Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Traffic -Related Air Pollution and Heart Rate Variability

Range Rover, Honda Civic, Toyota Rav4 and VW G...
Range Rover, Honda Civic, Toyota Rav4 and VW Golf over Carlos Lazo Avenue, Santa Fe, Mexico City. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Traffic-related air pollution exposures and changes in heart rate variability in Mexico City: A panel study (26 page pdf, Kyra Naumoff Shields, Jennifer M Cavallari, Megan J Hunt, Mariana Lazo, Mario Molina, Luisa Molina and Fernando Holguin, Environmental Health, Jan. 18, 2013) 

Today we review an article that looked at the impact of exposure to traffic emissions over several hours on heart rate variability. Results indicate that traffic can cause acute changes in HRV which in turn has an impact on heart disease and premature death, especially for older people.

Key Quotes: 

 “we examined associations between personal exposures to traffic-related air pollutants in Mexico City and changes in heart rate variability (HRV)” 

“Short-term PM exposures have been linked to acute cardiovascular events including increased odds of having a myocardial infarction, cardiac arrhythmia, and venous thrombosis, while long-term exposure to PM has been associated with increased risk and progression of atherosclerosis” 

"higher PM concentrations have been associated with decreased HRV in elderly populations and in patients with current or underlying cardiovascular disease” 

“Short-term exposure to traffic-related emissions was associated with significant acute changes in HRV in this panel study” 

“While having a reduced HRV is a risk factor for increased cardiovascular mortality; it is yet to be shown whether short-term environmental exposures associated with acute HRV changes can lead to cardiac arrhythmias in humans.”
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Monday, February 25, 2013

