Air pollution is a lethal blight that shames our politicians | John Vidal | Opinion | The Guardian


Three years ago I had a heart operation that will have cost the NHS tens of thousands of pounds, and which made me rethink how we lived and how I had got into this mess. I had always kept pretty fit, I thought: I ate well, loved exercise and had long stopped smoking. I thought I was active and healthy. So what else was there that could have contributed to my heart disease, Britain’s costliest and most prevalent killer, and the world’s greatest epidemic?

Last week came solid evidence that living in toxic Britain can seriously harm your health. Cardiologists at Queen Mary University of London found that even “safe” levels of air pollution are linked to heart abnormalities similar to those seen during the early stages of heart failure. Their study of almost 4,000 people was backed up by a major US study which showed that higher exposure to fine particles and nitrogen oxides is linked to an acceleration in the hardening of the arteries.

We have long known that air pollution leads to coughing, shortness of breath and irritation in the eyes, nose and throat. It is also clearly linked to respiratory diseases such as asthma and bronchitis, as well as diabetes and some cancers. But the more researchers look at people’s long-term exposure to air pollution, the worse the picture gets, and the more dangerous the minute particles and chemicals emitted by sources including fossil fuels are found to be. It is now beyond doubt that children’s health is greatly affected, and links have been made between it and Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, dementia and congenital birth defects.

 

Source: Air pollution is a lethal blight that shames our politicians | John Vidal | Opinion | The Guardian

Air pollution in Victorian-era Britain – its effects on health now revealed : The Conversation


BY 

Professor of economics, University of Essex

The health hazards of atmospheric pollution have become a major concern in Britain and around the world. Much less is known about its effects in the past. But economic historians have come up with new ways of shedding light on this murky subject.

In the early industrial age, Britain was famous for its dark satanic mills. And the industrial revolution, which did so much to raise income and wealth, depended almost entirely on one fuel source: coal. Coal supplied domestic hearths and coal-powered steam engines turned the wheels of industry and transport.

In Britain, emissions of black smoke were up to 50 times higher in the decades before the clean air acts than they are today. The great London smog of 1952, that prompted policymakers to act, killed 4,000 in the space of a week. But even that was not as dramatic as what went before.

Unregulated coal burning darkened the skies in Britain’s industrial cities, and it was plain for all to see. But air quality was not measured and monitored until well into the 20th century. And while soot blackened buildings and clothing, the effects of toxic air on health were not assessed, until recently.

In the absence of data on emissions, economic historians have come up with a novel way of measuring its effects. They combined coal consumption by industry with the industrial composition of the workforce to estimate annual coal use in each district. Not surprisingly, coal intensity was highest in the Midlands the north of England and in South Wales, and so this is where we should expect to see the worst effects on health.

Coal intensity in England and Wales, 1901. Bailey et al. 2016Author provided

Coal intensity linked to early death

As early as the 1850s, higher coal intensity was associated with higher death rates from respiratory diseases, especially among the old and the very young. An increase of just 1% in coal intensity raised the deaths of infants by one in every 100 births. Indeed, the effect of pollution in India and China today is comparable with that in Britain’s industrial cities in the late 19th century.

Geography mattered. Those located downwind from a coal intensive district suffered from their neighbour’s pollution. And communities in valleys surrounded by hills suffered more deaths as their own smoke emissions became trapped and concentrated.

Coal combustion also affected the health of those that survived. It led to repeated respiratory illness, slower growth during childhood and shorter adult stature. Although much of the variation in individual height is genetic, we can nevertheless compare the adult heights of those who grew up in more or less polluted districts.

The effect of atmospheric pollution can be measured by looking at men who were born in the 1890s whose heights were recorded when they enlisted in the British army during World War I. Their average height was five feet six inches (168cm), but 10% were shorter than five feet three (160cm).

Those who grew up in the most polluted districts were almost an inch shorter than those who experienced the cleanest air, even after allowing for a range of household and local characteristics. This is twice as much as the difference in adult height between the children of white-collar and manual workers.

The average height of men increased by about three inches (7.6cm) over the 20th century. Increases in height have been associated with gains in life expectancy, education, ability and productivity. Improved air quality may have helped almost as much as better hygiene or improved diet.

