Saturday, August 19, 2017

Air Pollution Solutions

Despite having advanced technology, not everyone has access to the same resources. Sadly, the people who need to be aware are often the ones who aren’t. When it comes to air pollution, there are many ways to help attack the problem and it starts by talking about it.

Informing the public of how bad the air continues to get, would be a start. Although it may seem that the citizens of India should know by now the living conditions they’re enduring – some have become accustom to this way of living. Wearing a face mask can only do so much but prolong the health effects that will begin to show soon, such as (but notlimited to); Lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, and an increase risk for acute respiratory infections and exacerbates asthma.
Another way to help fight this dilemma is to educate health professionals through training programs, or other organizations. This way, they are better equipped with knowledge regarding diseases that people are beginning to show.

Most importantly, the government needs to take action so that the citizens feel the urge to do follow. There’s news that, “a $20 million finance initiative to help fund renewable energy in India – though it’s unclear whether that initiative will remain under President-elect Trump, who has pledged to ‘cancel all wasteful climate change spending’” as reported by Think Progress. 

Of course another option, is for the local citizens to start taking action within their own lives. That's very true. How can this be down when residents of India who are already on the low socioeconomic status spectrum have odds stacked against them? 

India: Choking on air

Over the last year, schools in New Delhi have begun to close. Due to the poor quality of air throughout India, smog, dust, and other chemicals continue to add to the already hazardous air. When it comes to air quality, it’s no secret that New Delhi is one of the most lethal cities in the world. This doesn’t take away from the fact that everyone in India is in danger of illnesses, which may lead to premature deaths. This fear has caused government officials to close down an estimated 1,800 schools – meaning that about a million students are missing out on their education. 

Another major issue are the health concerns that are rising. Burning eyes, coughing, and other symptoms are appearing more and more often. This is more frequent among kids, and the elderly. Unfortunately, those who are too poor to relocate are also being affected. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) global urban air quality database, “About 98% of cities in low- and middle-income countries with more than 100,000 inhabitants do not meet norms set out in the WHO air quality guidelines”

A recent study found that annually, “direct and indirect costs of chronic lung disease in India to be between $800-$1400 – India’s median per capita income is only about $600”. What will happen to these citizens' health as the air pollution continues to damage their organs? How will an entire country deal with this financially? Are we next?

Air pollution, inflammation and preterm birth in Mexico City

Preterm birth is one of the leading causes of perinatal mortality and is associated with long-term adverse health consequences for surviving infants. Preterm birth rates are rising worldwide, and no effective means for prevention currently exists. Air pollution exposure may be a significant cause of prematurity, but many published studies lack the individual, clinical data needed to elucidate possible biological mechanisms mediating these epidemiological associations.

We are enrolling a cohort of 800 pregnant women living in Mexico City. These women, who reside in diverse regions of metropolitan Mexico City, are seen monthly over the course of their pregnancy, clinical and behavioral information gathered, and pro-and anti-inflammatory cytokines in monthly cervico-vaginal exudates and blood samples assayed

Preterm birth is a major public health problem of global consequence which may be influenced by exposure to air pollution. Therefore, understanding the mediating inflammatory and infectious pathways, using study designs such as the one described here, would provide further insights on mechanistic pathways linking pollution to adverse birth outcomes and potentially inform prevention efforts. 

Air pollution and preterm birth in Mexico City: summary of data collection
Air pollution and preterm birth in Mexico City: summary of data collection.

Health impacts of power-exporting plants in northern Mexico

In the past two decades, rapid population and economic growth on the U.S.–Mexico border has spurred a dramatic increase in electricity demand. In response, American energy multinationals have built power plants just south of the border that export most of their electricity to the U.S. This development has stirred considerable controversy because these plants effectively skirt U.S. air pollution regulations in a severely degraded international airshed. Yet to our knowledge, this concern has not been subjected to rigorous scrutiny. This paper uses a suite of air dispersion, health impacts, and valuation models to assess the human health damages in the U.S. and Mexico caused by air emissions from two power-exporting plants in Mexicali, Baja California. We find that these emissions have limited but nontrivial health impacts, mostly by exacerbating particulate pollution in the U.S., and we value these damages at more than half a million dollars per year. These findings demonstrate that power-exporting plants can have cross-border health effects and bolster the case for systematically evaluating their environmental impacts.

