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 from Burning Biomass and Coal | SMOKE & EMISSIONS | ASH & TOXIC WASTE
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.
Also click on these sections for additional information: | SMOKE & EMISSIONS | ASH & TOXIC WASTE
Clean versus Treated/Contaminated Wood Residues | Source Michigan DNRE
The quality of wood residue going into a combustion or gasification system determines what comes out—in terms of energy, emissions and non-combusted residues/ash. The use of certain waste streams such as sewage sludge, recovered domestic and municipal waste and construction wood residue are particularly prone to contamination. In addition, even small amounts of some contaminants can lead to significant toxic emissions and health hazards, depending on the technology in use. Treated woods in particular contain chemicals that create dangerous emissions and have other harmful properties to the energy process.
Professional Organizations and Health Care Providers
Climate Change and Your Health: Rising Temperatures, Worsening Ozone Pollution | cause burning fossil fuels and biomass
Union of Concerned Scientists
Report demonstrates how climate change could increase "bad" ozone, threatening health and economy. Millions of Americans suffer from the harmful effects of ground-level ozone pollution—be they children too sick to go to school, high school football players not allowed to practice outdoors in the summer, 65-year-olds with lung disease unable to take a walk in the park, or farmers at risk when they harvest their fields. Not only does ozone pollution cause a number of serious breathing problems, and therefore a great deal of suffering, it also is damaging in monetary terms. Whether tallying up the dollars lost to sick days or the high costs of emergency-room visits, ozone pollution is expensive.
The choices we make today about the way we live, the energy we use, and the pollution we release will make a difference for the health and well-being of ourselves, our children, and our descendants long into the future.
NW Michigan Doctors: Biomass may be harmful to health
TRAVERSE CITY — A group of local doctors raised concerns about the health impact of a proposed biomass power plant. The Traverse City Light & Power board in April voted to pursue plans for a wood-burning plant. But area physicians and medical personnel pointed out potentially harmful health effects associated with air pollution from such a plant. Exposure to particulate matter can harm the heart and lung. An early May letter to the planning and city commission signed by nearly a dozen local medical professionals asked city commissioners to vote against the Light & Power budget in June "until further specific data regarding emissions is provided and the potential human health and local air quality impact is analyzed." Particulate matter can impair the lung's defenses and increase inflammation in the airways, said Karen Kain, a pulmonary education specialist and president of the Asthma Coalition of Northwest Michigan. "We have seen that it's the particulate matter that is the culprit, and we've seen increased use of asthmatic medication in children because with increase particulate matter levels (there is a) decline in respiratory function," Kain said.
University of Michigan Dioxin Study
This is the initial report of the University of Michigan Dioxin Exposure Study (UMDES). Dioxins are a family of chemicals that includes three different groups: polychlorinated dioxins, polychlorinated furans, and certain PCBs. They can be produced by combustion and industrial processes – often as unwanted byproducts. They are of concern because they have toxic effects in common. One of the specific dioxins, called 2,3,7,8-TCDD, is known to cause cancer in people, and others are suspected to be human carcinogens. Animal studies suggest that dioxins may cause reproductive, immune or developmental effects. Other health effects are also suspected.
Make smarter choice for energy
As a physician residing and caring for patients in the Traverse City area, I am deeply concerned about the potential health impact of a biomass plant in our region. Known gaseous byproducts of burning biomass fuels are carbon monoxide, benzene, toluene and other known toxic and cancer-causing chemicals. In addition, the ash residue of biomass emissions has an adverse health impact on human lungs and particularly those individuals with chronic lung disease such as asthma or emphysema. Let us learn from other societies who have implemented biomass energy and what has resulted in the environment in those regions, for example, South Asia. The "Asian Brown Cloud" is a layer of air pollution that extends for miles in the sky that covers South Asia. The contents of this have been studied and have been scientifically proven to have been largely a result of biomass energy. A scientific health study performed in 2002 indicated that nearly 2 million people die each year in India alone due to the health implications of this brown cloud. We have already polluted our Great Lakes waters which has resulted in the current fish consumption health advisory recommendation that pregnant women and women of childbearing age not consume more than two fish meals per month.
New scientific information regarding air pollution with relevance to biomass incinerators - by Dr. Laura Shea
Dear City Commissioners, I have sent you previous correspondence regarding my concerns of the adverse health impact and wanted to keep you apprised of some very recent landmark developments with respect to particulate matter air pollution. There was a scientific position statement published last week in a prominent medical journal summarizing the health impact of particulate matter air pollution and asserting new health care recommendations based upon the recent research. As a result of this article and the forthcoming recommendations, members of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the American Heart Association were on Capitol Hill last week reviewing this material with lawmakers in a Congressional briefing. I suspect this information will affect the regulation of clean air as well as public health recommendations to reduce air pollution exposure. Here is a link for lay persons describing this new information for your review. Air Pollution Increases Heart Attack, Stroke Risk A few new strong position points are being made by the American Heart Association in this publication...
