Every year 24,000 people die prematurely because of pollution from coal-fired power plants.
Every year 38,000 heart attacks occur because of pollution from coal-fired power plants.
Every year 12,000 hospital admissions and 550,000 people suffering asthma attacks result from power plant pollution.
Every year, coal-fired power plants release 48 tons of mercury nationwide.
Power plants release over 40% of total U.S. C02 emissions, a primary contributor to global warming...
...and yet the coal industry wants you to believe that building more coal fired power plants in Michigan is a good idea!
...and now utilities want to burn (as biomass) our trees that capture and store harmful carbon dioxide and produce the oxygen we need to live
The Health Effects and Emissions from Burning Biomass and Coal | SMOKE & EMISSIONS | ASH & TOXIC WASTE | HEALTH EFFECTS
Including risks from diesel emissions from the trucks that transport biomass
The sentiment that woodsmoke, being a natural substance, must be benign to humans is still sometimes heard. It is now well established, however, that wood-burning emits significant quantities of known health-damaging pollutants, including several carcinogenic compounds. Two of the principal gaseous pollutants in woodsmoke, CO and NOx, add to the atmospheric levels of these regulated gases emitted by other combustion sources. Health impacts of exposures to these gases and some of the other woodsmoke constituents (e.g., benzene) are well characterized in thousands of publications.
Human Health Effects of Biomass Incinerators
Biomass is the only form of energy labeled renewable that requires continuous input of fuel – biomass- and requires a smoke stack for the continuous output- air pollution! What is coming out of those smoke stacks? The precise emissions from each of these biomass incinerators will vary somewhat depending on the nature of the fuel, the temperature of combustion and what sort of controls are or are or are not in place, but here are some of the typical common emissions. Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPS, 187 toxins known to cause cancer and disease, identified by EPA). Organic HAPS commonly emitted from biomass incinerators including styrene, acrolein, formaldehyde and acid gases hydrofluoric acid and hydrochloric acid. Also among the HAPS are heavy metals such as mercury and lead ...
Biomass burning related ozone damage
Biomass burning contributes significantly to the emissions of atmospheric trace gases carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and hydrocarbons. About half of the surface emissions of carbon monoxide are related to biomass burning causing ozone damage in the troposphere.
Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer
Detailed measurements from TES of the global tropospheric distributions of co-located O3, CO, water vapor, and nitrogen oxides are being used to investigate the impacts of biomass burning on air quality and climate. A vital aspect of calculating ozone (O3) and making better climate models is identification of the global concentration and distribution of carbon monoxide (CO). For example TES measurments reveal that the distribution of tropospheric ozone and carbon monoxide in the tropical Atlantic is closely related to biomass burning emissions.
Influence of biomass burning and anthropogenic emissions on ozone
Tropospheric carbon monoxide (CO), ozone (O3) and black carbon (BC) have a substantial impact on climate and air quality. CO, primarily emitted from combustion processes (also formed in substantial amounts from methane oxidation), strongly influences the abundance of the OH radical and thereby alters the lifetime of methane and other greenhouse gases. Moreover, it is a harmful pollutant (Conti et al., 2005) and an efficient greenhouse gas. Due to its direct impact on solar and thermal radiation, BC was recognised as an important factor contributing to global warming. Moreover, in the past decades many studies have revealed significant intercontinental transport of air-masses rich in anthropogenic pollutants or biomass burning emissions from North America to Europe. In particular, biomass burning (BB) represents a major source of atmospheric pollutants and climate altering (e.g. Crutzen and Andreae, 1990; Simmonds et al., 2005).
New Rules Issued on Coal Air Pollution
The Environmental Protection Agency is issuing the rules to replace a plan from the administration of President George W. Bush that a federal judge threw out in 2008, citing numerous flaws in the calculation of air-quality effects. Gina McCarthy, head of the E.P.A.’s air and radiation office, said the new rules would reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides by hundreds of thousands of tons a year and bring $120 billion in annual health benefits. Those benefits, Ms. McCarthy said, include preventing 14,000 to 36,000 premature deaths, 23,000 nonfatal heart attacks, 21,000 cases of acute bronchitis, 240,000 cases of aggravated asthma and 1.9 million missed school and work days. The new rules do not address power plant emissions of carbon dioxide and five other pollutants that contribute to global warming. The Obama administration is moving forward with a plan to phase in regulation of such heat-trapping gases, a move that is being challenged in Congress and in the courts.
Risk of COPD from exposure to biomass smoke: a metaanalysis
The First Affiliated Hospital, Guangzhou Medical University, 151 Yanjiang Rd, Guangzhou, Guangdong, 510120, China. Comment in: Chest. 2010 Jul;138(1):3-6. Abstract BACKGROUND: Although many studies have suggested that biomass smoke is a risk factor for COPD. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Latin American and Caribbean Literature in Health Sciences Database and analyzed 15 epidemiologic (11 cross-sectional and four case-control) studies that met our criteria. Data were extracted and analyzed independently by two investigators using a standardized protocol.
