Ultrafine particles in the air is associated with heart disease, asthma, and premature mortality. And they can be indoors as well as outdoors. In the Sacramento area with its high air pollution, the University of California, Davis has released a new study today that pins down precisely what emits the worst toxicity.
Pollutants in the air, water, and the rest of the environment are now able to be traced to their sources. Researchers at UC Davis found for the first time a link between toxic substances that cause air pollution and what causes the problem. Read the study and check out the February 19, 2013 UC Davis news release, "Scientists trace particulate air pollution to its source."
Previous research has shown that air pollution containing fine and ultrafine particles is associated with asthma, heart disease and premature death. This new study, released today by the California Air Resources Board and the Electric Power Research Institute, marks the first time that researchers have conducted source-oriented sampling of these particles in the atmosphere.
Particulate emissions are the most toxic
For example, the researchers found that particulate emissions from vehicles, wood burning and residential cooking exhibited the most toxic effects at the study site in Fresno, which has among the nation’s highest rates of adult and childhood asthma. “Right now, air quality standards are based on the mass of particulate matter and don’t distinguish between natural sources, like sea spray, and known toxic sources, like diesel exhaust,” said Anthony Wexler, the principal investigator and director of the Air Quality Research Center at UC Davis, according to the UC Davis news release. “This study will help regulators control only the sources that are toxic, which saves money.”
The scientists present their research yesterday, February 19, 2013 at a public seminar hosted by the state air board, at the Cal/EPA Building in Sacramento
Check out Details about yesterday's February 19, 2013 seminar. In Fresno, ambient particle samples were collected in both summer and winter to account for seasonal differences in the atmosphere. The researchers used a single particle mass spectrometer, co-developed by Wexler, and 10 particle samplers to collect, analyze and separate ambient particles.
Laboratory mice then inhaled particle samples from the separate sources. Kent Pinkerton, a professor of pediatrics at the UC Davis School of Medicine, monitored their responses for signs of toxicity. “This demonstrates that particles of different sources have different degrees and kinds of toxicity,” said Pinkerton in the UC Davis news release. “We need to use this information to better understand the health effects of particulate matter. If we don’t, we’ll never really come up with a solution.” The California Air Resources Board and the Electric Power Research Institute funded this new study.
Sacramento's indoor air pollution in some office buildings
Sacramento may have indoor air pollution in some office buildings, but what about the indoor air pollution--small particulates in your home? The indoor air pollution as well as the outdoor small particle air pollution in Sacramento, especially in areas where there is heavy traffic and unhealthy outdoor air may cause a rise in blood pressure and increased risk of cardiovascular diseases due to the small air pollution particulates in the outdoor as well as the indoor air. Air pollution also can raise your blood pressure.
One problem focuses on public schools built when there was little traffic less than 500 feet from where there now is heavy traffic and intense, hazardous air pollution. What might help a little to temporarily solve the problem is perhaps planting enough greenery around your house to absorb some of the air pollution--small particulates, for example, such as bushes, hedges, or wide canopy trees. What's the air quality like in your home?
A few years ago the air pollution in Sacramento near a middle school near Arden Way and Watt Avenue registered such a high reading of air pollution that more trees and green plants were placed near the school to absorb some of the air pollution. The outermost school building lies close to roads. See the June 23, 2011 news article, Sacramento Bee - UC Davis News & Information: In the News.
Air pollution around public schools
A state law passed in 2010 requires school districts to analyze and address the effects of vehicle pollution on school sites proposed within 500 feet of a freeway or thoroughfare. According to the article, Sacramento Bee - UC Davis News & Information: In the News, in addition to school congestion, high traffic levels along Watt persist throughout the day. Arden Middle's unfortunate location has caught the eye of the local American Lung Association's Health Effects Task Force.