The Global Impact of Air Pollution on Health

A comparative risk assessment of burden of disease and injury attributable to 67 risk factors and risk factor clusters in 21 regions, 1990–2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 (37 page pdf, Stephen S Lim, Theo Vos, Abraham D Flaxman, Goodarz Danaei, Kenji Shibuya, Heather Adair-Rohani, Markus Amann, H Ross Anderson, Kathryn G Andrews, Martin Aryee, Charles Atkinson, Loraine J Bacchus, Adil N Bahalim, Kalpana Balakrishnan, John Balmes, Suzanne Barker-Collo, Amanda Baxter, Michelle L Bell, Jed D Blore, Fiona Blyth, Carissa Bonner, Guilherme Borges, Rupert Bourne, Michel Boussinesq, Michael Brauer, Peter Brooks, Nigel G Bruce, Bert Brunekreef, Claire Bryan-Hancock, Chiara Bucello, Rachelle Buchbinder, Fiona Bull, Richard T Burnett, Tim E Byers, Bianca Calabria, Jonathan Carapetis, Emily Carnahan, Zoe Chafe, Fiona Charlson, Honglei Chen, Jian Shen Chen, Andrew Tai-Ann Cheng, Jennifer Christine Child, Aaron Cohen, K Ellicott Colson, Benjamin C Cowie, Sarah Darby, Susan Darling, Adrian Davis, Louisa Degenhardt, Frank Dentener, Don C Des Jarlais, Karen Devries, Mukesh Dherani, Eric L Ding, E Ray Dorsey, Tim Driscoll, Karen Edmond, Suad Eltahir Ali, Rebecca E Engell, Patricia J Erwin, Saman Fahimi, Gail Falder, Farshad Farzadfar, Alize Ferrari, Mariel M Finucane, Seth Flaxman, Francis Gerry R Fowkes, Greg Freedman, Michael K Freeman, Emmanuela Gakidou, Santu Ghosh, Edward Giovannucci, Gerhard Gmel, Kathryn Graham, Rebecca Grainger, Bridget Grant, David Gunnell, Hialy R Gutierrez, Wayne Hall, Hans W Hoek, Anthony Hogan, H Dean Hosgood III, Damian Hoy, Howard Hu, Bryan J Hubbell, Sally J Hutchings, Sydney E Ibeanusi, Gemma L Jacklyn, Rashmi Jasrasaria, Jost B Jonas, Haidong Kan, John A Kanis, Nicholas Kassebaum, Norito Kawakami, Young-Ho Khang, Shahab Khatibzadeh, Jon-Paul Khoo, Cindy Kok, Francine Laden, Ratilal Lalloo, Qing Lan, Tim Lathlean, Janet L Leasher, James Leigh, Yang Li, John Kent Lin, Steven E Lipshultz, Stephanie London, Rafael Lozano, Yuan Lu, Joelle Mak, Reza Malekzadeh, Leslie Mallinger, Wagner Marcenes, Lyn March, Robin Marks, Randall Martin, Paul McGale, John McGrath, Sumi Mehta, George A Mensah, Tony R Merriman, Renata Micha, Catherine Michaud, Vinod Mishra, Khayriyyah Mohd Hanafi ah, Ali A Mokdad, Lidia Morawska, Dariush Mozaff arian, Tasha Murphy, Mohsen Naghavi, Bruce Neal, Paul K Nelson, Joan Miquel Nolla, Rosana Norman, Casey Olives, Saad B Omer, Jessica Orchard, Richard Osborne, Bart Ostro, Andrew Page, Kiran D Pandey, Charles D H Parry, Erin Passmore, Jayadeep Patra, Neil Pearce, Pamela M Pelizzari, Max Petzold, Michael R Phillips, Dan Pope, C Arden Pope III, John Powles, Mayuree Rao, Homie Razavi, Eva A Rehfuess, Jürgen T Rehm, Beate Ritz, Frederick P Rivara, Thomas Roberts, Carolyn Robinson, Jose A Rodriguez-Portales, Isabelle Romieu, Robin Room, Lisa C Rosenfeld, Ananya Roy, Lesley Rushton, Joshua A Salomon, Uchechukwu Sampson, Lidia Sanchez-Riera, Ella Sanman, Amir Sapkota, Soraya Seedat, Peilin Shi, Kevin Shield, Rupak Shivakoti, Gitanjali M Singh, David A Sleet, Emma Smith, Kirk R Smith, Nicolas J C Stapelberg, Kyle Steenland, Heidi Stöckl, Lars Jacob Stovner, Kurt Straif, Lahn Straney, George D Thurston, Jimmy H Tran, Rita Van Dingenen, Aaron van Donkelaar, J Lennert Veerman, Lakshmi Vijayakumar, Robert Weintraub, Myrna M Weissman, Richard A White, Harvey Whiteford, Steven T Wiersma, James D Wilkinson, Hywel C Williams, Warwick Williams, Nicholas Wilson, Anthony D Woolf, Paul Yip, Jan M Zielinski, Alan D Lopez†, Christopher J L Murray†, Majid Ezzati, Lancet, Dec. 2012)

Also discussed here: Beijing is not the only Asian city with lethal air pollution - The Chinese capital is just one of hundreds of cities where poisonous air is the fastest growing cause of death(Guardian, Jan. 17, 2013)

Today we review a massive global assessment of causes of death from a variety of factors or risks and how these have changed in time and by region or location. The impact of the population shifts toward cities and the increase in sheer numbers of cars in those cities highlighted the growth of air pollution and associated health impacts, especially in large Asian cities, such as Beijing. Overall, the number of deaths attributed to air pollution have quadrupled over the last decade from 800,000 (2000) to 3.2 million (2010) and air pollution, for the first time, is listed as one of the top ten killer diseases.

 GBD and Aq  

Key Quotes:

“Beijing is just one of hundreds of cities, largely in Asia, where poisonous air is now the fastest growing cause of death in urban populations” “doctors will tell you that up to 80% of people admitted come with respiratory or other chronic diseases linked to air pollution”

 “worldwide, a record 3.2 million people died from air pollution in 2010, compared with 800,000 in 2000. The annual Global Burden of Disease (GBD) report ranked air pollution for the first time in the world's top 10 list of killer diseases, with 1.2 million deaths a year in east Asia and China, and 712,000 in south Asia, including India.”

“Improvements in car and fuel technology have been made since 2000 but these are nullified by the sheer increase in car numbers. Nearly 18m cars are expected to be sold this year alone in India.”

“almost one third of Europe's city dwellers are exposed to PM10 particulate concentrations above EU legal limits and 90-95% to concentrations of smaller and even more deadly PM2.5 particulates.”

