Wednesday, April 30, 2014

How does TRAP (Traffic-Related Air Pollution) Affect Asthma for Children?

Air pollution from traffic increases odds of hospital readmission for asthma(Press Release, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Mar. 27, 2014)

Also discussed here: Air pollution from traffic increases odds of hospital readmission for asthma(Science Daily, Mar. 27, 2014)

And here: Traffic Pollution Sends White Kids With Asthma Back To The Hospital(John Ericson, Repubhub, Mar. 27, 2014)

Today we review research on the health impacts for children living close to roadside emissions from traffic. Results indicate that white children were three times more likely to be hospitalized for asthma than black children. Black children already were exposed to asthma causing conditions because of the health risks associated with low income living conditions which do not on average occur with white children in the USA.

 traffic and asthma  

Key Quotes:  

“white children exposed to high levels of TRAP are three times more likely to be readmitted for asthma than white children with low TRAP exposure.”

"Although black children in our study had a higher rate of asthma readmission overall, TRAP exposure was not a discernible factor for these children. This suggests that other factors such as social stress or other environmental factors may be particularly relevant in this population,"

"For example, caregivers of black children reported significantly higher rates of psychological distress and were more likely to live in poorer housing conditions, with visible cockroaches or holes or cracks in the walls,"

"This study adds to the evidence that TRAP exposure worsens the health of children with asthma…We hope that this study can inform public policy. It may also suggest ways to personalize patient care based on environmental risks."

“Asthma is the most common chronic disease in children, affecting approximately 7.1 million children in the United States. The estimated annual cost of childhood asthma due to environmental factors, including air pollution is $2.2 billion”
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Monday, April 28, 2014

Does Exposure to Traffic-Related Air Pollution Cause Cancer ?

Residential Traffic Exposure and Childhood Leukemia: A Systematic Review and Meta(Abstract, Vickie L. Boothe, Tegan K. Boehmer, Arthur M. Wendel, Fuyuen Y. Yip, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Mar. 31, 2014n)

Also discussed here: CDC: Vehicle Exhaust Linked to Higher Child Leukemia Near Roads(Downwinders at risk, Mar. 24, 2014)

And here: CDC: Higher cancer risk for kids living near busy roads(Larry Copeland, USA TODAY, Mar. 20, 2014)

Today we review research into what links may exist between exposure to vehicle emissions near busy roads and cancer, given earlier research on residential traffic proximity to asthma, cardiovascular disease and premature mortality. Results indicate a significant link with leukemia, the most common form of childhood cancer and that those children with leukemia were 50% more likely to live near busy roads. This does not establish a clear link between exhaust and childhood leukemia but an association that does suggest that children not be exposed to roadside pollution.

 car exhaust

Key Quotes:

“The most common form of childhood cancer is leukemia, representing about one-third of all cancers among children 14 and younger.”

“Current evidence suggests that childhood leukemia is associated with residential traffic exposure during the postnatal period, but not during the prenatal period.”

“an estimated 30%-45% of people in large urban areas live near major roads, suggesting increased exposure to traffic-related air pollution and risk of adverse health outcomes."

“children diagnosed with leukemia were 50% more likely to live near busy roads than children without leukemia,"  
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Friday, April 25, 2014

Congestion Charging – It’s about Efficiency not Revenue!

The Lexus Lane (Charles Marohn, Strong Towns, Mar. 31, 2014) Today we review an article that takes a hard look at relieving highway congestion by adding a tolled lane when traffic flow approaches or exceeds capacity. When it comes to the critical question of how best to use the revenue, many assume it is meant for road costs. The author counters that by emphasizing the more important aspect is improving the efficiency of road use, whether it is spreading the traffic volume out over the day from peak hours or changing the actual urban design using economic prompters to reduce commuting distances and moving people closer to their jobs. He also reminds us that rural roads could never pay for themselves from tolls but are there for more basic economic reasons such as mining or lumber.

A good read!

 tolls and hot lanes  

Key Quotes:

 “rural areas pay a tiny fraction of the cost of their transportation, instead relying on the financial productivity of urban areas to maintain their lifestyles and what they inappropriately label a “local economy”

“With the current highway system, we design for rush hour – for peak flow – and, ironically, we call that efficient.. for 10 minutes each day the main highways are a little congested. For the remaining 23+ hours they are vastly underutilized.”

“Where congestion pricing or mileage charges have been tried (or proposed) in this country, they have generally been about raising revenue, not optimizing the system”

“Putting a price, not just on the lane but on the time of day that lane is used, and then sequestering those funds for the ongoing maintenance and improvement of that lane, will allow the market to send a clear signal for what the high-returning investments are. This clear signal would be free of any politician, bureaucrat or interest group.”

 “by sequestering the money collected on the congestion-priced lane and using it for capacity along that corridor, we are essentially using the revenue of those willing to pay more for the capacity (not all of which will be rich) to build that capacity. The new capacity will be available for everyone (albeit at a cost).”

“the proper response to congestion is a maturing of the development pattern. It is going to provide that single mom late for the interview a lot more opportunity if she can drive across town on the congestion-priced lane OR consider a job opportunity closer to home. Our current system, which addresses peak efficiency, doesn’t optimize for job/housing location”

“A lot of farm roads, logging roads and mining routes are critical to the economy but don’t pay for themselves with their usage. Amazingly, political influence has built many of these routes beyond anything needed for farm, logging or mining”
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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How Depressing is Traffic-Related Air Pollution for the Elderly?

