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UK government’s air quality strategy goes on trial Supreme Court to decide whether ministers need to produce a new plan to tackle poor air quality
New plans to tackle air pollution may have to be rushed through if the UK Supreme Court rules the current strategy is ineffective.

DelhiMove over Beijing, New Delhi has the world’s worst air pollution  According to air quality levels measured in 2014 by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1,600 different cities around the globe, the Indian capital city of New Delhi was found to be the worst. The WHO indicates the air pollution is 10 times higher than acceptable standards.

Longer-term thinking ‘needed’ on air pollution Warnings about dirty air come so often that only the most severe seem to catch anyone’s attention.

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Central, Western China Have Worst Air Pollution, Greenpeace Says

China’s central and western regions had the worst air pollution in the nation during the first quarter, according to Greenpeace East Asia.

Henan, Hubei, Hunan and Sichuan were among the 10 worst-polluted provinces in the three months ended March 31, Greenpeace said in an e-mailed statement.

The provinces are areas of the country where local governments have yet to enact stricter pollution controls.

The findings are based on the environmental organization’s analysis of air quality data from 360 Chinese cities during the period. Henan and Hubei have surpassed even Hebei, which is “notorious” for its pollution, according to Greenpeace.

Fighting pollution has taken center stage as Chinese politicians confront the task of starting to clean up the smog enveloping the nation’s biggest cities. President Xi Jinping has pledged an “iron hand” to protect the environment.

The government’s pollution control has improved air quality modestly in certain cities such as Beijing and along the coast, Greenpeace said.

The improvements are “the only silver lining in a situation where 90 percent of cities still record levels of pollution that far exceed China’s own air quality standards,” said Zhang Kai, climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia.

Beijing was China’s fourth-most polluted city in the first quarter, though the concentration of PM2.5 — fine particulates that pose the greatest risk to human health — improved more than 13 percent from a year ago, according to Greenpeace.

Average PM2.5 levels in the cities under study reached 66 micrograms per cubic meter, almost double the national standard of 35, it said.

via Central, Western China Have Worst Air Pollution, Greenpeace Says – Bloomberg Business.

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Breathing poison in the world’s most polluted city

Saharan dust, traffic fumes and smog from Europe may be clogging up London’s air at present – and causing alarm in the newspapers – but in the world’s most polluted city London’s air would be considered unusually refreshing. That city is Delhi, the Indian capital, where air quality reports now make essential reading for anxious residents.

In London last week, the most dangerous particles – PM 2.5 – hit a high of 57 – that’s nearly six times recommended limits.

Here in Delhi, we can only dream of such clean air.

Our reading for these minute, carcinogenic particles, which penetrate the lungs, entering straight into the blood stream – is a staggering 215 – 21 times recommended limits. And that’s better than it’s been all winter.

Until a few weeks ago, PM 2.5 levels rarely dipped below 300, which some here have described as an “air-pocalypse”.

Like the rest of the world, those of us in Delhi believed for years that Beijing was the world’s most polluted city.

But last May, the World Health Organization announced that our own air is nearly twice as toxic.

The result, we’re told, is permanent lung damage, and 1.3 million deaths annually. That makes air pollution, after heart disease, India’s second biggest killer.

And yet, it’s only in the past two months as India’s newspapers and television stations have begun to report the situation in detail that we’ve been gripped, like many others, with a sense of acute panic.

It’s a little bit like being told you’re living next to an active volcano that might erupt at any moment.

We began checking the air quality index obsessively.

Then, we rushed out to buy pollution masks, riding around in our car looking like highway robbers. But our three-year-old wouldn’t allow one anywhere near her face.

Our son only wore his for a day, and only because I told him he looked like Spider-Man.

Despite our alarm, many Delhi-ites reacted with disdain. “It’s just dust from the desert,” some insisted. “Nothing a little homeopathy can’t solve,” others said.

But we weren’t convinced.

When we heard that certain potted plants improve indoor air quality, we rushed to the nursery to snap up areca palms, and a rather ugly, spiky plant with the unappealing moniker, mother-in-law’s tongue.

But on arrival, the bemused proprietor informed us that the American embassy had already purchased every last one.