Recent scientific reports have warned that we face increasing pollution from a range of sources, especially vehicle emissions. Failure to maintain and further improve air quality risks jeopardising the improvements in health that have been achieved by technological advances and public policies over the last century.

 

Source : Air pollution in Victorian-era Britain – its effects on health now revealed : The Conversation

If you drive a diesel car you could soon have to pay up to £20 a DAY – Daily Record


It is reported that plans for a ‘toxin tax’, after repeated calls for a diesel scrappage scheme, will be unveiled to crack down on air pollution

Source: If you drive a diesel car you could soon have to pay up to £20 a DAY – Daily Record

WATCH: Delayed diagnosis and care of autism keeping minority children behind


Original post from Innovation Trail

‘…………..

Johnathan Casserly has autism spectrum disorder. CREDIT ANA CASSERLY
Johnathan Casserly has autism spectrum disorder.
CREDIT ANA CASSERLY

Autism spectrum disorder, better known as autism, is a condition where an individual struggles to engage in two-way communication, especially in social situations.

There is no “cure” for autism, and the cause may come down to hundreds of interacting factors, but we do know it is critical for people with autism to get the earliest possible diagnosis and get access to appropriate educational and medical resources.

(Video after the jump.)

Too Little, Too Late

While the number of children diagnosed is rising, minorities aren’t climbing at the rate of their white peers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports children of color can be diagnosed as much as 18 to 24 months later than Caucasian kids. And reports indicate that when African-American and Hispanic children are presented to doctors as showing signs of autism, they are more likely to be misdiagnosed as having another condition, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD.

Ana Casserly is from Colombia and now lives in Rochester, NY. She is the mother of a 16-year-old son with autism, and is also an advocate of Latino families who are fighting for their children’s educational rights. Casserly noticed something was a little off with her son’s behavior after his second birthday.

“The doctors used to tell me I just want to label my child. I said to the doctors, ‘If something is not wrong with my child, I will come back here and apologize to you,’” says Casserly.

Access Not Granted

Autism can look different in a white child compared to one of color, and experts agree cultural differences play a role. But there are also concerns that access to services depends on which community you’re a part of.

“There’s a lot of programs out there, do you think we know? Thanks to a friend of mine – she’s white – she’s the one who

The Casserly family. CREDIT ANA CASSERLY
The Casserly family.
CREDIT ANA CASSERLY

comes and tells me, ‘Look they’re opening this program or that program.’ And we had the same coordinator!” says Casserly.

Christopher Suriano works with the Rochester City School District. It’s his job to come up with new programs to help children with disabilities transition from kindergarten onward.

“I think in urban settings, we need to look at better access to community resources, and community centers that focus on students with autism. I feel that there’s a lack of resources for that particular disability,” says Suriano, “Suburban parents I think have more access to community resources as opposed to parents in Rochester.”

The School District has spent a lot on staffing but Suriano says there’s still an issue securing more bilingual special education teachers. Parents of children with disabilities often are not prepared to navigate the complexities of special education. And, if you add the barrier they face due to language, they begin to feel isolated and frustrated when seeking services for their children

“To be very honest with you, we don’t really have specific training around the different disabilities and the cultural aspects that would be impacting that student. We look at the student’s disability as a whole,” adds Suriano.

The Effects of Air Pollution on Autism

Environmental factors can also trigger autism. Recent studies by Deborah Cory-Slechta, professor of Environmental Medicine at University of Rochester, have linked air pollution to the onset of the disease. Cory-Slechta’s experiments demonstrate how exposure to air pollution early in life produces harmful changes in the brains of mice, including an enlargement of part of the brain that is seen in humans who have autism.

A 2013 study reported that children who lived in areas with high levels of traffic-related air pollution during their first year of life were three times as likely to develop autism. Minority communities are likely to be located near the aforementioned areas of the city.

“I would say it can contribute here. Those people probably experience different risk factors, so I might expect to see – and nobody’s done this study yet – higher levels of autism,” says Cory-Slechta.

Anecdotally, Ana Casserly says there’s a pattern of autism in her neighborhood that she links to levels of air pollution.

