News Article | February 19, 2017
« Mobileye completes installation of collision avoidance technology across 4,500 New York City for-hire vehicles | Main | Peugeot launching Partner Tepee Electric at Geneva Motor Show » A new study, led by a team from The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) at the University of York, has found that in 2010, about 2.7 million preterm births globally—or 18% of all pre-term births—were associated with outdoor exposure to fine particulate matter (PM ).The open-access study is published in the journal Environment International. There are many known risk factors for preterm birth—from the mother’s age, to illness, to poverty and other social factors. Recent research has suggested that exposure to air pollution could also be a risk factor. The researchers combined national, population-weighted, annual average ambient PM concentration, preterm birth rate and number of livebirths to calculate the number of PM -associated preterm births in 2010 for 183 countries. Uncertainty was quantified using Monte-Carlo simulations, and analyses were undertaken to investigate the sensitivity of PM -associated preterm birth estimates to assumptions about the shape of the concentration-response function at low and high PM exposures, inclusion of provider-initiated preterm births, and exposure to indoor air pollution. This study highlights that air pollution may not just harm people who are breathing the air directly—it may also seriously affect a baby in its mother’s womb. Preterm births associated with this exposure not only contribute to infant mortality, but can have life-long health effects in survivors. —Chris Malley, a researcher in SEI at York and lead author When a baby is born preterm (at less than 37 weeks of gestation), there is an increased risk of death or long-term physical and neurological disabilities. In 2010, an estimated 14.9 million births were preterm—about 4–5% of the total in some European countries, but up to 15–18% in some African and South Asian countries. The study revealed that while many other health impacts of air pollution have been documented—most notably through the Global Burden of Disease studies—the focus has been mainly on premature deaths from heart disease and respiratory problems. The new study adds an important new consideration in measuring the health burden of air pollution and the benefits of mitigation measures, Malley said. A pregnant woman’s exposure can vary greatly depending on where she lives—in a city in China or India, for instance, she might inhale more than 10 times as much pollution as she would in rural England or France. The study did not quantify the risk in specific locations, but rather used the average ambient PM level in each country, and analyzed the results by region. India alone accounted for about 1 million of the total 2.7 million global estimate, and China for about another 500,000. Western sub-Saharan Africa and the North Africa/Middle East region also had particularly high numbers, with exposures in these regions having a large contribution from desert dust. SEI is working to support more than 20 developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to develop plans to reduce emissions leading to particulate air pollution. It is important to realize that action needs to be taken on all the major sources. In a city, maybe only half the pollution comes from sources within the city itself—the rest will be transported there by the wind from other regions or even other countries. That means that often regional cooperation is needed to solve the problem. —Dr Johan C.I. Kuylenstierna, co-author of the study and SEI’s director of policy The analysis grew out of SEI’s Initiative on Low Emission Development Pathways (LED-P), which includes the development of a “benefits calculator” to help policy-makers and planners assess the potential benefits of undertaking measures that reduce air pollution. This work in LED-P is contributing to the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC), where SEI is working with UNEP and other partners to support more than 20 developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to develop plans to reduce emissions leading to particulate air pollution. Global modelling and satellite data analysis were conducted by Daven Henze, co-author of the study from University of Colorado, Boulder, through his membership on the NASA Air Quality and Applied Sciences Team (AQAST). PM particles include a variety of substances, such as black carbon (soot), sulphates, nitrates and ammonium, as well as dust from soil and from industrial processes such as cement production.
News Article | March 14, 2016
The findings are published March 11 in the journal Environment International. Half of the seafood consumed by Americans is farmed. Fish farming, also known as aquaculture, is the fastest-growing food animal sector, outpacing the beef and poultry industries. While wild fish find their own food - which includes smaller fish for carnivorous species—intensively farmed fish are fed a manufactured aquaculture feed. Until recently, this manufactured feed was typically composed of high levels of fishmeal and fish oil derived from wild fish—but it has become unsustainable to catch more wild fish to feed growing numbers of farmed fish, so the industry has shifted the makeup of the feed. For example, twice as much soybean meal was used in commercial aquaculture feed in 2008 as compared to fishmeal, and the use of crop-based ingredients is projected to increase 124 percent between 2008 and 2020. "Farmed fish get their health-promoting omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, from their feed, and specifically from fish oil," says study leader Jillian Fry, PhD, director of CLF's Public Health and Sustainable Aquaculture Project and a faculty member at the Bloomberg School. "Our review found that increasing plant-based ingredients can change the fatty acid content in farmed fish, which can affect human nutrition." The new study details the industry shift to crop-based feed ingredients, such as soy, corn, and wheat, to replace wild fish as a key ingredient in manufactured feed. The researchers—in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Minnesota's Institute on the Environment and McGill University—reviewed aquaculture and public health literature, and conducted a new analysis to estimate the environmental footprint for the top five crops used in commercial aquaculture feed. The shift has been hailed by some as a positive change in light of the increasingly depleted oceans and the rapidly expanding aquaculture industry. But the shift may have some unintended consequences as well. Using vegetable oils instead of fish oil changes the fatty acid content of fish and nutritional value for human consumption, the researchers say. Considering Americans are encouraged to consume seafood high in omega-3 fatty acids, which promote improved cardiovascular health and neurodevelopment, this has large implications for dietary recommendations and the aquaculture industry. More research is needed, they say, to better understand the impact of this shift in feed on the health benefits of consuming farmed fish. While fish-based ingredients are seen as acutely limited, so are the resources such as land, water and fertilizer used to produce feed crops. Aquaculture's environmental footprint likely now includes increased nutrient and pesticide runoff from the industrial crop production needed to supply fish food. This runoff is a key driver of water pollution globally, and can negatively impact public health. Depending on where and how feed crops are produced, plant-based fish feed could be indirectly linked to negative health outcomes for agricultural workers and nearby communities due to exposure to air, water or soil contaminated by nutrients and/or pesticides. Fry says that these new findings may raise more questions than they answer. "The nutritional content of farmed fish should be monitored," Fry says. "The aquaculture industry should assess the environmental footprint and public health impacts of their crop-based feed ingredients and seek those produced using sustainable methods." Explore further: Scientists discover key to easing aquaculture's reliance on wild-caught fish More information: "Environmental Health Impacts of Feeding Crops to Farmed Fish" Environment International, 2016.
