Most of the world’s population will be subject to degraded air quality in 2050 if man-made emissions continue as usual. In this ‘business-as-usual’ scenario, the average world citizen 40 years from now will experience similar air pollution to that of today’s average East Asian citizen. These conclusions are those of a study published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, an Open Access journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).
Air pollution is a major health risk that may worsen with increasing industrial activity. At present, urban outdoor air pollution causes 1.3 million estimated deaths per year worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation .
“Strong actions and further effective legislation are essential to avoid the drastic deterioration of air quality, which can have severe effects on human health,” concludes the team of scientists, led by Andrea Pozzer of the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Italy (now at the Max Planck Institute of Chemistry in Germany), in the new paper.
The researchers studied the impact of man-made emissions on air quality, assuming past emission trends continue and no additional climate change and air pollution reduction measures (beyond what is in place since 2005) are implemented. They point out that, while pessimistic, the global emissions trends indicate such continuation…
The analysis now published is the first to include all five major air pollutants know to negatively impact human health: PM2.5, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, ozone, and carbon monoxide. The scientists considered pollutants released through human activity, as well as those occurring naturally such as desert dust, sea spray, or volcanic emissions.
Taking all pollutants into account, eastern China, northern India, the Middle East, and North Africa are projected to have the world’s poorest air quality in the future. In the latter locations this is due to a combination of natural desert dust and man-induced ozone. The effect of anthropogenic pollution emissions are predicted to be most harmful in East and South Asia, where air pollution is projected to triple compared to current levels.
- Air Pollution (MedlinePlus) with links to overviews, specific conditions, related issues, organizations, and more
- EPA Office of Air and Radiation
- WHO- Air Quality and Health
- Urban Outdoor Air Pollution Causes An Estimated 1.3 Million Deaths Per Year Worldwide (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Air pollution: should it stop you exercising? (guardian.co.uk)
- Cut emissions further or face risks of high air pollution, study shows (terradaily.com)
- Cut emissions further or face risks of high air pollution, study shows (esciencenews.com)
- Air Pollution Found to Cause Anxiety And Depression In Children (greenerideal.com)
- Report: World’s air pollution could be as bad as China’s by 2050 without urgent action from governments (rtcc.org)
- Cut emissions further or face risks of high air pollution, study shows (phys.org)
- Calling for Environmental Health Solutions in Cities (newswatch.nationalgeographic.com)
- California looks to a greener future: Transportation plans look promising (electrocorpairpurification.wordpress.com)
Trees, bushes and other greenery growing in the concrete-and-glass canyons of cities can reduce levels of two of the most worrisome air pollutants by eight times more than previously believed, a new study has found. A report on the research appears in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology. ..
..The study concluded that judicious placement of grass, climbing ivy and other plants in urban canyons can reduce the concentration at street level of NO2 by as much as 40 percent and PM by 60 percent, much more than previously believed. The authors even suggest building plant-covered “green billboards” in these urban canyons to increase the amount of foliage. Trees were also shown to be effective, but only if care is taken to avoid trapping pollutants beneath their crowns…
- Green plants reduce city street pollution up to 8 times more than previously believed (esciencenews.com)
- Plants reduce city street pollution 8 times more than thought (news.bioscholar.com)
- Green plants reduce city street pollution up to eight times more than previously believed (phys.org)
- Green plants reduce city street pollution up to eight times more than previously believed (terradaily.com)
- Green plants reduce city street pollution up to 8 times more than previously believed (eurekalert.org)
- The Creation of ‘Green Streets’ Could Cut UK Pollution By Up To 30% (inhabitat.com)
- ‘Green streets can cut pollution’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Trees And Bushes Cut City Pollution (futurepundit.com)
- Green Walls Could Reduce Air Pollution in Urban Areas by 30% (news.softpedia.com)
- Anti-pollution protesters halt construction of copper plant in China (bfreenews.com)
The 2012 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) (99 page pdf, Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, Yale University, Center for International Earth Science Information Network, Columbia University, 2012)
Also discussed here: New Rankings on Environmental Performance (The Dirt, ASLA, Jun. 5, 2012)
The Environmental Performance Index assesses the relative progress of 132 countries with 22 performance indicators. The 2012 ranking showed Switzerland, Latvia and Norway at the top, Canada in 37th position and the USA, 49th.
Pollution Levels in Some Kitchens Are Higher Than City-Center Hotspots (Downside to Energy Efficiency?)
A study by the University of Sheffield has found that the air we breathe inside our own homes can have pollutant levels three times higher than the outdoor environment, in city centres and along busy road
Researchers from the University’s Faculty of Engineering measured air quality inside and outside three residential buildings with different types of energy use (gas vs. electric cookers). They found that nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels in the kitchen of the city centre flat with a gas cooker were three times higher than the concentrations measured outside the property and well above those recommended in UK Indoor Air Quality Guidance1. These findings are published in the Journal of Indoor and Built Environment.