“The expressway is over there and we have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 kids with autism around here,” she adds.

Watch Sasha-Ann Simons’ report as aired on WXXI-TV’s Need To Know.

………..’

WATCH: Delayed diagnosis and care of autism keeping minority children behind


Original post from Innovation Trail

‘…………..

Johnathan Casserly has autism spectrum disorder. CREDIT ANA CASSERLY
Johnathan Casserly has autism spectrum disorder.
CREDIT ANA CASSERLY

Autism spectrum disorder, better known as autism, is a condition where an individual struggles to engage in two-way communication, especially in social situations.

There is no “cure” for autism, and the cause may come down to hundreds of interacting factors, but we do know it is critical for people with autism to get the earliest possible diagnosis and get access to appropriate educational and medical resources.

(Video after the jump.)

Too Little, Too Late

While the number of children diagnosed is rising, minorities aren’t climbing at the rate of their white peers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports children of color can be diagnosed as much as 18 to 24 months later than Caucasian kids. And reports indicate that when African-American and Hispanic children are presented to doctors as showing signs of autism, they are more likely to be misdiagnosed as having another condition, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD.

Ana Casserly is from Colombia and now lives in Rochester, NY. She is the mother of a 16-year-old son with autism, and is also an advocate of Latino families who are fighting for their children’s educational rights. Casserly noticed something was a little off with her son’s behavior after his second birthday.

“The doctors used to tell me I just want to label my child. I said to the doctors, ‘If something is not wrong with my child, I will come back here and apologize to you,’” says Casserly.

Access Not Granted

Autism can look different in a white child compared to one of color, and experts agree cultural differences play a role. But there are also concerns that access to services depends on which community you’re a part of.

“There’s a lot of programs out there, do you think we know? Thanks to a friend of mine – she’s white – she’s the one who comes and tells me, ‘Look they’re opening this program or that program.’ And we had the same coordinator!” says Casserly.

Christopher Suriano works with the Rochester City School District. It’s his job to come up with new programs to help children with disabilities transition from kindergarten onward.

“I think in urban settings, we need to look at better access to community resources, and community centers that focus on students with autism. I feel that there’s a lack of resources for that particular disability,” says Suriano, “Suburban parents I think have more access to community resources as opposed to parents in Rochester.”

The School District has spent a lot on staffing but Suriano says there’s still an issue securing more bilingual special education teachers. Parents of children with disabilities often are not prepared to navigate the complexities of special education. And, if you add the barrier they face due to language, they begin to feel isolated and frustrated when seeking services for their children

“To be very honest with you, we don’t really have specific training around the different disabilities and the cultural aspects that would be impacting that student. We look at the student’s disability as a whole,” adds Suriano.

The Effects of Air Pollution on Autism

Environmental factors can also trigger autism. Recent studies by Deborah Cory-Slechta, professor of Environmental Medicine at University of Rochester, have linked air pollution to the onset of the disease. Cory-Slechta’s experiments demonstrate how exposure to air pollution early in life produces harmful changes in the brains of mice, including an enlargement of part of the brain that is seen in humans who have autism.

A 2013 study reported that children who lived in areas with high levels of traffic-related air pollution during their first year of life were three times as likely to develop autism. Minority communities are likely to be located near the aforementioned areas of the city.

“I would say it can contribute here. Those people probably experience different risk factors, so I might expect to see – and nobody’s done this study yet – higher levels of autism,” says Cory-Slechta.

Anecdotally, Ana Casserly says there’s a pattern of autism in her neighborhood that she links to levels of air pollution.

“The expressway is over there and we have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 kids with autism around here,” she adds.

Watch Sasha-Ann Simons’ report as aired on WXXI-TV’s Need To Know.

…………….’

Fine particulate air pollution linked to risk of childhood autism


Original post from Science Daily

‘…………..