In any case, we calculated that to make a difference, we needed a minimum of 50 plants.

“We could get rid of the sofa to make room for them,” my husband offered.

Instead, we borrowed an air pollution probe from a friend to work out what progress, if any, we’d made.

Switching it on, our P-M 2.5 levels registered an off-the-charts 44,000.

My husband scratched his head, consulting the manual.

“This says 3,000 is hazardous.”

“It must be broken,” I said.

But it wasn’t, so we had to call in the experts.

One afternoon, a young man turned up with a small, free-standing air filter, specially modified for Delhi’s dust. He pressed a button, which activated something called a “plasma cluster”.

After 20 minutes, the numbers on our air monitor began to drop… precipitously.

My husband and I watched, mouth agape, as the readings went down from 44,000, to 20,000, then 11,000. Eventually, the probe settled around the 1,000 mark.

That’s still worryingly high by global standards… and that’s only the air inside our home. There’s nothing we can do about the air outside.

The government has announced that it will install more air quality monitors in Delhi and that it will ban diesel-belching vehicles more than a decade old.

But that’s a drop in the ocean compared to India’s pro-growth economic policies, which still rely heavily on subsidised, dirty diesel.

The trouble is on many days, you can’t see the pollution.

Right now outside my window is an intensely blue sky filled with flocks of lime green parakeets and frangipani trees just beginning to unfurl their waxy, fragrant blossoms and I find myself wondering if it isn’t perfectly OK to take my kids out to play football.

But in the past few months, at least a dozen families we know have moved away, either to cleaner towns and cities, or outside of India.

And although I’m still lulled by the reassurances of long-time residents – “Don’t worry – it’s nothing,” they chide – I am beginning to wonder if it isn’t time to think about moving too.

Compared to Delhi right now, London and even Beijing are looking like pretty good options.

via Breathing poison in the world’s most polluted city – BBC News.

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Study shows air pollution in Kaushambi ‘alarmingly high’

Air pollution in Kaushambi is alarmingly high, according to a study by the UP Pollution Control Board’s (UPPCB). The level of suspended particulate matter (SPM), released by local factories, is higher than permissible limits, while oxides of sulphur and nitrogen – byproducts of burning fossil fuels and vehicular emissions – are within it.

The results of the analysis, conducted by UPPCB on April 9 and 10, were disclosed on Thursday on the request of Kaushambi’s RWAs.

The Kaushambi Apartments’ RWAs (KARWA) had earlier complained to various authorities about rising pollution in Kaushambi due to its proximity to bus depots and a landfill site.

For the study, all the air samples collected by the board were from within the township. Average levels of PM 10 and PM 2.5 – ultrafine particulate matter with sizes less than 10 microns and 2.5 microns respectively – were found to be many times higher than permissible limits.

“Compared to the average figures for Ghaziabad as a whole, the levels are lower in Kaushambi. Oxides of sulphur and nitrogen are well within permissible limits and pose no imminent danger,” said a senior UPPCB official.

Extreme SPM levels in the air have had residents worried, because of a high incidence of respiratory diseases in the area. They had mailed an application to NGT, demanding appointment of a local commissioner to oversee the implementation of its orders regarding ban on diesel vehicles older than 10 years.

“A number of residents have complained of respiratory diseases. Doctors attribute it to high levels of air pollution in Kaushambi. Local authorities, including the municipal corporation and the district administration, should be held liable if they fail to rein in pollution-causing factories, which have been found to be the biggest culprits,” said KARWA president Vinay Kumar Mittal.

via Study shows air pollution in Kaushambi ‘alarmingly high’ – The Times of India.

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Stroke from poor air quality

Air pollution and smog have health consequences for affected populations ranging from respiratory problems to death. Fine particulate matter especially has become the focus in recent years, because it increases the probability of dying from respiratory or cardiovascular disease. In addition, the risk of stroke is increased, as shown by new research.

Air pollution and smog have health consequences for affected populations ranging from respiratory problems to death. Fine particulate matter especially has become the focus in recent years, because it increases the probability of dying from respiratory or cardiovascular disease. In addition, the risk of stroke is increased, as shown by Barbara Hoffmann and her coauthors in a recent study in Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2015; 112: 195-201). In a population of the German Ruhr region, she investigated how often stroke and cardiovascular disease occurred, as well as how much particulate matter and noise inhabitants were exposed to.