Location of Integen and Sempra power plants in Mexicali, Baja California and air quality modeling domain (36 km, 12 km, and 4 km grids).

Efforts to increase Serbia's air quality are on the way


The Serbian Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) prepares a national State of the Environment (SOE) report every year. This report is integral in the field of environmental protection because its role is to support decision makers as well as to provide environmental information to the scientific community and the general public.The key results found in the SOE say that air quality, air emissions, surface and ground water quality and soil quality are below the safe threshold. Also the protected areas cover just 5.91% of total area, which is insufficient based on national targets of 12%. However in the last 5 years or so, plans have been integrated to help increase quality in every aspect of the environment and for now we can only hope that they continue to work on it. 
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Friday, August 18, 2017

Communities React to Lack of Governmental Support in Mexico City

Until 1997, city politics was dominating by an “overbearing one-party system that discouraged independent grass-roots organizing” (Preston Online), causing many of the citizens to become entirely discouraged with the political system.  Although the government was aware the problem existed, it was made quite clear that the residents would not have much say in say in bringing about change.  Since the residents did not believe they could bring about change in a problem as pervasive as smog, they never made any effort.  “Of course it bothers us,” said Alejandra Perez, a Nezahualcoyotl resident. “But we don’t do anything about it.  No one in power would pay attention to us if we did.”
One reason why the government has not fully dealt with the issue of pollution is that there are many other problems for the residents of Mexico City.  An example of such an issue is a problem that Isabel Bustamante must deal with everyday.  After 30 years in her house, she still has no running water (Preston Online).  The Mexican government has many problems to deal with and pollution is just one of them. 
Many changes the government makes are met with hesitance on the part of the people if they perceive the changes as an inconvenience. Every time the government takes cars off of the streets, there are many complaints from the countless motorists who are forced into using Mexico City’s poor public transportation.  Not all of the people in the city are aware of just how dangerous their predicament is.  “People in this city would rather drive than breathe,” says Alejandro Encinas, the city’s Environment Secretary (Preston Online).  Although this is an exaggeration, a lack of environmental awareness is evident in the actions of many citizens of Mexico City.
            This lack of education stems from the government not making information available to the citizens.  On a day when the city officials had declared a smog emergency, meaning people should not exercise, one citizen, Andres Altamirano was defiant.  He was riding his bicycle and planning to run and play soccer later in the day.  “Just because there’s pollution we’re not going to stop practicing sports,” he said (Guggenheim Online).  Although nothing positive can come out of playing sports for Andres Altamirano on a smog emergency day, it seems as though he, and many of the other people in Mexico City, have basically given up.

Hello Hybrid! Reducing Pollutants in Brazil

Its no secret that Brazil's large population has contributed to the current suffering air quality. But recently, major steps are being made to ensure that this does not become the norm for the future.

Recently, UNICA announced that Hybrid cars will be coming to Brazil. This will allow Brazilians to engage in a more sustainable, more air friendly option for travel. Regulators has reduced the amount of ethanol available in Brazil. Regulators hope that these cuts will lead to a natural, seamless turn to more plug in vehicles being adopted.

The largest concern for many when considering hybrid and sustainable options is the cost. This is the same case for Brazil. Although Brazil is not considered an impoverished country, many individuals do not have disposable income to spend on more expensive options that might reduce emissions. To accommodate the financial climate of Brazil, leaders are attempting to collaborate on making vehicles that might be more cost efficient.

Portuguese design and engineering firm, CEiiA, is working tirelessly to provide a cheaper hybrid option for Portuguese and Brazilian residents. The process may take a while, but CEiiA is hopeful they can bring a more sustainable automobile to South America for under $8,000. While efforts do look hopeful, only time will tell if the automobile efforts strides will turn into a full spring for improved air conditions in Brazil.

To learn more about UNICA and they're plans to introduce more Hybrid option to Brazil, click on the link below!

Click HERE