Archive | Air Pollutants

Pollutants Affect in Vitro Fertilization

HERSHEY, Pa., April 12 (UPI) — U.S. medical fertility scientists say they’ve found exposure to nitrogen dioxide and other air pollutants can affect the success of in vitro fertilization.

The team said it examined the outcomes of the first pregnancy attempts of 7,403 women undergoing IVF at Penn State University’s Hershey Medical Center, Shady Grove Fertility of Rockville, Md.; and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. They conducted their observations over a seven-year period from 2000 to 2007.

“Numerous studies have consistently shown a relationship between air pollution and human health, ranging from mortality, cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions,” said Penn State Professor Duanping Liao. “In the process of searching for the mechanisms responsible for the … associations, we, and others, have reported significant links between air pollution and inflammation and increased blood-clotting. These intermediate factors are also associated with reproductive health.”

The researchers said their findings may be useful in studying the adverse effects of air pollution on human reproduction in general.

“Since IVF is a well-controlled and highly timed process, we have a much better handle on the assessment of the time of exposures to elevated air pollutants in relationship to fertilization, pregnancy and delivery,” Liao said. The findings may provide an ideal situation to investigate the potential health effects of air quality on human reproduction, he said.

The study appears in the journal Human Reproduction.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Pollution Affects Women's Marathon Times

BLACKSBURG, Va., March 11 (UPI) — A U.S. researcher said women’s marathon running times are affected by poor air quality.

Civil and environmental engineer Lynsey Marr of Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg said higher levels of pollution particles in the air were associated with slower running times for women. However, men were not significantly affected.

Marr suggests the gender difference may be due to the smaller size of women’s trachea’s, which makes it easier for particles to deposit there and possibly cause irritation.

Marr and Matthew Ely of the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine evaluated marathon race results, weather data and air pollutant concentrations in seven marathons held in major U.S. cities, including New York and Los Angeles, over a period of eight to 28 years.

“Although pollution levels in these marathons rarely exceeded national standards for air quality, performance was still affected,” Marr said in a statement.

Previous research has shown marathon runners during a race inhale and exhale about the same volume of air as a sedentary person would over the course of two full days.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Chemicals in Forest Fire Smoke Studied

SCOTTSVILLE, South Africa, Feb. 1 (UPI) — South African scientists say chemicals in smoke from forest fires may regulate seed germination and play a key role in the rebirth of burned landscape.

The researchers, led by Johannes Van Staden of the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Scottsville, South Africa, identified both plant growth promoters and inhibitors in smoke.

The scientists previously discovered a chemical compound in smoke from burning plants that promotes seed germination. Such seeds, which remain buried on forest and meadow floors after fires have been extinguished, are responsible for the surprisingly rapid re-growth of fire-devastated landscapes.

In their new research, the scientists said they discovered an inhibitor compound that might block the action of the stimulator, preventing germination of seeds. They suspect both compounds might be part of a natural regulatory system for repopulating fire-ravaged landscapes.

The scientists said the interaction of those and other compounds may ensure seeds remain dormant until environmental conditions are best for germination. The inhibitor thus may delay germination of seeds until moisture and temperature are right, and then take a back seat to the germination promoter in smoke.

The study appears in the American Chemical Society Journal of Natural Products.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Air Pollution Linked to Ear Infections

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 1 (UPI) — Improvements in air quality over the past decade have resulted in fewer cases of ear infections in children, U.S. researchers suggest.

Study co-author Dr. Nina Shapiro of Mattel Children’s Hospital University of California, Los Angeles, and of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and colleagues reviewed National Health Interview Survey data for 120,060 children between the years of 1997-2006.

Shapiro and colleagues measured the number of instances of frequent ear infections — three or more within a year — and respiratory allergy. Seizure activity, which is not influenced by air quality, was included as a control.

The data were cross-referenced with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s air-quality data on pollutants, including carbon monoxide, nitrous dioxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter, for the same time period.

The study authors discovered that as air quality steadily improved, the number of cases of frequent ear infections significantly decreased.

“We believe these findings, which demonstrate a direct correlation between air quality and ear infections, have both medical and political significance,” Shapiro says in a statement.

The findings are published in Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Taiwan's Temperatures and Emissions Rise on Impact of Air Pollution

TAIPEI, Taiwan, Jan. 4 (UPI) — Taiwan’s temperatures have risen by an average of 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit over the past century, according to a government study.

Despite Taiwan’s rise in temperatures, sunny hours in the country have fallen. The decline — attributed to air pollution and suspended particles that had blocked the sunshine — ranges from 176 hours per year in the north to 552 hours per year in central Taiwan, the Central News Agency reports.