More than 4400 residents of Bochum, Essen, and Mülheim an der Ruhr participated in the study. Participants were selected over the time period from 2000 to 2003, and were aged between 45 and 74 years. Information regarding stroke or cardiovascular disease occurrence and/or associated mortality was collected annually. In addition, the authors evaluated exposure to particulate matter and noise according to participants’ place of residence. The results indicate that stroke is more likely to occur with increased air pollution. The results for coronary events are less clear, and exposure to noise pollution showed no clear effect. The authors point out, however, that the data indicates a tendency for increased risk of cardiovascular disease through particulate matter exposure.

via Stroke from poor air quality — ScienceDaily.

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UK government’s air quality strategy goes on trial

Supreme Court to decide whether ministers need to produce a new plan to tackle poor air quality
New plans to tackle air pollution may have to be rushed through if the UK Supreme Court rules the current strategy is ineffective.

In a landmark case, judges will today hear the culmination of a four year legal battle between the UK and EU courts over the country’s poor air quality, which has been blamed for 29,000 deaths a year.

Londoners suffered last week with some of the worst levels of air pollution seen in recent years. Yet the government has admitted the capital, along with the West Midlands and West Yorkshire, is unlikely to meet EU safe levels for air quality until after 2030 – two decades after the original EU deadline.

While ministers argued they should have more time to draw up plans to tackle nitrogen dioxide levels, the European Court of Justice last year ruled it should have proposals in place during 2015 so the time it takes to meet the legal requirements “is as short as possible”.

Air pollution campaigners hope the Supreme Court will order ministers to come up with a new plan to deliver urgent cuts to current levels of air pollution. The Supreme Court could also rule the Government must bring forward the date by which its targets have to be met.

ClientEarth, which brought the orginal case at the European Court of Justice, has called for the most polluting diesel vehicles, the main source of nitrogen dioxide pollution, to be removed from city centres.

However, campaign groups have insisted any new plan must include a host of measures to tackle air pollution in urban centres.

“The government should be forced to come up with an urgent action plan to stop people choking on dirty air and end this national disgrace,” said Jenny Bates, air pollution campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “It’s time to tackle the main cause of this pollution, which is too much dirty traffic, by encouraging cleaner vehicles and getting more people on to bikes, buses, trains.”

The government has repeatedly argued it is already delivering an ambitious package of air quality measures and is working to meet the European standards.

via UK government’s air quality strategy goes on trial – 16 Apr 2015 – News from BusinessGreen.

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Move over Beijing, New Delhi has the world’s worst air pollution

Delhi

New Delhi has been dubbed the worst city for air pollution on Earth.

According to air quality levels measured in 2014 by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1,600 different cities around the globe, the Indian capital city of New Delhi was found to be the worst. The WHO indicates the air pollution is 10 times higher than acceptable standards.

The city was found to have the highest levels of particulate matter, also known as PM 2.5, known to be most harmful to human health. PM refers to small solid or liquid particles floating in the air. These particles can be made up of different substances, including carbon, sulphur, nitrogen and metal compounds.

Cancer, heart disease and other chronic respiratory problems can all be an outcome of traffic-related air pollution. Reports indicate PM levels were found to be 50 percent higher on Delhi’s roads during rush hour than during ambient air quality readings.

“Delhi is a very green city,” Kamal Meattle, a Delhi-based air pollution activist told CNN. “But even the greenest areas of Delhi have extreme pollution levels.”

Experts say the city’s burning of bio-mass, industry emissions and coal-powered power stations can all be attributed to high levels of air pollution. According to CNN, there are roughly 8.5 million registered vehicles in the city and 1,400 cars are added to the city’s streets each day.

A national Air Quality Index (AQI) was launched recently by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The AQI is able to monitor pollution levels in real-time across major urban cities. New Delhi is one of 10 cities where data is available.

Last week The National Green Tribunal announced measures to try to combat air pollution in Delhi including an attempt to ban diesel-powered vehicles older than 10 years off the city’s streets.

via Move over Beijing, New Delhi has the world’s worst air pollution News – The Weather Network.

