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Facts About Air Pollution

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Electric Car Pollution
Pollution Facts 1
Oil refineries increase air pollution by 40% when producing heavy oil
This page will focus on facts about air pollution as they happen. Population continues to increase. Development continues to increase. The number of  vehicles continues to increase. Air pollution continues to increase. Here are some of the regulations and results.


As air pollution increases, so do attempts to regulate it. In the best case, people would act ethically and self-regulate their emissions. This is not what happens. Enter the law.

For the first time, the US EPA will begin to monitor and regulate greenhouse emissions from power plants and other large industrial emitters. The rules apply to new construction and expansion, but are not welcomed by big business.

As mentioned, many large polluters (and a lot of smaller ones) do not self regulate until maybe the air reaches the levels of Mexico City (see below) 20 years ago.

In fact, newly minted Republicans have stated intentions to fight for the right to continue to pollute at current levels. They apparently want to breathe bad air. Democrats have vowed to keep it clean.

Honda estimates that by 2015 ren regs in China will mean it will sell only hybrids and other EVS there.

It is estimated that about 70% of the air pollution in
modern cities is tied directly to traffic.

Common sense might indicate that breathing noxious air is not too good for your health. Researchers are
constantly backing that notion.

Air pollution in the USA costs $4.3 billion while inducing 16,000 premature deaths annually according to work from the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. 

According to work by Physicists at the University of California, Berkeley, some 1.6 million people per year in China perish from breathing bad air there. This averages 4,000 people per day. Fatal pollution aggravated maladies turned fatal include heart, lung and stroke problems.

A report out of the Center for Biodemography and Population Health and the Andrus Gerontology Center at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles says that particulate air pollution causes cognitive decline in older adults. The study recently compiled the effects of varying PM 2.5 levels on some 780 participants who were 55 at the start of the study in year 2000.

Recent work shows that pregnant women in high pollution areas of Boston are 2.3 times more likely to have elevated blood sugar levels. More recent work has shown that kids waiting for rides in school zones are more likely to get a variety of illnesses from breathing tailpipe emissions.

Outdoor air pollution kills 350,000 to 500,000 people per year in China according to Chen Zhu, China health minister and molecular biologist. Air pollution has been listed as the number four health risk in the country following heart disease, dietary problems and smoking.

Air Pollution causes dry eye syndrome which means excessive tearing, discomfort wearing contact lenses, and stinging and burning in the eyes. People in New York and Chicago are 4 times more likely to be affected.

Some 2,700 people die each year from the polluted air in Tehran, Iran.

Women breathing air with even low levels of bad air are subject to the risk of having babies with lower weight than
average. This from work out of Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona, Spain.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) says that some 223,000 deaths per year can be traced to lung cancer caused by air pollution.

The University of B.C. says 21,000 Canadians exposed to constant air pollution die early each year compared to 2,400 in car crashes.

Sao Paulo, Brazil. A recent review by the Institute of Health and Sustainability says that air pollution there kills some 4,655 people per year as compared to 1,556 killed in auto crashes every year. In the whole country of  Brazil 15,000 people per year die from bad air.

Asthma on the Rise: In the Central Valley of California, Fresno area, one in five kids now has asthma. Some 75,000 children in Fresno have asthma, an increase from 50,000 in 2005.

Heart Trouble: Low levels of continuous air pollution commonly in the U.S. are bad for your heart health. "Long-term exposure to air pollution -- and especially fine particulate matter -- may be an important risk factor for atherosclerosis, a multi-city study suggested" This from recent work by Ranjini M. Krishnan, MD, of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues.

Air pollution is linked to depression and learning disabilities. The Ohio State University has supported research showing that air pollution actually causes physical changes to the brain. These changes are linked to
a list of health problems including memory loss. Inflammation from air pollution in the body induces changes that may be responsible for a depressed state.

Air pollution linked health problems then are a real time problem for people living in highly polluted cities and other areas. The effects on society are of course large and yet to be fully understood.