In 2002, the task force enlisted Tom Cahill, an atmospheric physicist and international expert on air pollution at the University of California, Davis, to measure the particulates coming from Interstate 5. Out of curiosity, the task force also asked Cahill to put a monitor at Arden Middle School. The results surprised and alarmed them: The traffic at Arden and Watt subjects the school to levels of particle pollution comparable to or greater than the levels seen from I-5.
The exposure is worsened by the fact that at its nearest point, the outmost middle school building is just 45 feet away from traffic, by Cahill's measure. According to the article, one rule for avoiding direct exposure to street pollution is to move 500 feet or more away. At that distance, studies have shown, the effects of traffic exhaust fade to background levels.
Years ago, there was little air pollution when builders constructed Arden Middle school in 1914, when the only traffic that passed did so on hoof or foot. That's the problem with homes in the Arden Arcade area, where rows of homes went up in 1951, when at that time the traffic didn't produce heavy air pollution as it does today.
On top of that pollution, you have the cell phone towers and the smart meters with electronic and radio wave pollution added to the air pollution. And if you hide indoors as do many seniors, your indoor air pollution could be as bad or worse than outside, except on days when the newspaper tells you the outdoor air is unhealthy for sensitive groups such as older adults or people with allergies, or even unhealthy for everyone on certain days. So what is Sacramento doing to solve the problem and get measurable results when funding, resources, and budgets are so tight?
The University of California, Davis operates an Air Quality Research Center
See the website, Facts: UC Davis Air Quality Research Center. UC Davis's close proximity to Sacramento and San Francisco has afforded researchers and faculty the opportunity to develop working relationships with federal, state and local environmental and air pollution agencies over a long period of time. Thus, the AQRC supplies a substantial network of researchers, a technical knowledge base and a general understanding of stakeholder perspectives.
In Fact, UC Davis offers a PhD degree in air quality. The PhD degree program emphasizes Atmospheric Aerosols and Health Program and supports upwards of 20 PhD students per year at UC Davis and Merced. The program helps mentor PhD students throughout their research and teaches PhD students how to translate their research into policy.
The Center currently hosts projects with funding totaling about $10M for multi-collaborator research. UC Davis faculty host a total of about $50M of air quality and climate research across campus, about 10% of the total $550M in research funding on campus. With all this research, Sacramento's heavy traffic and polluted air, especially during the summer months still provides residents with indoor and outdoor air full of small particulates.
Reduce your exposure to those small toxic particulates in the air
The only place to take a walk or run for exercise in Sacramento may be alongside the curb in the midst of heavy traffic for some people, such as walking from Watt Avenue to Fulton Avenue along Marconi when the sidewalk stops to get to the shopping mall. If you're a nondriver, you walk in the curb when the weather permits, and with no sidewalks, you share the curb with the bicycle lane and people on scooters, power chairs, bikes, and even roller skates. On the other hand, if you stay indoors on days when the outdoor air is unhealthy for everyone or for sensitive groups, you can at least reduce your exposure to the small particulates in the outdoor air from raising your risk of cardiovascular diseases, irregular heart beats, perhaps a rise in your blood pressure, and other health issues of small particulate-polluted air. Other countries, too, have polluted air, especially indoor air polluted with small particulates--perhaps from unhealthy cooking stoves.
Check out the July 2011 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives and also on July 8, 2011 in a news release, "Indoor air pollution linked to cardiovascular risk." In a study just published online in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have associated indoor air pollution with increased blood pressure among older women. According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison study, "In a remote area of Yunnan Province, China, 280 women in an ethnic minority called the Naxi wore a portable device that sampled the air they were breathing for 24 hours. The Naxi live in compounds including a central, free-standing kitchen that often has both a stove and a fire pit, says Jill Baumgartner, who performed the study with National Science Foundation funding while a Ph.D. student at UW-Madison, according to the news release, "Indoor air pollution linked to cardiovascular risk."