“if we do nothing, we will see 200,000 premature deaths in the EU by 2020 due to particle emissions alone - but with concerted action, this number can be pushed down to 130,000.”

“we compiled study-level estimates of the RR of mortality associated with any or all of ambient air pollution, second-hand smoke, household air pollution, and active smoking for the following outcomes: ischaemic heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and acute lower respiratory tract infection in children”

“Household air pollution is an important contributor to ambient particulate matter pollution; we estimate that it accounted for 16% of the worldwide burden from ambient particulate matter pollution in 2010. The effects of ambient ozone pollution, which increases the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, were smaller than those of household air pollution from solid fuels or ambient particulate matter pollution”
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Friday, February 22, 2013

How Did Climate Skeptics and U.S. Politics Block Action on Climate Change?

Naming the Problem - What It Will Take to Counter Extremism and Engage Americans in the Fight against Global Warming(145 Page pdf, Theda Skocpol, Symposium on the Politics of America’s Fight Against Global Warming, Harvard University, Feb. 2013)

Also discussed here: Study: It's not Obama's Fault that Enviro Groups Botched the Climate Fight -A Harvard study blames the political blindness of environmental groups for failure to pass climate legislation.(Suzanne Goldenberg, Mother Jones, Jan. 15, 2013)

And here: Beyond baby steps: Analyzing the cap-and-trade flop(Bill McKibben, Grist, Jan. 14, 2013)

Today we review a paper prepared by a Harvard political scientist that analyses the trends of recent American politics which led to the successful blocking of policy and actions to mitigate climate change which had impacts far beyond North America in international conferences and protocols, despite the election of a President who ran on a platform (in 2008, not 2012) to address climate change. In looking at factors that contributed, she noted how the acid rain treaty and legislation in the late 80s (and the Montreal Ozone Protocol in 1987- the first time that an international treaty was achieved using scientific modelling) led environmental leaders to use these successes to emphasize narrow modeling and scientific solutions to address climate change.

Unfortunately as it turned out, they neglected or underestimated the need to counter the growing right wing opposition which relied almost exclusively on using the media to undermine the scientific bases and broaden its public appeal. She gives some hope for progressive climate legislation after 2016, provided broad public support is cultivated. As a side note, the same shift occurred to the north of the U.S. in Canada, hastened by the election of a government more influenced by the oil industry than its predecessor. climate skeptics  

Key Quotes:

 “By the 1990s, global warming was recognized among environmentalists as a threat to the environment very different from traditional kinds of air and water pollution. The EPA is not optimally organized to cope with such an overarching issue for the national economy, because its parts are focused on pollution in land, air, and rivers, lakes and oceans”

 “The environmental movement “actually tries to spend its money on developing solutions to climate change…. [T]hey spend hardly anything on political or cultural processes.” In contrast, the “climate change countermovement spends all of its money there.”

 "The stark truth is that severe weather events alone will not cause global warming to pop to the top of the national agenda…Fresh strategies will be needed, based on new understandings of political obstacles and opportunities."

“Skocpol attributes much of that shift to the well-funded effort by conservative think tanks to undermine climate science. The '90s and onwards saw a sharp increase in the publication of reports and books questioning climate change”

“it will be difficult for the world to move meaningfully against climate disruption if the United States does not. And it will be almost impossible for the U.S. to act if one party not only rejects the most common solution proposed for the problem (cap-and-trade) but repudiates even the idea that there is a problem to be solved.”

“Some years from now – mostly likely after 2016 – another, better-conceived legislative push for carbon capping might be able move forward, especially if it has carefully prepared, strong backing from a broad alliance constructed on the basis of a more realistic grasp of the underlying dynamics of U.S. politics.”
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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Adapting to Climate Change- A Guide

Toward Resilience - A Guide to Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation(194 page pdf, Marilise Turnbull, Charlotte L. Sterrett, Amy Hilleboe, Emergency Capacity Building Project , Jan. 2013)

Today we review a report that is aimed at adapting to climate change in developing countries with emphasis on the particular vulnerability of women and children to the disasters which are increasing as climate change and its impacts continue to intensify. Examples are given on applying ten principles which appear to be as valid for urban cities as for the case studies in rural third world countries. disasters for last century
Key Quotes:

“The guide provides essential introductory information, principals of effective practice, guidelines for action in a range of sectors and settings, case studies and links to useful tools and resources, for the application of an integrated, rights-based approach to disaster reduction and climate change adaptation.”