Air quality must be considered
I would like to extend a large "thank you" to the hard-working volunteer Traverse City Light & Power Board members for listening to citizen concerns.
A Citizens Guide to Participating in Michigan's Air Pollution Control Program
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) realizes that an effective public participation process depends on the contributions of its citizens. That is why we encourage you to be actively involved in this process by sharing your opinions and ideas about air quality issues that matter to you, your family, and your community. The public participation process is the way in which government agencies can address your viewpoints, concerns, and preferences about certain decisions or issues that are made within your community.
Toxicology: Acute Exposure to Fine and Ultrafine Particulate Matter
Facts: Smaller particles have proportionately greater surface area, per mass, than larger particles Smaller particles have greater velocity and can reach into deeper regions of the pulmonary region Smaller particles can better penetrate the increasingly narrow bronchioles and alveolar sacs, and can penetrate other tissues including capillaries and brain tissue
Traverse City Light and Power Publishes Biomass Health Impacts Report |
REPORT | MACTEC PROPOSAL
TCL&P has hired an engineering firm to publish a biomass for energy production health impact study. This study does not address the most serious health risks from substances such as ultra-fine particulate matter. It ignores dozens of other contemporary studies by reputable professional health organizations that point out clear and evident risks from producing energy from biomass. Also see background on report authors"
E.P.A. Tightens Its Sulfur-Dioxide Limits
June 3, 2010—The Environmental Protection Agency issued a new health standard on Thursday for sulfur dioxide emissions, the first such revision in nearly 40 years. Green A blog about energy and the environment. Go to Blog The agency said that the new standard, adopted under the Clean Air Act, would prevent 2,300 to 5,900 premature deaths and 54,000 asthma attacks a year. The agency estimates the cost to industry of adopting the new rule at $1.5 billion over the next 10 years, and the value of the health benefits at $13 billion to $33 billion a year.
Researchers calculate the greenhouse gas value of ecosystems
Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a new, more accurate method of calculating the change in greenhouse gas emissions that results from changes in land use. The new approach, described in the journal Global Change Biology, takes into account many factors not included in previous methods.
Mercury in Smoke from Biomass Fires
Abstract. Forest litter and green vegetation were collected in 7 locations in the contiguous United States, analyzed for mercury, and burned under controlled conditions at the US Forest Service Fire Science laboratory.
Biomass Industry Sees 'Chilling Message' in EPA's Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rule
U.S. EPA's final rule determining which sources will be subject to greenhouse gas permitting requirements does not exempt biomass power. Emissions from biomass or biogenic sources are treated the same as other sources of greenhouse gases in the final rule, EPA spokeswoman Cathy Milbourn said.
Wood Smoke Tables and Constituents
Health Effects of Wood Smoke Pollutants Wood Smoke looks at current known health effects of each known toxic pollutant in wood smoke. Keep in mind that "the dose is the poison". What may be relatively unnoticed by an adult in the short term may be a dose that is very damaging to a new or unborn baby, an older adult, or a vulnerable person with other health concerns.
Wood Fueled Biomass Power Plants and CO2 Emissions
Overall, wood fueled biomass power plants emit about 50% more CO2 per MWh than existing coal plants, 150% more than existing natural gas plants and 330% more than new power plants. Biomass is typically touted as a carbon neutral fuel and burning biomass is sold as “green” energy. The key assumption about carbon neutrality is unsubstantiated and impossible, yet is still repeated by biomass proponents. In fact, wood fueled biomass power plants are worse than coal for carbon dioxide emissions. Additional carbon impacts from wood fueled biomass power plants must be added since the forest’s ability to sequester carbon has been reduced through logging. A full accounting of carbon dioxide impacts from wood fueled biomass power plants would also include carbon emissions from the decay of forest root systems, oxidation of soil organic material as well as the use petroleum for logging of forests, chipping the wood, and hauling a large quantity of relatively small fuel loads at distances of a hundred miles or more in trucks that get about 5 miles per gallon. It is impossible for a biomass power plant that burns existing forests to be carbon neutral since any increase in forest cutting negatively affects the current baseline condition of forest growth versus cutting and mortality. Furthermore, it is the overall carbon emission input rate into the atmosphere from an energy source that matters, because overall carbon sequestration rates can not be expected to increase to make up for increased carbon inputs. With biomass burning of existing trees, the overall sequestration rate may even decrease because of the impacts on the forest. Forest Watch spokesperson Chris Matera said, “It really is crazy. Hundreds of millions of dollars in public so-called “green” energy subsidies are being wasted on dirty wood biomass burning of forests instead of going to genuinely clean energy sources such as solar, geothermal, appropriate wind and hydro and importantly conservation and efficiency. At a time when budgets are being slashed, we are throwing away scarce taxpayer money on a caveman technology that will worsen our problems, not help solve them.”
Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology | Vol 136-140, 2007 p 639-652.
If wood chips or wet agricultural ‘wastes’ or energy crops are to be removed from the land and brought to biomass burning and refining facilities in quantities sufficient to produce meaningful amounts of energy, then transport of that biomass will also prove a significant source of emissions. For example a standard 40 ton truck full of recently harvested woodchips will emit close to a kilogram (0.91kg) of CO2 for every km that it drives when delivering those woodchips for burning at a biomass electricity plant.[i] Even a 50MW plant would require 12,750 such truckloads per year.[ii] At an average distance for sourcing woodchips of 68 km[iii], that amounts to almost 790 tons (788,970 kg) of extra CO2 emissions per year just for transport of wood chips alone. While delivery of fossil fuels also involves energy and emissions costs these fuels have a far higher energy density so the ratio of energy expended on delivery to energy created is far better. Biomass delivered for production of biofuels rather than electricity will likely rack up a higher emissions for feedstock transport per unit of energy produced – partly because conversion to liquid fuels is an even less efficient way of liberating biomass energy and also because there will be a large quantity of leftover residue from biofuels production that will need to be hauled away elsewhere. Astonishingly there is now emerging an international trade in woodchips for biomass burning with woodchips sourced in the southeastern states of the US as well as Brazil, Congo and Ghana being imported thousands of miles to burn in wood burning power plants in Europe[iv] – a transportation endeavour that makes a mockery of any ‘carbon neutral’ claims.
[i] These calculations are based on a 40 tonne truck using 33-35 litres of diesel fuel per 100 km at an average speed of 72-74 km per hour where diesel fuel emits (source: OECD “Strategies to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Road Transport” 2002 – p61 ; Diesel per litre to co2 conversion available at http://www.acea.be/index.php/news/news_detail/what_are_the_main_differences_between_diesel_and_petrol/)
[ii] The example given here uses figures from the Russell Biomass plant planned for state of Massachussets – figures provided by Massachussets Environmental Energy Alliance at http://massenvironmentalenergy.org/plantdata.html. This assumes woodchips are carried at a standard 45% moisture content)
[iii] 68 km is derived from table 2 of Erin Searcy et al, “The Relative Cost of Biomass Energy Transport”, Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology Vol 136-140, 2007 p643. [iv] Stephen leahy “Energy: Trees: Out of the Forest and into the oven” IPS News, Sep 24 2009. Online at http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=48574
Biomass, Wood Waste, Coal, and Natural Gas Emissions by the Numbers
Comparison of three Relevant Air Emissions: Fossil fuels to wood burning biomass and “construction and demolition debris”
Carbon Dioxide Emissions Compared by Fuel
To calculate the CO2 emission from a fuel, the carbon content of the fuel are multiplied by the ratio of the molecular weight of CO2 (44) to the molecular weight of carbon (12) -> 44/12 = 3.7. Approximately environmental emission of Carbon Dioxide - CO2 - from the combustion of different fuels can be approximated from the table.
Biofuels cause four times more carbon emissions
Green fuels made from soy beans cause four times more climate-warming emissions than standard diesel or petrol, according to a European report into biofuels. Biofuels have already been criticized for causing food shortages in countries where land for rice or wheat has been displaced by fields of soy beans or sugarcane for fuel. Environmental campaigners say the latest report proves the renewable energy source is also bad for climate change, since carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that causes global warming. The report for the European Commission, released under Freedom of Information rules, looked into the "indirect emissions" from biofuels caused by land use change. The worse example is soy beans in America. Because the land that used to grow soy beans for animal feed is now being used for biofuels, it means that more soy beans must be grown in the rainforests of Brazil to make up for the loss in the domestic market.
Most Americans live in areas with unhealthy air
"More than 45 percent of the days in the 1990 ozone season were considered very unhealthy (in the South Coast area). The report estimates that nearly 30 million people live in areas with chronic levels of pollution so that even when levels are relatively low, people can be exposed to particles that will increase the risk of asthma, lung damage and premature death. About 24 million people live in counties with unhealthy levels of ozone, short-term particle pollution and year-round particle pollution, the report said, adding that new research shows the risk of health problems from pollution may be worse than once thought, especially for infants and children. The two biggest air pollution threats in the United States are ozone and particle pollution, the Lung Association said. Others include carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and a variety of toxic substances.
Thanks to Our Fossil Fuel Addiction, We May Be Setting Ourselves Up for a Catastrophic Natural Event
Too much CO2 in the air and not enough oxygen in the oceans may release a toxic dose of hydrogen sulfide -- an unheralded executioner.