Blood pressure rise and indoor air pollution levels
"By correlating exposure over 24 hours with blood pressure, Baumgartner and colleagues associated higher levels of indoor air pollution with a significantly higher blood pressure among women aged 50 and over. Small-particle pollution raises blood pressure over the short term by stimulating the nervous system to constrict blood vessels. In the long term, the particles can cause oxidative stress, which likewise raises blood pressure."
Maybe it's time for other countries to use solar cookers or cleaner fuels in areas where there is little use of stoves or the traditional stove is an indoor or outdoor tandoori-type oven or other device that releases minute particles of polluted air indoors.
Other studies have shown that improved stoves or cleaner fuels can cut indoor air pollution by 50 to 75 percent. In the Baumgartner study, that reduction in pollution level was linked to a four-point reduction in systolic blood pressure (the first number in a blood pressure reading). Such a change "may be of little consequence for an individual," says co-author Leonelo Baustista, an associate professor of population health sciences at UW-Madison, according to the news release, "Indoor air pollution linked to cardiovascular risk." "However, changes of this magnitude in a population would have a significant, large impact on the risk of cardiovascular disease in the population."
In fact, the researchers concluded, according to the University of Wisconsin-Madison July 8, 2011 news release, "that this reduction would translate into an 18 percent decrease in coronary heart disease and a 22 percent decrease in stroke among Asian women aged 50 to 59. These benefits would save the lives of 230,900 Chinese women each year."
Can Sacramento's high air pollution at times possibly raise your risk of developing Parkinson's disease?
What environmental factors in Sacramento raise your risk of getting Parkinson's disease? It's air pollution. And Sacramento's heavy air pollution also raises your risk of heart disease and other heart problems if you live near a freeway or any area of heavy traffic.
You'll see in Sacramento quiet little streets that seem silent, but only a block away is heavy traffic such as living near the bumper-to-bumper traffic off of Watt Avenue or Marconi or where El Camino Avenue intersects Watt Avenue, or where Howe Avenue meets Fair Oaks Boulevard. The heavy traffic pollutes the air, which then wafts to those silent little streets with private homes and many trees. The trees fool you, making you think you're safe and out among greenery, perhaps near a creek. Then you're surprised when the air pollution's tiny particles get between your cells or into your blood and organs.
The cause of Parkinson's disease remains unknown, but, according to November 4, 2010 Los Angeles Times article by Mary Forgione, For the Los Angeles Times, "Studies examine environmental factors that may be linked to higher risk of Parkinson's," it's pollutants in various urban areas that may increase the risk.
According to the LA Times article, the Health Notes blog of the Newport News Daily Press reports on a new analysis that identifies high levels of manganese and copper pollution as potential risk factors for some city dwellers. For example, people living in areas with higher levels of manganese pollution had a 78% greater risk of having Parkinson's than those who didn't, according to the Washington University in St. Louis report.
It's not just copper and manganese excesses in the polluted air of some urban areas, but pesticide exposure also raises the risk of getting Parkinson's disease. And people working on farms, ranches, or in rural areas can get exposure just living out in the country, working on farms, or drinking well water that's full of pesticides running off of farms.
You might want to find out more about Parkinson's research. Michael J. Fox is funding various projects. Fox is the founder of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research,. The Foundation recently launched a five-year study to identify biomarkers of the progression of Parkinson's disease.
Michael J. Fox has had Parkinson's for almost 19 years, since he turned 30. Check out the article reporting how the Chicago Tribune explores one hospital's participation in the new study in "Northwestern seeks clues to Parkinson's."
Also check out the Los Angeles Times' Greenspace blog which notes that: "Rural residents who drink from private wells are up to twice as likely to develop Parkinson's from certain pesticides, including methomyl, chlorpyrifos and propargite, according to a recent UCLA. People with Parkinson's were more likely to have consumed water from private wells, and had done so for 4.3 years longer on average than people who did not have the disease, the study revealed.
Also, if you live in Sacramento near a freeway, (or any other area near a freeway) your risk of heart disease may go up. Check out the article, Study: Living Near Freeway May Be Hard On Heart - wbztv.com.
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