 “Climate change is altering the face of disaster risk, not only through increased weather related risks and sea-level and temperature rises, but also through increases in societal vulnerabilities, for example, from stresses on water availability, agriculture and ecosystems.”

"principles for an integrated approach to disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation:"
  • "Increase understanding of the hazard and climate change context
  • Increase understanding of exposure, vulnerability and capacity
  • Recognize rights and responsibilities
  • Strengthen participation of, and action by, the population at risk
  • Promote systemic engagement and change
  • Foster synergy between multiple levels
  • Instill flexibility and responsiveness
  • Address different timescales
  • Do no harm:”
“Wherever disaster risk is high for the population in general, it is likely to be higher for children…..children’s future wellbeing is also likely to be compromised by a reduction in household income, disruption to education, and loss or sickness of family members on whom they depend…Children usually make up more than half the population in vulnerable communities, urban neighborhoods and countries. Involving them in its design and implementation increases the likelihood of a resilience-building program or policy being responsive to their needs.”

‘Disaster and climate change risks are not gender-neutral. The nature and extent of their exposure and vulnerability is different for women, men, girls and boys.. Their [women’s] vulnerability may also be conditioned by cultural roles that restrict them from developing knowledge and skills that would enable them to save lives and prevent disaster losses, such as learning to swim, or participating in public meetings.“
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Monday, February 18, 2013

How Can the World deal with Climate Change and Overpopulation?

Can a collapse of global civilization be avoided?(10 page pdf, Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich, Proceedings of the Royal Society, Jan. 8, 2013) 

Today we review a paper written by ecologist Paul Ehrlich on his election to the Royal Society in 2012. He assesses the prospects for survival of human civilization as we know it, faced with overpopulation, increasing consumption of natural resources and a growing set of interacting and serious challenges that slowly but persistently threaten to overwhelm society’s ability to cope. One apt observation about this state of affairs is the difficulty in dealing with slow, almost imperceptible, changes, given that the magnitude of the responses needed become greater with time- something that many short term political thinkers have difficulty with. 

This leads to the suggestion for “foresight intelligence”- an approach that looks at the various scenarios possible or likely and where these lead so that the re4sults of various policies can be evaluated in advance. It strikes this reviewer that thinking about change is needed from the bottom-up rather than leaving it all to action and policy at the global level because it is in urban centres where most people live and where the impacts of inaction are so often first felt and where a change in energy use and consumption can probably best be achieved.

 English: Climate zones of the world 
English: Climate zones of the world (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Key Quotes: 

“The most serious of these problems show signs of rapidly escalating severity, especially climate disruption… an accelerating extinction of animal and plant populations and species,.. land degradation and land-use change; a pole-to-pole spread of toxic compounds; ocean acidification and eutrophication (dead zones); worsening of some aspects of the epidemiological environment … depletion of increasingly scarce resources including especially groundwater…and resource wars"

“The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that increasing food production by some 70 per cent would be required to feed a 35 per cent bigger and still growing human population adequately by 2050” 

 “Agriculture itself is a major emitter of greenhouse gases and thus is an important cause of climate disruption as well as being exceptionally vulnerable to its consequences… agriculture is a leading cause of losses of biodiversity and thus of the critical ecosystem services supplied to agriculture itself (e.g. pollination, pest control, soil fertility, climate stability)”

 “The central challenge, of course, is to phase out more than half of the global use of fossil fuels by 2050 in order to forestall the worst impacts of climate disruption.. interests with large financial stakes in fossil fuel burning have launched a gigantic and largely successful disinformation campaign in the USA to confuse people about climate disruption ..and block attempts to deal with it” 

 “Recent predictions are that environmental refugees could number 50 million by 2020…Severe droughts, floods, famines and epidemics could greatly swell that number” 

 “We know that simply informing people of the scientific consensus on a serious problem does not ordinarily produce rapid changes in institutional or individual behavior…Foresight intelligence could not only systematically look ahead but also guide cultural changes towards desirable outcomes such as increased socio-economic resilience”
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