How Stuff Works: Carbon Trading
The dramatic imagery of global warming frightens people. Melting glaciers, freak storms and stranded polar bears -- the mascots of climate change -- show how quickly and drastically greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) are changing our planet. Such graphic examples, combined with the rising price of energy, drive people to want to reduce consumption and lower their personal shares of global emissions. But behind the emotional front of climate change lies a developing framework of economic solutions to the problem. Two major market-based options exist, and politicians around the world have largely settled on carbon trading over its rival, carbon tax, as the chosen method to regulate GHG emissions.
Carbon Trading A Critical Conversation on Climate Change, Privatisation and Power
Carbon trading has two parts. First, governments hand out free tradable rights to emit carbon dioxide to big industrial polluters, allowing them to make money from business as usual. Second, companies buy additional pollution credits from projects in the South that claim to emit less greenhouse gas than they would have without the investment. Most of the carbon credits being sold to industrialized countries come from polluting projects, such as schemes that burn methane from coal mines or waste dumps, which do little to wean the world off fossil fuels. Tree plantations claimed to absorb carbon dioxide, in addition, often drive people off their lands and destroy biological diversity without resulting in progress toward alternative energy systems. This exhaustively-documented but highly-readable book, which has now been downloaded in well over 600,000 copies, takes a broad look at the social, political and environmental dimensions of carbon trading and investigates climate mitigation alternatives.
Fixing a Critical Climate Accounting Error
The accounting now used for assessing compliance with carbon limits in the Kyoto Protocol and in climate legislation contains a far-reaching but fixable flaw that will severely undermine greenhouse gas reduction goals (1). It does not count CO2 emitted from tailpipes and smokestacks when bioenergy is being used, but it also does not count changes in emissions from land use when biomass for energy is harvested or grown. This accounting erroneously treats all bioenergy as carbon neutral regardless of the source of the biomass, which may cause large differences in net emissions. For example, the clearing of long-established forests to burn wood or to grow energy crops is counted as a 100% reduction in energy emissions despite causing large releases of carbon.
The EPA Community Energy Challenge
The EPA Community Energy Challenge is an opportunity for municipalities across the nation to identify simple and cost-effective measures that increase energy efficiency and renewable energy use while reducing air pollution and saving money. The EPA will provide technical assistance to every community that chooses to take the challenge. By joining the challenge, a community must agree to assess energy use in its schools, municipal buildings or wastewater facilities and set a target for reductions (at least 10% lower than your baseline) in energy use intensity (energy use per square foot).
Biomass Energy and carbon emissions
The study also examines carbon emissions from energy biomass sources and from all forest activities,and finds that biomass is responsible for a total global emissions of 300 to 400 million tons of carbon a year.
Comparison of fine particle emissions from a small-scale biomass boiler and from a large-scale coal-firing power plant pdf
In this study we focused on comparing the particle number and mass size distributions and concentrations from a modern small-scale (7MW) biomass power plant and from a coal-firing large scale (360 MW) power plant fulfilling the current emission regulations.
Carbon Dioxide Regulation and its Impact on the Electric Utility Industry
Control of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) is receiving a great deal of attention within the U.S. Congress. While the science of global warming can be debated, there is no doubt that the ambient concentrations of CO2 are increasing, in part as a result of growth in the combustion of fossil fuels by vehicles, industry and power plants.
Air quality around elementary school draws complaints
01.27.10—Penny Dean didn’t have much of an opinion on wood burning until she dropped her granddaughter off at Woodriver Elementary on Tuesday morning. “It looked like we had smog, and the smell was tremendous,” she said, noting that there were two wood boilers near the school.
Reject biomass plant
Gainesville—A proposed biomass plant for your community will only make the poor air quality there even more hazardous. The Florida Medical Association, deeply concerned about the massive amounts of carcinogens belched from the smoke stacks of biomass plants and other incinerators, urges state government to minimize their approval and construction. (Ronald Saff, M.D., Physicians for Social Responsibility)
Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B, Volume 5, Issue 3 July 2002 , pages 269 - 282
This mini-review article brings together many of the human and animal studies performed over the last three decades in an attempt to better define the toxicological impact of inhaled woodsmoke on exposed children and adults; particular attention is given to effects upon the immune system. General information regarding occurrence and woodsmoke chemistry is provided so as to set the stage for a better understanding of the toxicological impact. It can be concluded from this review that exposure to woodsmoke, particularly for children, represents a potential health hazard.