Taiwan’s sea level has risen an average of 1.18 inches over the past 10 years, or about 0.11 of an inch each year, according to Fan Kuang-lung, a professor at National Taiwan University’s Institute of Oceanography.

Taiwan is becoming increasingly vulnerable to climate change due to global warming and the pumping of underground water for farming and household use, said Fan, CNA reports. “Flooding will become the norm in some western tidal land areas,” he said.

Taiwan has also recorded the world’s highest growth in greenhouse gas emissions — 138 percent — over the past 16 years, said Liang Chi-yuan, a government minister.

But Taiwan will have to spend twice as much as other countries as a percentage of its gross domestic product to meet international carbon emissions reduction targets, said Yang Jih-chang, a senior adviser to the Industrial Technology Research Institute.

Because it has few natural resources and its industrial sector accounts for more than 50 percent of annual GDP, Yang estimates it would cost Taiwan $3.1 billion to $4.65 billion annually to meet the International Energy Agency’s recommendation that countries spend up to 0.5 percent of GDP to keep greenhouse gases below 450 parts per million by 2020.

Yang Chi-yuan, an associate professor at Chinese Culture University, said the government should not plot a carbon-reduction target using a top-down centralized process. He suggests instead that Taiwan allow agencies in charge of transportation, industrial and economic affairs to set targets based on practical abilities.

“We need not follow European and American countries in setting carbon reduction targets because their regulations do not necessarily meet Taiwan’s needs,” Yang Chi-yuan said, CNA reports.

Environmental Protection Administration Minister Stephen Shu-hung Shen said the government has passed laws on energy management and renewable energy development, admitting that more work still needs to be done.

“Once the statutes governing energy taxes and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions are enacted, our legal framework on carbon reduction will be complete,” Shen said.

He urged Taiwan Power Co. to reduce the percentage of fossil fuels in its energy generation.

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollutants, Air, Atmosphere, & Weather, Atmospheric Science, Causes, Global Warming & Climate Change, Tidal, Transportation0 Comments

South Korea's Carbon Dioxide Emissions Rise to 620 Million Tons in 2007

SEOUL, Dec. 29 (UPI) — South Korea’s carbon dioxide emissions increased 2.9 percent — totaling 620 million tons — in 2007, the government announced Monday, Xinhua reports.

That represents the highest growth rate since 2002 and is nearly three times faster than the growth rate in 2006. It is also a 103-percent increase from 1990 greenhouse gas emission totals.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, South Korea’s emissions are the fastest growing of all industrialized states.

Seoul attributes the sharp rise to increases in fossil fuel output because of a fall in nuclear power generation as well as energy consumption in the country’s steel and petrochemical sectors.

Yet South Korea regards carbon dioxide reduction not as a burden but a “business model,” the country’s climate-change ambassador, Rae-Kwon Chung, told Der Spiegel during the Copenhagen climate-change conference.

Rae-Kwon, who has been active in climate negotiations since they began internationally in 1991, is sometimes referred to as the “godfather” of the green growth movement, which contends that countries can boost wealth by reducing emissions.

In an interview with The Los Angeles Times during the Copenhagen talks, Rae-Kwon said world leaders need to capture the “opportunity” of renewable energy technology. To do so, he said, they need to rethink some fundamentals of daily life: tax structures, transportation patterns and, most importantly, to accept that cheaper energy is better for economic growth.

“They’re walking the walk” in South Korea, Jake Schmidt, international climate policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, who has worked closely with Chung on climate issues, told the Times. Schmidt said Chung “has had a very big impact in how South Korea views their role” on emission limits, domestically and internationally.

Recent announcements may confirm Schmidt’s observations.

Last week South Korea said it plans to officially register by the end of January its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent from the projected emission level in 2020 compared with 2005.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak announced Dec. 17 that $10 million would be used to establish a Global Green Growth Institute, bringing economists and top researchers together to develop new ideas.

And South Korea said Monday it would launch a carbon emissions trading scheme aimed at reducing the country’s emissions 1 percent to 2 percent of 2005 to 2007 averages, reports Xinhua.

The Korea Stock Exchange would serve as a platform for the three-year pilot program, starting as early as late 2010, said the Ministry of Environment. A total of 641 organizations will participate, including South Korea’s 14 local governments and 446 public organizations.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollutants, Air Quality Standards & Emissions, Air, Atmosphere, & Weather, Consumption, Energy, Ideas, Humanities, & Education, Organizations, Science, Space, & Technology, Transportation, Walking0 Comments

Air Pollution Linked to Pneumonia Hospitalizations in Seniors

HAMILTON, Ontario, Dec. 23 (UPI) — Prolonged exposure to higher levels of air pollution can lead to hospitalization for pneumonia in adults age 65 and older, Canadian researchers found.