Dragging the weight of the old age
Dragging the weight of the old age (Photo credit: Giulio Magnifico)
Ambient Air Pollution and Depressive Symptoms in Older Adults: Results from the MOBILIZE Boston Study(26 page pdf, Yi Wang, Melissa N. Eliot, Petros Koutrakis, Alexandros Gryparis, Joel D. Schwartz, Brent A. Coull, Murray A. Mittleman, William P. Milberg, Lewis A. Lipsitz, and Gregory A. Wellenius, Environmental Heralth Perspectives, Mar. 7, 2014) 

Today we review a study that had surprising results for older people in reasonably good health who live near traffic and air pollution in a large American city (Boston). Despite much environmental health research that this exposure causes neurological and cardiovascular diseases, there was no evidence from this study that air pollution on a short or long term bases causes depression. By contrast, it is worth noting that those most likely to suffer depression and living near traffic were younger females. 

 Key Quotes: 

“air pollution can cause systemic inflammation, neuroinflammation, oxidative stress, cerebrovascular damage, and neurodegenerative pathology…. and inflammation and vascular disease contribute to the risk of, or exacerbate, specific types of depression” 

“fluctuations in ambient levels of particles with aerodynamic diameter less than 10 μm (PM10), nitrogen dioxide, and ozone have been associated with more severe depressive symptoms among older adult participants…and a higher rate of emergency department visits for depression and attempted suicide” 

“participants living 100-250 m from a major roadway had the lowest mean age, were most likely to be female, were the least likely to be non-Hispanic white and have diabetes or hypertension, and were most likely to report use of antidepressant medication” 

 “we found no evidence suggestive of a positive association between the presence of depressive symptoms and markers of long-term exposure to traffic pollution. In addition, short-term changes in levels of ambient air pollutants were also not associated with the presence of depressive symptoms. ”
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How Can Satellite Imagery Help Reduce Care Use, Congestion and Emissions?

Per capita responsibility for current atmosphe...
Per capita responsibility for current atmospheric CO 2 level, including land-use change (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Landscape Pattern and Car Use: Evidence Linking Household Data with Satellite Imagery (Abstract, Rose Keller, Colin Vance, Journal of Transport Geography, Jan. , 2013) 

Also discussed here: Urban planning could change driving behaviour (1 page pdf, Science for Environment Policy, European Commission DG Environment News Alert Service, Mar. 27, 2014) 

And here: Factors influencing commute distance: a case study of Toronto’s commuter shed (Abstract, Axisa, Jeffrey J.; Scott, Darren M.; Bruce Newbold, K., Journal of Transport Geography, Sep. 2012) 

Today we review research that used satellite imagery along with geographical information system data (GIS) to find out what are the main pre-determinants for car use. Results indicate that diversity of land uses which includes the mix of open space with built-up space and the mix of regional businesses with residential are most highly linked to less care use, along with two more publicly-accepted notions about higher fuel prices and availability of public transit. This suggests that urbn planners would do well to compare digital maps of land use as part of their efforts to effectively reduce car use, congestion and carbon dioxide emissions (which make up 12% of all greenhouse gas emissions in Europe) 

Key Quotes: 

“as diversity of the landscape increased – indicating an increase in the integration of different land uses – household mileage decreased, suggesting that people drive less when land use is more mixed. The probability of owning a car and the distance driven each week was higher in less built up areas.” 

“Households with young children were less likely to own cars, but drove greater distances when they did.” 

“Results indicate that landscape pattern, as captured by measures of both land cover (e.g. the extent of open space and landscape diversity) and land use (e.g. the density and composition of regional businesses) are important predictors of car ownership and use. Other policy-relevant variables, such as fuel prices and public transit infrastructure, are also identified as important correlates.” 

 “carefully considered land development measures, ones that encourage dense development and mixed use, can have beneficial impacts in reducing car dependency that extend far into the future” 

“Their results hint that combining different land uses in highly developed urban areas could reduce emissions through reduced car use. They also suggest that offering preferential tax rates on properties in urban areas could help lower emissions by reducing car driving.”  
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Monday, April 14, 2014

What is the Best Way to Reduce Vehicle Emissions?

A Miles ZX40 Zero-emissions vehicle at CUNY Qu...
A methodology to compute emission projections from road transport (EmiTRANS) (Abstract, Julio Lumbrerasa, Rafael Borgea, Alberto Guijarroa, Jose M. Lopezb, M. Encarnacion Rodrígueza, Science Direct, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Jan. 2014) 

Also discussed here: Simulations to reduce emissions from road transport (Science Daily, Mar. 24, 2014) 

Today we review a paper that describes a greenhouse gas emission simulation model that can evaluate possible options to reduce emissions from land transportation. Results indicate that highway speed and engine type are the most influential factors while advanced emission reduction is most efficient for hazardous air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. 

Key Quotes: 

“this simulation model can assess the impact of policies and measures such as support systems for vehicle renewal, speed reduction, market penetration of less powerful engines, vehicles fuel change, the city circulation restriction policy and the biofuel usage awareness” 

Atmospheric emissions from road transport have increased all around the world during the last decades more rapidly than from other pollution sources….they contribute to more than 25% of total CO, CO2, NOx, and fine particle emissions in most of the European countries. "

“The conducted tests show that reducing the greenhouse emissions requires mostly non-technological measures (mobility restriction).. the renewal of the vehicles fleet with systems of advanced emission reduction is the most efficient option to reduce emissions of air pollutants (mainly nitrogen oxides and particulate matter).” 

“speed on highways and the vehicle engine type are the most influential factors that contribute to CO2 emissions.”
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