Woodsmoke Health Effects: A Review
The sentiment that woodsmoke, being a natural substance, must be benign to humans is still sometimes heard. It is now well established, however, that wood-burning emits significant quantities of known health-damaging pollutants, including several carcinogenic compounds. Two of the principal gaseous pollutants in woodsmoke, CO and NOx, add to the atmospheric levels of these regulated gases emitted by other combustion sources. Health impacts of exposures to these gases and some of the other woodsmoke constituents (e.g., benzene) are well characterized in thousands of publications. As these gases are indistinguishable no matter where they come from, there is no urgent need to examine their particular health implications in woodsmoke. With this as the backdrop, this review approaches the issue of why woodsmoke may be a special case requiring separate health evaluation through two questions. The first question we address is whether woodsmoke should be regulated and/or managed separately, even though some of its separate constituents are already regulated in many jurisdictions. The second question we address is whether woodsmoke particles pose different levels of risk than other ambient particles of similar size. To address these two key questions, we examine several topics: the chemical and physical nature of woodsmoke; the exposures and epidemiology of smoke from wildland fires and agricultural burning, and related controlled human laboratory exposures to biomass smoke; the epidemiology of outdoor and indoor woodsmoke exposures from residential woodburning in developed countries; and the toxicology of woodsmoke, based on animal exposures and laboratory tests. In addition, a short summary of the exposures and health effects of biomass smoke in developing countries is provided as an additional line of evidence. In the concluding section, we return to the two key issues above to summarize (1) what is currently known about the health effects of inhaled woodsmoke at exposure levels experienced in developed countries, and (2) whether there exists sufficient reason to believe that woodsmoke particles are sufficiently different to warrant separate treatment from other regulated particles. In addition, we provide recommendations for additional woodsmoke research.
Conference:International Biomass Smoke Health Effects (IBSHE)
This publication and the IBSHE Conference were at least partially supported by funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Major topics of discussion included risk assessment, biomarkers of exposure, toxicology and animal study design, health outcomes measures/study design, and communications gaps. In this issue of Inhalation Toxicology, we present the findings from each of these breakout sessions in an effort to summarize what is known in these key areas, and to identify those emerging issues in the field of biomass smoke research. Exposure to biomass smoke has been epidemiologically associated with pulmonary disease, including asthma and respiratory infection.
Pesistent free radicals in woodsmoke: An ESR spin trapping study
Free radicals are detected in the gas-phase smoke resulting from the combustion of wood using the electron spin resonance (ESR) spin trapping method. The materials were pyrolyzed by rapid heating in a quartz tube in a flowing air stream. The filtered smoke was bubbled into a dodecane solution of α-phenyl-N-tert-butyl nitrone, and the resulting nitroxide radicals were detected by ESR. The radicals spin trapped from woodsmoke are compared to those we have spin trapped from tobacco smoke; the smoke from both yellow pin and oak produce more intense ESR spectra than does tobacco smoke per unit mass burned under the conditions of these experiments. When woodsmoke is bubbled through pure dodecane and the resulting woodsmoke/dodecane solution is held for a delay time before the PBN is added, radicals are detected even after the woodsmoke/dodecane solution is aged for more than 20 min. Similar experiments wiht tobacco smoke show that racidals no longer are trapped even after much shorter delay times from tobacco smoke/dodecane solutions.
Aquatic ecological risks due to cyanide releases from biomass burning
"Burning of biomass such as wood, grass, and leaves can release dangerous amounts of cyanide, which can poison water supplies. A study of wildfire in North Carolina fount that nearby streams were contaminated with 49 parts per billion of cyanide, a level high enough to kill rainbow trout. Forest and brush fires may play a major role in fish kill."
Sweden to examine health risks of burning biomass
For example related to power related biomass woodash use in Vermont in agriculture, as of a few years ago 3,000 cubic yards of woodash generated each year from a modest 50 MW[e] wood burning power plant in Burlington, was being mixed with manure and spread on fields maintained by "organic" food coops in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont to grow organic crops avoiding the
use of regular "chemical" fertilizers. This organic produce from fields being enriched in fallout Cs-137 (Radioactive Cesium-137) [and Sr-90] was being sold widely to organic food coops who have taken a very anti-food irradiation position being opposed to any "irradiated" food. Woodash from northern Vermont was found to contain about 15,000 pCi of Cs-137 per kg of ash in a study I conducted of fallout in woodash in 1990, which was presented to an annual meeting of the HPS . ["Nationwide Survey of Cs-137 in Wood Ash — Or Woodburner's and Organic Farmers, Is it Time to Kiss Your Ash Goodbye?, Washington, DC, HPS 1991 Annual Meeting, Washington, DC] CLICK HERE TO VIEW CESIUM-137 (Cs-137) DATASHEET | CLICK HERE TO VIEW STRONTIUM-90 (Sr-90) DATASHEET
Wood smoke exposure and risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Spain—Exposure to wood or charcoal smoke was strongly associated with COPD after adjusting for age and smoking. The association between length of exposure and COPD suggested a dose–response pattern. Intensity of exposure in both summer and winter was also related to COPD. Wood or charcoal alone independently increased risk of COPD (odds ratio (OR) 1.8 and 1.5, respectively), but only the combination of both was statistically significant (OR 4.5). In conclusion, the present study shows a strong association between wood or coal smoke exposure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, supporting its existence not only in developing countries, but also in European countries, such as Spain. Further studies assessing whether this association also exists in other European societies are warranted.