Infectious disease specialist Mark Loeb of McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine in Hamilton led a research team in recruiting 365 older adults from Hamilton who had been hospitalized with radiologically confirmed pneumonia from July 2003 to April 2005. Control subjects randomly selected from the same neighborhoods as the patients were also enrolled in the study.

The researchers used structured interviews to collect health data from participants and compared the two groups’ exposures to data from air-quality monitoring stations and land-use regression models.

The researchers found that exposure for more than 12 months to higher levels of nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter of less than 2.5 micrometers more than doubled the risk of hospitalization for pneumonia in adults age 65 and older. However, exposure to sulfur dioxide was not associated with an increased risk of hospitalization.

“Our study found that among older individuals, long-term exposure to traffic pollution independently increased their risk of hospitalization for pneumonia,” Loeb said in a statement.

The findings are scheduled to be published in the Jan. 1 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Ailments & Diseases, Air Pollutants, Air Pollution, Air, Atmosphere, & Weather, Effects Of Air Pollution, Human Health & Wellness, Pollution & Toxins, Seniors’ Health0 Comments

Senator Byrd's Climate Stance Surprises West Virginia & Coal Industry

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 (UPI) — West Virginia politicians and coal industry leaders say they’re surprised and puzzled by remarks on coal mining from Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.

Byrd, 92, a longtime opponent of environmental restrictions on his state’s $3.5 billion coal industry, said this month, “The truth is that some form of climate legislation will likely become public policy” and will adversely affect coal mining, warning, “West Virginians can choose to anticipate change and adapt to it or resist and be overrun by it.”

Those remarks have flabbergasted many in the state, the Washington publication Politico reported Friday.

“To me, it was quite amazing,” Ken Hechler, a veteran West Virginia Democratic officeholder who served as congressman from 1959 to 1977, told the publication. “It was the first time that he had been at all critical of the coal industry. It was truly unexpected.”

“Over the years, he’s been a proponent of coal,” added Art Kirkendoll, the influential Democratic president of the Logan County Commission. “He’s the ranking senator in the Senate, a very powerful man, has accomplished a lot of things. Anytime he makes a statement — especially about a controversial issue — it has an impact on things.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollutants, Air Quality Standards & Emissions, Air, Atmosphere, & Weather, Art, Causes, Coal0 Comments

EPA Declares Greenhouse Gases as Public Health Hazard

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (UPI) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Monday declared greenhouse gas emissions a public health hazard that can be regulated under the Clean Air Act.

“These long-overdue findings cement 2009′s place in history as the year when the United States Government began addressing the challenge of greenhouse-gas pollution and seizing the opportunity of clean-energy reform,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said during a news conference. “Business leaders, security experts, government officials, concerned citizens and the United States Supreme Court have called for enduring, pragmatic solutions to reduce the greenhouse gas pollution that is causing climate change.”

She said the declaration allows the federal government to move toward clean energy reform that will cut greenhouse gases and reduce dependence on foreign oil.

Greenhouse gases are the primary driver of climate change, which can lead to hotter, longer heat waves that threaten the health of the sick, poor or elderly. Climate change also increases in ground-level ozone pollution linked to asthma and other respiratory illnesses, among other things, the EPA said in a release.

EPA’s final findings respond to the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision that greenhouse gases fit within the Clean Air Act definition of air pollutants. The findings don’t impose any emission reduction requirements but allow the EPA to finalize the greenhouse gases standards proposed earlier in 2009 for new light-duty vehicles as part of the joint rule-making with the Department of Transportation.

The endangerment finding covers emissions of six greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollutants, Energy, Human Health & Wellness, Other, Ozone, Transportation0 Comments

Air Pollution at Small Airports a Concern

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 18 (UPI) — Air pollution is well-recognized problem at major airports, but air pollution near smaller regional airports may be overlooked, U.S. researchers say.

Suzanne Paulson of the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues said smaller regional airports are becoming an increasingly important component of global air transport systems.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, suggests that officials should pay closer attention to these overlooked emissions, which could cause health problems for residents. Paulson and colleagues note that scientists have known for years that aircraft emissions from fuel burned during takeoffs and landings can have a serious impact on air quality near major airports.

The scientists measured a range of air pollutants near a general aviation airport for private planes and corporate jets in Southern California — Santa Monica Airport — in the spring and summer of last year.

The researchers found that emissions of ultrafine particles, which are less than 1/500th width of a human hair, were significantly elevated when compared to background pollution levels.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollutants, Air Pollution, Aviation, Pollution & Toxins, Regional, Science, Space, & Technology0 Comments

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