices as they are, no sane person would drive outside of Madison just to use a drive-thru to get their meal. The manner of service, not the product or employees, would be changed by the exclusion of drive-thrus.

Several questions still surround the issue, such as grandfathering current drive-thrus and accommodating drive-thru pharmacies. Nonetheless, this subject deserves serious consideration, and the issue was swept aside by the committee far too quickly. In a city known for its progressive measures for both humanity and the environment, this is a ban that should be passed in Madison. At the very least, Madison would be wise to implement a restriction on the number of drive-thrus allotted in a city that lacks the infrastructure to support a large number of automobiles.

Republican US Representative recommends eliminating drive thru windows

Barack Hussien Obama gets ridiculed for reminding people to keep tires properly inflated then a Republican US Representative not only checking tire inflation, but also this gem—eliminating drive thru windows.…-conserve-gas/

Ordinance banning drive-throughs carried to Sept. 22 council meeting

by Stacey McEvoy/Independent Press

Tuesday September 16, 2008, 6:39 PM

MADISON — The Borough Council will carry an ordinance to the Sept. 22 council meeting that would amend a land development ordinance of the borough’s code, which would prohibit drive-throughs in two business districts, the CBD-1 and CBD-2 zones.
Among other properties, the ordinance would affect the property on the corner of Main Street and Greenwood Avenue, where the former Exxon-Mobil gas station was located three years ago and now stands vacant.
Rocco Iossa, the contract purchaser of the property, said that he has been working on the site for the past two-and-a-half years to make it an asset to the town, adding that he cared deeply about happens in the town.

Mr. Iossa and Exxon-Mobil’s attorney Peter Wolfson of Porzio, Bromberg and Newman of Morristown, attended the council meeting to implore the governing body “to defer the ordinance to allow Exxon (the property owner) to understand what is being proposed,” said Mr. Wolfson.
Mr. Iossa said that he had presented his plans for the property to the town on Aug. 11 and that now “the town is changing the rules…changing rules when an applicant has invested large sums and time…it’s grossly unfair.” He said that he understood the town wanting to promote pedestrian traffic, but asserted that putting in a drive-through at the site would have “no impact to pedestrian traffic.”
Mayor Mary-Ann Holden said that the ordinance was not targeted to any property, pointing out that the drive through issue goes back three years with Provident Bank. “Bank drive throughs are prohibited,” she said.
“The coincidence and timing is mind-boggling,” said Mr. Iossa, noting that he had a full application before the Planning Board submitted on Aug. 11 and that his Sept. 2 hearing was coincidentally cancelled and re-scheduled for Sept. 16.
Mayor Holden said that nothing precludes an applicant from seeking a variance to show hardship.
Borough Attorney Joseph Mezzacca noted that an ordinance examines a whole zone; not individual properties.
“We’ve finally gotten Exxon’s attention to have a conversation,” said Councilman John Elias, adding that everyone is concerned with the block in question. He suggested that the ordinance be brought to the next council meeting so that the council could work with the principals of the property and look at the area on a global basis to include the surrounding areas. “I think we would all be better served–to see if there is any benefit to be gained.”
Councilman Robert Conley agreed with Councilman Elias’s suggestion so that people could understand the implications of the ordinance. He also asked the borough attorney if the property could become a gas station again to which Mr. Mezzacca said, “Not likely.”
Councilwoman Jeanne Tsukamoto said she was concerned with the “changing of the rules” that Mr. Iossa spoke about.
Mr. Mezzacca said, “Any time an ordinance changes, it does change the rules. It is legal. Applications can be in different stages. It’s the way it is.”
“Why now since this has been going on for three years? What’s another two weeks?” said Councilman Vincent Esposito. “A drive through might not be bad to help build up our town.”
“This has dragged on for years and years,” said Mayor Holden. “We’re just trying to get it cleaned up.”
Councilman Elias put a motion to carry the ordinance for two weeks, Councilwoman Carmela Vitale seconded it and the council voted unanimously in favor of the motion.
Mayor Holden looked to Mr. Wolfson and requested that the discussions move forward very soon — “like tomorrow,” she said.

Tim Hortons joins drive-thru debate | Kitchener


Mercury news services
September 12, 2008

Terry Pender
Mercury news services


Tim Hortons went on the offensive yesterday against a possible ban on future drive-thrus in the city.

“If you get rid of drive-thrus, the cars keep coming, and the cars will move to the parking lots,” Nick Javor, a Tim Hortons senior vice-president, warned the environmental advisory committee.

And if cars shift from drive-thru lines to parking lots, it will mean more air pollution, not less, according to a study commissioned by the company.

The study measured vehicle emissions at Tim Hortons in Hamilton, Ottawa and Mississauga — two with drive-thrus and one with no drive-thru.

Study author Mike Lepage of Guelph-based RWDI concluded the public will get no better air-quality if drive-thrus are banned.

In late 2007, Kitchener city staff proposed several options for drive-thrus, ranging from changing their design to not allowing any more.

In response, Tim Hortons said it had a scientific report refuting the perception idling vehicles in drive-thus are a large source of air pollution.

Yesterday, the environmental advisory committee was briefed on the findings:

A car parked for 3.5 minutes to seven minutes and then restarted emits 0.6 grams of smog-related pollutants, 9.9 grams of carbon monoxide and 5.6 grams of carbon dioxide.

A vehicle idling in a drive-thru emits 0.3 grams of smog-related pollutants a minute, 3.4 grams of carbon monoxide and 34 grams of carbon dioxide.

Vehicles crawling through parking lots at up to 10 km/h to reach the drive-thru queue emit 0.4 grams of smog-related pollutants per minute, 3.7 grams of carbon monoxide and 75 grams of carbon dioxide.

The measurements were made in the morning, when drive-thru business peaked at 224 cars an hour.

Tim Hortons operates 1,700 drive-thrus across the country, with those outlets doing half their business at the window.

Lepage said emissions at the drive-thrus account for 0.21 per cent of the greenhouse gases generated by light-duty cars and trucks.

“Drive-thrus are a small part of motor vehicle emissions,” he said.

A single chainsaw causes more pollution than a single drive-thru, he said.

Committee member George Zador said the chainsaw argument was like saying Idi Amin wasn’t so bad because Hitler was worse.

Councillor Berry Vrbanovic, who chairs the advisory committee, wondered how Lepage would counter critics who say his study is biased because Tim Hortons paid for it.

This is why another scientist — chemical engineer Deniz Karman of Carleton University in Ottawa — was asked to review the study, Lepage said. The study has also been submitted to a peer-reviewed journal for publication.

Mark Peterson, a member of the committee, was impressed.

“To hammer away at Tim Hortons may be the wrong direction to be going,” he said. The problems are car-dependent cities and lifestyles, not drive-thrus, he said.

Javor, of Tim Hortons, made a similar argument.

“The answer is very simple,” he said. “Get rid of the car. Getting rid of the car will get rid of all of the emissions, all of the exhaust and all of the problem pollutants we are talking about.”

Committee members asked city staff study the issue and report back on options.