Fine particulate matter and cardiovascular disease
The 1996 EPA Air Quality Criteria for Particulate Matter relied in large part upon epidemiologic studies of the short-term (acute) effects of inhalable particulate matter (PM) exposures on all-cause mortality and hospitalizations with very limited experimental evidence from toxicology or clinical studies. Recent research has identified several plausible biological mechanisms for both the initial pulmonary injury and the consequent systemic effects. Current epidemiologic research interests include the component(s) of PM which are responsible for the initial pulmonary injury, the effects of co-pollutants such as ozone, and the pathophysiological mechanisms for PM-induced acute health effects.
Environmentally induced asthma
Asthma is characterized by inflammation, reversible airway obstruction, and increased airway responsiveness to various stimuli. Despite advances in understanding of the pathophysiology and in developing new treatments, asthma prevalence and mortality have been rising over the last decade, after a steady decline in the 1970s. Risk factors for environmentally induced asthma include air pollutants such as tobacco smoke and wood smoke. In controlled human chamber studies, asthmatics demonstrate increased susceptibility to outdoor pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and acidic particles with acute reductions in lung function during and following exposures; responses are enhanced by increased ventilation, for example during exercise, or breathing cold air and/or dry air.
Hardwood smoke alters murine splenic T cell responses to mitogens following a 6-month whole body inhalation exposure
The purpose of these studies was to assess the effects of hardwood smoke (HWS) inhalation (30–1000 μg/m3) on the systemic immune responses of A/J mice evaluated after 6 months of daily exposures. Spleen cells obtained from mice were assessed for changes in cell number, cell surface marker expression [B, T, macrophage, and natural killer (NK) cells], and responses to B cell (LPS, endotoxin) and T cell (Con A) mitogens. Results showed that HWS smoke increased T cell proliferation in the 100 μg/m3 exposure group and produced a concentration-dependent suppression of T cell proliferation at concentrations >300 μg/m3. There were no effects on B cell proliferation or in spleen cell surface marker expression. Analyses of the exposure atmospheres revealed the presence of significant levels of naphthalene and methylated napthalenes, fluorene, phenanthrene, and anthracene in the exposure chambers, as well as low concentrations of several metals (K, Ca, and Fe). Our results demonstrate that environmentally relevant concentrations of HWS may be immunosuppressive to the immune system of mice exposed during a 6-month period.
Inhalation Toxicology: Effects of Inhaled Ambient Particulate Matter on Pulmonary Antimicrobial Immune Defense
Respiratory-tract infection, specifically pneumonia, contributes substantially to the increased morbidity and mortality among elderly individuals exposed to airborne particulate matter of <10 µm diameter (PM 10) . These epidemiological findings suggest that PM 10 may act as an immunosuppressive factor that can undermine normal pulmonary antimicrobial defense mechanisms. To investigate whether, and how, compromised pulmonary immunocompetence might contribute to increased mortality, two sets of laboratory studies were performed. The first examined the effects of a single inhalation exposure to concentrated ambient PM 2.5 (CAPS) from New York City air on pulmonary/systemic immunity and on the susceptibility of exposed aged rats to subsequent infection with Streptococcus pneumoniae. The second set of studies determined whether CAPS exposure, at a concentration approximating or somewhat greater than the promulgated 24-h NAAQS of 65 µg/m 3, could exacerbate an ongoing infection. Taken together, results demonstrated that a single exposure of healthy animals to CAPS had little effect on pulmonary immune function or bacterial clearance during subsequent challenge with S. pneumoniae. Alternatively, CAPS exposure of previously infected rats significantly increased bacterial burdens and decreased percentages of lavageable neutrophils and proinflammatory cytokine levels compared to those in infected filtered-air-exposed controls. These studies demonstrate that a single exposure to ambient PM 2.5 compromises a host's ability to handle ongoing pneumococcal infections and support the epidemiological findings of increased pneumonia-related deaths in ambient PM-exposed elderly individuals.
Wood Smoke: Emissions and Repiratory Effects
Wood consists of approximately 50 to 70 weight percent cellulose, which are polysaccharides, and about 30 weight percent lignin, which is a skeletal network of branch-chain polymers that provide structural integrity. In addition, there are small amounts of resinous materials and inorganic salts. The lignin polymer consists of two main monomers, a guaiacyclopropane structure and a syringylpropane structure. Upon heating, these structures break apart producing a large variety of smaller molecules, many of which are part of the general class of oxygenated monoaromatics (89). Included in this class are methoxy phenols and methoxy benzenes, as well as phenols and catechols. This decomposition also produces benzene and alkyl benzenes. The presence of guaiacol, syringol and their derivatives as a group are unique to the burning of wood because they are a direct consequence of the destruction of the unique lignin structure. Of the trace elements, potassium is found at relatively high concentrations in wood smoke. In the past ten years, a number of studies have documented the outdoor concentrations of airborne particles resulting from wood burning. These studies are summarized in Table 2.