“We spend 90 per cent of our time indoors and work hard to make our homes warm, secure and comfortable, but we rarely think about the pollution we might be breathing in,” said Professor Vida Sharifi, who led the research. “Energy is just one source of indoor pollution, but it is a significant one. And as we make our homes more airtight to reduce heating costs, we are likely to be exposed to higher levels of indoor pollution, with potential impacts on our health.”…
- Study shows pollution levels in some kitchens are higher than city-center hotspots (eurekalert.org)
- Effects of indoor pollution studied (todayonline.com)
- Pollution Levels In Some Kitchens Are Higher Than City-Center Hotspots (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Study shows pollution levels in some kitchens are higher than city-center hotspots (phys.org)
- Your kitchen could have worse air pollution than a city centre street: research (telegraph.co.uk)
- Slaving over hot stove in stuffy kitchen could be more dangerous than standing in smog-filled street (dailymail.co.uk)
- Gas Stove Tops Make Kitchens Three Times as Polluted as Highways [Factoid] (gizmodo.com)
Pollution, Crime, and Education by Mike the Mad Biologist (And a Somewhat Related Mental Health Study)
This short blog entry points to examples of how there is most likely links between air pollution and brain development and function. For example a recent study indicates schools in areas of high air pollution have higher rates of absenteeism. Crime rates have gone down in areas where lead removal was a high priority.
While it can be argued there is no cause and effect in these cases, correlations do warrant further study.
Past blogs here have included articles on the interconnection between healthy environments and healthy people. In my humble opinion, it just makes sense that if one lives in surroundings with high risk factors, one will develop conditions and diseases one is predisposed to (and perhaps more!).
A related article in the professional literature examines the links between mental health and neighborhoods.While it does not address pollution, it does have a similar holistic approach in considering the many factors which may affect a person’s health and well being.
The authors conclusion-
This study has shown that for people living in deprived areas, the quality and aesthetics of housing and neighbourhoods are associated with mental wellbeing, but so too are feelings of respect, status and progress that may be derived from how places are created, serviced and talked about by those who live there. The implication for regeneration activities undertaken to improve housing and neighbourhoods is that it is not just the delivery of improved housing that is important for mental wellbeing, but also the quality and manner of delivery.
- Hidden risk: Mercury pollution’s costs to wildlife and people (grist.org)
- Designing Healthy Communities — Improving our nation’s public health by re-designing and restoring our built environment (jflahiff.wordpress.com)
- Ecocide Act–the next step toward international environmental protection? « Public Health Perspectives (jflahiff.wordpress.com)
- Environment And Diet Leave Their Prints On The Heart (jflahiff.wordpress.com)
- NIH Launches Research Program to Explore Health Effects from Climate Change (jflahiff.wordpress.com)
- Asthma rate and costs from traffic-related air pollution are much higher than once believed (nextbigfuture.com)
- Pollution and evolution: Waters of change | The Economist (policyabcs.wordpress.com)
Excerpts from the press release
Interdisciplinary panel reviews US nitrogen pollution trends, risks, and mitigation strategies
Nitrogen is both an essential nutrient and a pollutant, a byproduct of fossil fuel combustion and a fertilizer that feeds billions, a benefit and a hazard, depending on form, location, and quantity. Agriculture, industry and transportation have spread nitrogen liberally around the planet, say sixteen scientists in the latest edition of ESA’s Issues in Ecology series, “Excess Nitrogen in the U.S. Environment: Trends, Risks, and Solutions,” with complex and interrelated consequences for ecological communities and our dependence upon the resources they provide, as well as human health.
Pulling from a broad pool of expertise in air quality, agronomy, ecology, epidemiology and groundwater geochemistry, the sixteen authors track nitrogen through its different chemical forms and biological incarnations as it progresses across economic, environmental and regulatory bounds. They argue for a systematic, rather than piecemeal, approach to managing the resource and its consequences. “We’re really trying to identify solutions,” said lead author Eric Davidson, a soil ecologist and executive director of the Woods Hole Research Center. “This is a paper about how much we do know, not about what we don’t know. We know about nitrogen cycles, and sources, and we know problems can be addressed in economically viable ways.”…
The report tabulates strategies to help farmers maximize efficient use of fertilizer, rather than just maximize crop yield, including buffer strips and wetlands, manure management, and ideal patterns of fertilizer application. It also considers the cost of implementing them, and programs for buffering farmers against losses in bad years.
“There are a variety of impacts due to the human use of nitrogen,” said Galloway. “The biggest is a positive one, in that it allows us to grow food for Americans and people in other countries, and we don’t want to lose sight of that.” Balancing inexpensive abundant food against the damage done by nitrogen escaping into the environment is a conversation the authors would like to hear more prominently in policy arenas.
“Yes, we have to feed people, but we also need clean drinking water, clean air, and fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Davidson. “The science helps to show those tradeoffs, and where we most stand to gain from improved nutrient management in agriculture.”…
- New report reviews US nitrogen pollution impacts and solutions (eurekalert.org)
- Earth’s nitrogen cycle profoundly affected by humans (summitcountyvoice.com)
- Nitrogen pollution building in remote wilderness lakes (summitcountyvoice.com)
- Using air pollution thresholds to protect and restore ecosystem health (eurekalert.org)
- Soil test could reduce nitrogen pollution (cbc.ca)
- Nitrogen Air Pollution is Fertilizing Tropical Forests (treehugger.com)
- Researchers assess effects of a world awash in nitrogen (scienceblog.com)