Burken J.G.,Missouri University of Science and Technology |
Vroblesky D.A.,U.S. Geological Survey |
Balouet J.C.,Environment International
Environmental Science and Technology | Year: 2011
As plants evolved to be extremely proficient in mass transfer with their surroundings and survive as earth's dominant biomass, they also accumulate and store some contaminants from surroundings, acting as passive samplers. Novel applications and analytical methods have been utilized to gain information about a wide range of contaminants in the biosphere soil, water, and air, with information available on both past (dendrochemistry) and present (phytoscreening). Collectively these sampling approaches provide rapid, cheap, ecologically friendly, and overall "green" tools termed "Phytoforensics". © 2011 American Chemical Society.
Balouet J.C.,Environment International |
Burken J.G.,Missouri University of Science and Technology |
Karg F.,HPC RandD Division |
Vroblesky D.,U.S. Geological Survey |
And 6 more authors.
Environmental Science and Technology | Year: 2012
Trees can take up and assimilate contaminants from the soil, subsurface, and groundwater. Contaminants in the transpiration stream can become bound or incorporated into the annual rings formed in trees of the temperate zones. The chemical analysis of precisely dated tree rings, called dendrochemistry, can be used to interpret past plant interactions with contaminants. This investigation demonstrates that dendrochemistry can be used to generate historical scenarios of past contamination of groundwater by chlorinated solvents at a site in Verl, Germany. Increment cores from trees at the Verl site were collected and analyzed by energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) line scanning. The EDXRF profiles showed four to six time periods where tree rings had anomalously high concentrations of chlorine (Cl) as an indicator of potential contamination by chlorinated solvents. © 2012 American Chemical Society.
Smith K.T.,U.S. Department of Agriculture |
Balouet J.C.,Environment International |
Shortle W.C.,U.S. Department of Agriculture |
Chalot M.,University of Franche Comte |
And 5 more authors.
Chemosphere | Year: 2014
Energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) provides highly sensitive and precise spatial resolution of cation content in individual annual growth rings in trees. The sensitivity and precision have prompted successful applications to forensic dendrochemistry and the timing of environmental releases of contaminants. These applications have highlighted the need to distinguish dendrochemical effects of internal processes from environmental contamination. Calcium, potassium, and zinc are three marker cations that illustrate the influence of these processes. We found changes in cation chemistry in tree rings potentially due to biomineralization, development of cracks or checks, heartwood/sapwood differentiation, intra-annual processes, and compartmentalization of infection. Distinguishing internal from external processes that affect dendrochemistry will enhance the value of EDXRF for both physiological and forensic investigations. © 2013.
Limmer M.A.,Missouri University of Science and Technology |
Balouet J.-C.,Environment International |
Karg F.,HPC Envirotec |
Karg F.,HPC AG Group |
And 2 more authors.
Environmental Science and Technology | Year: 2011
Rapid detection and delineation of contaminants in urban settings is critically important in protecting human health. Cores from trees growing above a plume of contaminated groundwater in Verl, Germany, were collected in 1 day, with subsequent analysis and plume mapping completed over several days. Solid-phase microextraction (SPME) analysis was applied to detect tetrachloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE) to below nanogram/liter levels in the transpiration stream of the trees. The tree core concentrations showed a clear areal correlation to the distribution of PCE and TCE in the groundwater. Concentrations in tree cores were lower than the underlying groundwater, as anticipated; however, the tree core water retained the PCE:TCE signature of the underlying groundwater in the urban, populated area. The PCE:TCE ratio can indicate areas of differing degradation activity. Therefore, the phytoscreening analysis was capable not only of mapping the spatial distribution of groundwater contamination but also of delineating zones of potentially differing contaminant sources and degradation. The simplicity of tree coring and the ability to collect a large number of samples in a day with minimal disruption or property damage in the urban setting demonstrates that phytoscreening can be a powerful tool for gaining reconnaissance-level information on groundwater contaminated by chlorinated solvents. The use of SPME decreases the detection level considerably and increases the sensitivity of phytoscreening as an assessment, monitoring, and phytoforensic tool. With rapid, inexpensive, and noninvasive methods of detecting and delineating contaminants underlying homes, as in this case, human health can be better protected through screening of broader areas and with far faster response times. © 2011 American Chemical Society.