Date:    May 21, 2015

Source:    University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Summary:    Exposure to fine particulate air pollution during pregnancy through the first two years of the child’s life may be associated with an increased risk of a child developing autism spectrum disorder, a condition that affects one in 68 children, according to an investigation of children in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Fine particulate air pollution refers to particles found in the air that are less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, or 1/30th the average width of a human hair. It can be found in dust, dirt, soot and smoke. Credit: © Iliana Mihaleva / Fotolia
Fine particulate air pollution refers to particles found in the air that are less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, or 1/30th the average width of a human hair. It can be found in dust, dirt, soot and smoke.
Credit: © Iliana Mihaleva / Fotolia

Exposure to fine particulate air pollution during pregnancy through the first two years of a child’s life may be associated with an increased risk of the child developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a condition that affects one in 68 children, according to a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health investigation of children in southwestern Pennsylvania.

The research is funded by The Heinz Endowments and published in the July edition of Environmental Research.

“Autism spectrum disorders are lifelong conditions for which there is no cure and limited treatment options, so there is an urgent need to identify any risk factors that we could mitigate, such as pollution,” said lead author Evelyn Talbott, Dr.P.H., professor of epidemiology at Pitt Public Health. “Our findings reflect an association, but do not prove causality. Further investigation is needed to determine possible biological mechanisms for such an association.”

Dr. Talbott and her colleagues performed a population-based, case-control study of families with and without ASD living in six southwestern Pennsylvania counties. They obtained detailed information about where the mothers lived before, during and after pregnancy and, using a model developed by Pitt Public Health assistant professor and study co-author Jane Clougherty, Sc.D., were able to estimate individual exposure to a type of air pollution called PM2.5.

This type of pollution refers to particles found in the air that are less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, or 1/30th the average width of a human hair. PM2.5 includes dust, dirt, soot and smoke. Because of its small size, PM2.5 can reach deeply into the lungs and get into the blood stream. Southwestern Pennsylvania has consistently ranked among the nation’s worst regions for PM2.5 levels, according to data collected by the American Lung Association.

“There is increasing and compelling evidence that points to associations between Pittsburgh’s poor air quality and health problems, especially those affecting our children and including issues such as autism spectrum disorder and asthma,” said Grant Oliphant, president of The Heinz Endowments. “While we recognize that further study is needed, we must remain vigilant about the need to improve our air quality and to protect the vulnerable. Our community deserves a healthy environment and clean air.”

Autism spectrum disorders are a range of conditions characterized by social deficits and communication difficulties that typically become apparent early in childhood. Reported cases of ASD have risen nearly eight-fold in the last two decades. While previous studies have shown the increase to be partially due to changes in diagnostic practices and greater public awareness of autism, this does not fully explain the increased prevalence. Both genetic and environmental factors are believed to be responsible.

Dr. Talbott and her team interviewed the families of 211 children with ASD and 219 children without ASD born between 2005 and 2009. The families lived in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Washington and Westmoreland counties. Estimated average exposure to PM2.5 before, during and after pregnancy was compared between children with and without ASD.

Based on the child’s exposure to concentrations of PM2.5 during the mother’s pregnancy and the first two years of life, the Pitt Public Health team found that children who fell into higher exposure groups were at an approximate 1.5-fold greater risk of ASD after accounting for other factors associated with the child’s risk for ASD — such as the mother’s age, education and smoking during pregnancy. This risk estimate is in agreement with several other recent investigations of PM2.5 and autism.

A previous Pitt Public Health analysis of the study population revealed an association between ASD and increased levels of air toxics, including chromium and styrene. Studies by other institutions using different populations also have associated pollutants with ASD.

“Air pollution levels have been declining since the 1990s; however, we know that pockets of increased levels of air pollution remain throughout our region and other areas,” said Dr. Talbott. “Our study builds on previous work in other regions showing that pollution exposures may be involved in ASD. Going forward, I would like to see studies that explore the biological mechanisms that may underlie this association.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Evelyn O. Talbott, Vincent C. Arena, Judith R. Rager, Jane E. Clougherty, Drew R. Michanowicz, Ravi K. Sharma, Shaina L. Stacy. Fine particulate matter and the risk of autism spectrum disorder. Environmental Research, 2015; 140: 414 DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2015.04.021

Cite This Page:

MLA

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. “Fine particulate air pollution linked to risk of childhood autism.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 May 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150521121049.htm>.  ……..’