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Air pollution ‘largely responsible’ for rise in lung cancer cases in recent years: doctor

TAIPEI–Air pollution is largely responsible for an increase in the number of lung cancer cases in Taiwan in recent years, a doctor said Tuesday.

The latest statistics released Tuesday by the Health Promotion Administration (HPA) show that 11,692 people were diagnosed with lung cancer in 2012, which represented a 6 percent spike from the previous year. The increase among women was 11 percent, the data showed.

According to the HPA, smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke are both risk factors for lung cancer, while air pollution and exposure to cooking fumes can also cause lung cancer.

Tsai Chun-ming, director of the Division of Thoracic Oncology at Taipei Veterans General Hospital, however, said that the most direct cause of lung cancer is related to environmental factors such as air pollution and he urged the government to pay more attention to the problem.

Tsai also said that in recent years, the incidence of lung cancer has risen among people in the 30-40 age group, and in many cases, the cancer has already spread to other parts of the body by the time it is diagnosed.

According to the new statistics, the most common cancers in Taiwan are colon, lung, liver, breast and oral cancers, followed by prostate, gastric, skin, thyroid and esophageal cancers.

It is the first time that thyroid cancer has been included in the list of the 10 most prevalent types in Taiwan.

via Air pollution ‘largely responsible’ for rise in lung cancer cases in recent years: doctor – The China Post.

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Report: 15% of cancer cases in Haifa due to air pollution

Haifa

Some 15 percent of all cancer cases in the Haifa Bay area can be attributed to air pollution, according to a new Health Ministry report. The report, which covers the decade from 1998 to 2007, says some 780 cases of cancer in the Haifa Bay area, including 30 children, were related to exposure to air pollution.

In particular, the ministry notes that there were increased instances in the Haifa Bay area relative to the rest of the country of lung cancer and bladder cancer, both associated with air pollution.

The assessment is part of an opinion paper recently issued by the Health Ministry to the Interior Ministry official who oversees objections to planned development and construction. The opinion paper was released as part of the continued discussion of objections submitted to the National Planning and Building Council against a plan to build a new fuel storage depot in the Haifa Bay.

Last month the ministry issued a report that stated the existence of a causative connection between air pollution and increased instances of cancer in the Haifa Bay area relative to other parts of the country. That report came following an objection submitted to a different plan, to expand the Haifa Bay area’s oil refineries.

It was in response to that report that the ministry was asked by the National Planning and Building Council’s objections committee to submit its findings in greater detail.

One of the two objections submitted at the time was by an environmental epidemiologist, Ella Naveh, a Haifa resident. Naveh said that the construction of the fuel depot will mean that larger quantities of fuel will be transported through the area, which will increase health risks to residents.

This week the Health Ministry provided a more detailed report, written by the head of its public health services, Prof. Itamar Grotto. Grotto reiterated information released in the past, that from 1998 to 2007, the risk of contracting any type of cancer was 16 percent greater in the Haifa area than elsewhere in the country. “Out of 4,860 cases of cancer, an estimated 780 were cases of excess morbidity in the Haifa region as a result of exposure to air pollution. For children aged 0–14, out of 60 cases of cancer, it may be estimated that approximately 30 cases were excess morbidity in the Haifa region as a result of air pollution,” Grotto wrote.

Grotto noted that in those same years, the risk of contracting lung cancer in Haifa was 29 percent higher than other parts of the country, and the risk of bladder cancer was 26 percent higher. According to Grotto, the difference cannot be attributed to smoking, because the rate of smoking in Haifa is not higher than in the rest of the country.

A few weeks ago an epidemiological study was launched in Haifa, led by the Haifa Region Association of Towns for Wastewater and Environmental Quality, the University of Haifa and the Health Ministry. The goal of the survey is to assess the extent of the connection between pollution and illness in the area. However, the Health Ministry decided not to wait for the results of the survey, but to release its report on the causative connection between pollution and illness, as well as to quote the figures.

via Report: 15% of cancer cases in Haifa due to air pollution – Nature & Environment – Israel News | Haaretz.

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