The Toxicology of Inhaled Woodsmoke
While biomass fuels are at the high end of the fuel ladder in terms of pollution emissions, they score low for combustion efficiency. Thus, effluents from these sources contain numerous toxic/carcinogenic components, such as formaldehyde and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), which at high exposure concentrations can cause serious health problems (Smith, 1987, 1993; Larson & Koenig, 1994; Nolte et al., 2001).
Epidemiology of fine particulate air pollution and human health: biologic mechanisms and who's at risk?
Based on preliminary epidemiologic evidence, it is speculated that a systemic response to fine particle-induced pulmonary inflammation, including cytokine release and altered cardiac autonomic function, may be part of the pathophysiologic mechanisms or pathways linking particulate pollution with cardiopulmonary disease. The elderly, infants, and persons with chronic cardiopulmonary disease, influenza, or asthma are most susceptible to mortality and serious morbidity effects from short-term acutely elevated exposures.
What Do Epidemiologic Findings Tell Us about Health Effects of Environmental Aerosols (PM2.5)?
In the last 10 years there has been an abundance of new epidemiological studies on health effects of particulate air pollution. The overall evidence suggests that fine particulate pollution can be an important risk factor for cardiopulmonary disease. Long-term, repeated exposure to fine particulate air pollution may increase the risk of chronic respiratory disease and the risk of cardiopulmonary mortality. Short-term exposures exacerbate existing cardiovascular and pulmonary disease and increase the risk of becoming symptomatic, requiring medical attention, or even dying. This paper outlines the results of the basic epidemiologic studies and briefly reviews and discusses recent studies that have looked at specific physiologic health endpoints in addition to lung function. A few recent, mostly exploratory pilot studies, have observed particulate pollution associations with blood plasma viscosity, heart rate, heart rate variability, and indicators of bone marrow stimulation.
Cardiovascular Effects of Fine and Ultrafine Particles
Epidemiological studies of the past decades have provided a strong body of evidence that elevated levels of ambient particulate air pollution (PM) are associated with increased cardiovascular and respiratory morbidity and mortality. Exacerbations of ischemic and/or arrhythmic cardiac diseases have been linked to PM exposure. At a workshop held at the GSF– National Center for Environment and Health in November 2003, relevant epidemiological and toxicological data of the past 5 years were compiled and potential biological pathways discussed. Available clinical and experimental evidence lends support to the following mechanisms mediating cardiovascular effects of inhaled ambient particles: (i) pulmonary and/or systemic inflammatory responses inducing endothelial dysfunction, a pro-coagulatory state and promotion of atherosclerotic lesions, (ii) dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system in response to direct reflexes from receptors in the lungs and/or to local or systemic inflammatory stimuli, and (iii) cardiac malfunction due to ischemic responses in the myocardium and/or altered ion-channel functions in myocardial cells. While an increasing number of studies addressing these questions support the notion that PM exposure is associated with cardiovascular effects, these studies at present provide only a fragmentary and at times inconclusive picture of the complex biological pathways involved. The available data are consistent with the occurrence of a systemic inflammatory response and an alteration of autonomic cardiac control, but evidence on endothelial dysfunction, pro-coagulatory states, and PM-related myocardial malfunction is as yet scarce. Further studies are therefore needed to substantiate our current understanding of the pathophysiological links between PM exposure and adverse cardiovascular outcomes.
Human exposure to complex mixtures of air pollutants
Human exposure to complex mixtures of polycyclic organic matter (POM) from the products of combustion contribute to the potential lung cancer risk in urban areas. The most ubiquitous emissions come from industrial and municipal sources that may also have a significant impact on human exposure to carcinogenic agents due to their high DNA adduct and tumor initiating potency. This review focuses on new approaches to assess human exposure to POM using source apportionment, personal exposure monitoring, and biomarker methods.
Where biomas burning is common: Comparative Health Impact Assessment of Local and Regional Particulate Air Pollutants in Scandinavia
The World Health Organzation review project on health aspects of air pollution in Europe confirmed that exposure to particulate matter (PM) poses a significant risk to human health. Using the recommended uniform risk coefficients for health impact assessment of PM, regardless of sources, premature mortality related to long-range transported anthropogenic particles has been estimated to be about 3,500 deaths per year for the Swedish population, corresponding to a reduction in life expectancy of up to about seven months. We are not happy with today's situation where every strategy to reduce PM concentrations is estimated to have the same impact per unit change in the mass concentration.