News Article | February 24, 2017
"A pregnant woman's exposure to air pollution has adverse effects on her fetus, according to a new international study, with prolonged exposure associated with nearly 1 in 5 premature births globally. The study, published recently in the journal Environment International, is the first global estimate of preterm births associated with pollution caused by fine particulate matter. This matter, known as PM2.5, is identified by the size of the microscopic particles and droplets it contains (2.5 micrometers in diameter or less), and it can reach deep into the respiratory tract. It is emitted by man-made sources such as diesel engines, industrial plants and the cooking fuels used mostly in parts of Asia, as well as by natural sources such as chemical reactions occurring in the atmosphere. Based on data from 183 countries, a research team from the Stockholm Environment Institute at the University of York extrapolated the impact of maternal exposure to different levels of outdoor pollution on preterm birthrates. The researchers concluded that PM2.5 was a “potentially substantial global risk factor” for a baby being born earlier than 37 weeks of gestation — a point in pregnancy that increases the risk of infant mortality and physical and neurological problems." "Former Member Of Trump’s EPA Transition Team Suggests Air Pollution Doesn’t Kill People" (Think Progress)
News Article | February 16, 2017
The study, which was led by a team from The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) at the University of York, found that in 2010, about 2.7 million preterm births globally -- or 18 per cent of all preterm births -- were associated with outdoor exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5). PM2.5 is especially harmful to human health, as it can penetrate deep inside the lungs. Results suggest that addressing major sources of PM2.5 - from diesel vehicles, to agricultural waste-burning, could save babies' lives and improve health outcomes. When a baby is born preterm (at less than 37 weeks of gestation), there is an increased risk of death or long-term physical and neurological disabilities. In 2010, an estimated 14.9 million births were preterm -- about 4-5 per cent of the total in some European countries, but up to 15-18 per cent in some African and South Asian countries. Scientists say the human and economic costs are enormous. There are many risk factors for preterm birth -- from the mother's age, to illness, to poverty and other social factors. Recent research has suggested that exposure to air pollution could also be a risk factor. A new study published in the journal Environment International for the first time quantifies the global impact by combining data about air pollution in different countries with knowledge about how exposure to different levels of air pollution is associated with preterm birth rates. "This study highlights that air pollution may not just harm people who are breathing the air directly - it may also seriously affect a baby in its mother's womb," said Chris Malley, a researcher in SEI's York Centre, at the University of York, and lead author of the study. "Preterm births associated with this exposure not only contribute to infant mortality, but can have life-long health effects in survivors." "This study adds an important new consideration in measuring the health burden of air pollution and the benefits of mitigation measures," he said. The largest contribution to global PM2.5-associated preterm births was from South Asia and East Asia, which together contributed about 75 per cent of the global total. India alone accounted for about one million of the total 2.7 million global estimate, and China for about another 500,000. Western sub-Saharan Africa and the North Africa/Middle East region also had particularly high numbers, with exposures in these regions having a large contribution from desert dust. "There is uncertainty in these estimates because the concentration-response function we used is based mainly on studies in the United States and Europe," Malley said. "Not only don't we know whether the relationship is the same at much higher concentrations, such as those found in some Indian or Chinese cities, but the prevalence of other risk factors also varies considerably. "Expectant mothers in many places are also exposed to high levels of indoor pollution from cooking smoke. Resolving these uncertainties will require more studies in these countries and regions." "To reduce the PM2.5 problem, you need to control many different sources, but in many developing countries, certain emission sources dominate," said Johan C.I. Kuylenstierna, co-author of the study, SEI's Policy Director. "This includes emissions from cooking with biomass fuels (which is also associated with very harmful indoor pollution), diesel vehicles and other transport, and particles emitted when agricultural residues are burned in fields." "In a city, maybe only half the pollution comes from sources within the city itself -- the rest will be transported there by the wind from other regions or even other countries. That means that often regional cooperation is needed to solve the problem.", Kuylenstierna added. "Our colleagues from countries such as Ghana, Peru, Nigeria and Bangladesh have highlighted the importance of air pollution impacts on health as a motivation for reducing emissions," Kuylenstierna added. "Knowing that reducing outdoor air pollution could help reduce preterm births provides a compelling new reason to invest in mitigation measures."