A new look at autism now indicates that living close to road induced particles may actually be linked to autism. Work by Heather Volk, lead researcher at the Keck School of Medicine at University of Southern California
has been published in the online in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Kids born within just 1000 feet (3 football fields) of a highway may be 2 times as likely to be autistic as those entering the world further away. This from a team of researchers at: Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) and the UC Davis MIND Institute.

Port of Los Angles Harbor communities are installing air filters in 40, that is forty, area schools. In five harbor communities 21.9% of children have asthma related to traffic induced air pollution.

Over 40% of US imports travel through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The result is extensive air pollution from the diesel-powered engines of ships, cranes, trucks and trains.

One other way to reduce this pollution is by using electric trucks to do the heavy lifting. Balqon is one company ready to come to the rescue.

In Salt Lake City, UT, expansion of the Kennecott copper mine is being challenged on the basis of the air pollution created. Medical experts cite average life span shortening of 7 years after breathing mining related air pollution.

If you think you will not be affected, think again. New information shows that air pollution from traffic increases the chance of heart attack for everybody (which means you too) breathing that air.

Breast cancer link: Another possible connection has been found between air pollution and breast cancer later in a woman's life. After giving birth, exposure to relatively high levels of air pollution may actually alter the woman's DNA methylation. In turn, levels of the cell adhesion protien E-cadherin may also increase. It's a complex chain of events, but bottom line: increased risk of breast cancer later on. Wow, who knew?

Cleaned Up

The good news is that air pollution can be cleaned up over time. If regulations are implemented and followed, everyone can breathe better in a few years. Take Mexico City.

Twenty years ago, it was said the air was so bad that birds would fall from the sky. Nearby mountains were hardly  visible. In 1991 there were 8 days with healthy air. This year there were over 190 good air days.

The cleanup was in part achieved by regulating private cars. Private cars now need to pass an emissions test every six months. The cars are not allowed to drive about city streets at least one day a week.

A no driving day is recommended on this site.


The US EPA is suing the St. Louis, MO, power company Ameren. The suit alleges illegal modifications to Rush Island power producing facilities. The modifications were not up to code and resulted in excess air pollution in the form of harmful sulfur dioxide emissions.

Political differences aside, military planners are very concerned about climate change. For starters, the US Navy has only a few ice breaking vessels to cover the entire Arctic Sea.

Next, that not all countries agree to the same definition of outer continental shelves as described under
the U.N. Law of the Sea Convention.

The National Academy of Sciences said recently "Even the most moderate current trends in climate,
if continued, will present new national security challenges for the the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast
Guard." It seems that a new Arctic rush from various nationalities for oil and tourism will require the Navy
to be present.

Five things to do about air pollution

1. Wear a mask. Surgical masks are commonly worn, but anti-pollution filter masks are better.
2. Do not exercise out of doors. When PM10 levels are over 300 work out indoors.
3. Leave town. This is an obvious choice, though not always practical.
4. Use public transport, drive an EV, or ride an eBike.
5. Talk about it, call an agency or official, write a letter.
    The world needs all the clean air it can get.
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Antipollution mask - looks almost as serious as the gas mask below.
Surgical mask:
cheap and popular but not
as good as the antipollution
Gas mask - if you see these, being worn, look out!
Air pollution fallout is not limited to cities or specific countries. In the USA, the famous Grand Canyon National Park is slowly filling up with smog, along with 150 other national parks.

It is reported that globally the effects of air pollution cost around $2.6 trillion per year at present, and as much as $25 trillion per year per year by 2060 according to work by the OECD. Some 3 million people per year could face pollution related deaths at present increasing to 9 million by 2016. Costs are related to sick care and lower food production.
Other mounting costs of air pollution include damages to land and structures. For instance, a look at air pollution and flooding finds that increased air pollution also increases the risk of flooding in mountanious areas of China. A team of atmospheric researchers led by Jiwen Fan has determined that air laden with heavy aerosols soaks up heat from the sun in the daytime. At night however, the rising warm air provides nuclei for water droplets, and bingo, lots of rain.
Link Here for a real time pollution map