Aquatic ecological risks due to cyanide releases from biomass burning
"Burning of biomass such as wood, grass, and leaves can release dangerous amounts of cyanide, which can poison water supplies. A study of wildfire in North Carolina fount that nearby streams were contaminated with 49 parts per billion of cyanide, a level high enough to kill rainbow trout. Forest and brush fires may play a major role in fish kill."
Chemical Composition of Smoke from Burning Biomass
"Burning 1 kilogram of wood produced as much as 160 micrograms of total dioxins. Tetrachlorinated, hexachlorinated, heptachlorinated, octachlorinated dioxins were present. The isomers of the dioxins were separated and quantitated. The highly chlorinated dioxins were the major components. In the soot from a series of experiments, their total content ranged from 10 to 167 mg/kg of fuel. The total yields of tetrachlorinated dioxins (TCDDs) ranged from 0.1 to 7.8 mg/kg of fuel." [Science, Vol. 266 Oct. 21, 1994,T.J. Nestrick and L.L. Lamparski, Anal. Chem. 54, 2292 (1982)]. "...all measurements of wood ash with fallout-cesium exceeded - some by 100 times or more - the levels of radioactive cesium that may be released from nuclear plants (about 100 picocuries per kilogram of sludge).
Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases
In response to the FY2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 2764; Public Law 110–161), EPA has issued the Final Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases Rule. The rule requires reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from large sources and suppliers in the United States, and is intended to collect accurate and timely emissions data to inform future policy decisions. Under the rule, suppliers of fossil fuels or industrial greenhouse gases, manufacturers of vehicles and engines, and facilities that emit 25,000 metric tons or more per year of GHG emissions are required to submit annual reports to EPA. The gases covered by the proposed rule are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), perfluorocarbons (PFC), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), and other fluorinated gases including nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) and hydrofluorinated ethers (HFE).
Health Effects of Fine Particulate Air Pollution: Lines that Connect
There has been substantial progress in the evaluation of PM health effects at different time-scales of exposure and in the exploration of the shape of the concentration-response function. There has also been emerging evidence of PM-related cardiovascular health effects and growing knowledge regarding interconnected general pathophysiological pathways that link PM exposure with cardiopulmonary morbidity and mortality.
Biomass Fuels and Respiratory Diseases
Approximately 50% of the world population—close to 3 billion people are exposed to the harmful effects of these combustion products. There is strong evidence that acute respiratory infections in children and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in women are associated with biomass smoke. Lung cancer in women has been clearly associated with household coal use. Other conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in men and tuberculosis could be also associated.
Air Pollution from Coal and Biomass Fuels in China: Measurements and Health Impacts
Observed health effects include respiratory illnesses, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, weakening of the immune system, and reduction in lung function. Arsenic poisoning and fluorosis resulting from the use of “poisonous” coal have been observed in certain regions of China. Although attempts have been made in a few studies to identify specific coal smoke constituents responsible for specific adverse health effects, the majority of indoor air measurements include those of only particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and/or nitrogen dioxide.
Significant Reduction of UVB Caused by Smoke from Biomass Burning
There is an increased incidence of respiratory, cardiopulmonary and other diseases associated with severe air pollution. The bactericidal effects of solar UVB are well known, and significantly reduced UVB resulting from severe air pollution in regions where UVB levels are ordinarily high might enhance the survivability of pathogenic organisms in air and water and on surfaces exposed to sunlight.
The effect of tree plantations on greenhouse gases
CO2 emissions have increased in recent years in the cities of developing countries, due to heavy traffic and low quality fuel. In order to test if a significant proportion of carbon could be absorbed by urban trees, a study was carried out in the Pardisan Nature Park in Tehran, which covers 175 ha. All trees were inventoried and the annual biomass production of three principal species was measured. It was found that, including carbon stored in the soil, about 3.7 tonnes of C/ha/year were absorbed, equivalent to just over 2 000 litres of gasoline. It was thus concluded that the CO2 produced by the traffic could not be absorbed by the plantation and that other solutions should be sought.
Plant more trees and protect old growth trees to reduce carbon dioxide
The new study suggests that protecting old growth forests may be just as important as planting new trees in efforts to reduce carbon dioxide levels and fight global warming. Previously, researchers believed that only young, fast-growing trees absorbed enough carbon dioxide to be considered significant "carbon sinks." These forests need to be protected not just because they help to absorb carbon dioxide, but also because destroying them could release huge stores of greenhouse gases. The carbon cycle is a complex cycle that circulates carbon between plants, animals and soils. The exchange of carbon between living and non-living things is very closely balanced. About 100 gigatonnes of carbon is captured by plants and oceans each year and about the same amount is released back into the environment. But this natural balance is disturbed by human activities such as deforestation. Deforestation results in less carbon being removed from the atmosphere.