American Heart Association Issues Strong Warning
"Particulate matter appears to directly increase risk by triggering events in susceptible individuals within hours to days of an increased level of exposure, even among those who otherwise may have been healthy for years," said Robert D. Brook, M.D. Exposure to fine particulate matter over a few hours or weeks can trigger cardiovascular deaths, heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and irregular heartbeats, especially in susceptible individuals Long-term exposure to elevated concentrations of fine particulate matter even further increases cardiovascular risk and reduces life expectancy probably by several months to a few years for those with higher exposures. The major source of small particulate matter known as PM2.5 is fossil fuel combustion from industry, diesel trucks, and power generation (Biomass burning).
American Lung Association Opposes Biomass pdf
The American Lung Association views biomass burning as a significant source of air pollution. Burning wood, like burning any other substance, releases toxic chemicals and particles which can negatively affect both the environment and respiratory health. In particular, biomass emissions contain fine particulate matter, sulfur oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and various irritant gases such as nitrogen oxides that can scar the lungs. Like cigarettes, biomass emissions also contain chemicals that are known or suspected to be carcinogens, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and dioxin. For vulnerable populations, such as people with asthma, chronic respiratory disease, and those with cardiovascular disease, biomass and diesel emissions are particularly harmful. Even short exposures can prove deadly.
American Lung Association of the Southeast, Inc.
Policy Statement on Healthy Energy 1. Goal: The air we breathe does not cause or worsen lung disease. 2. Position: The American Lung Association of New England (ALANE) believes it is critically important to reduce the harmful impacts of energy consumption on public health and the environment. ALANE believes society must reduce its dependence on fossil fuel for electricity generation and transportation through 1) using energy more efficiently, and 2) increasing our reliance on clean, renewable energy sources, often called green energy...
Letter to Traverse City from a local physician concerned about the healh impacts of biomass
Dear City Commissioners and City Manager, I have had email correspondence with Jim Carruthers sharing my concerns over the health impact of reduced air quality with biomass burning/incineration. His response was to request from me more information regarding the health impact of the specific proposed gasification plant. In order to interpret current scientific research of adverse health effects for you, it would help if I knew specific emissions data. I am told that specific emissions data will not be available until after the plant is built. Therefore, I have done research find these answers. Below is a summation of the emissions of a staged incineration process (gasification plant) for Wood biomass burning:
The Watershed Center: Letter to Traverse City Light and Power
The Watershed Center is the author of the Grand Traverse Bay Watershed Protection Plan. That plan was developed in collaboration with 28 other regional organizations and agencies and approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) in 2005. The Watershed Center has long promoted the importance of trees and other deep-rooted vegetation along shorelines and streambanks for the purpose of erosion and sediment control as well as for taking up nutrients which also harm water quality. Recent research in Michigan and around the country is showing the importance of tree cover throughout a given watershed. The Watershed Center is currently conducting a Watershed Forestry Analysis funded in part by a grant from the DNRE. That analysis will use current tree cover data and specialized software that will show the ecosystem benefits provided by the forest cover in the 1,000 square-mile Grand Traverse Bay watershed. The Watershed Center believes there are significant unanswered questions regarding the sustainability of biomass energy as it pertains to forests and related water quality. Our concern is that it will not be possible to derive 60 years worth of fuel from the region’s watersheds without reductions in forest cover that negatively impact water quality.
Medical Society Opposes Biomass Plant pdf
The medical and scientific evidence associating air pollution with a range of health problems is irrefutable. We live in an area that is already failing in air quality. The ramifications of an increase in health problems related to increased air pollution would be far reaching in terms of personal loss, decrease in the quality of life, loss of productivity, and increased healthcare expenses. Hundreds of well designed medical research studies clearly link air pollution with significant health problems. Detrimental long-term health effects of air pollution include chronic respiratory disease, lung cancer, and heart disease. Air pollution has been linked with damage to the brain, nerves, liver and kidneys. The elderly and children and especially susceptible.
Massachusetts Medical Society House of Delegates Resolution
Waltham, Mass. (December 5, 2009)—“In an effort to reduce air pollution and promote public health, delegates approved a four-point resolution regarding biomass power plants. The resolution stated that the Society (1) urge state government to adopt policies to minimize the approval and construction of new biomass plants: (2) declared Medical Society opposition to the three currently proposed large-scale power plants in the state on the grounds that each facility poses an unacceptable public health risk, (3) urge state and federal governments to remove large-scale biomass electricity generation plants from the list of technologies eligible to receive renewable energy credits, federal stimulus funds, and Mass. Technology Collaborative loans; and (4) urge state government to extend Department of Environmental Protection regulatory authority to small-scale biomass facilities to ensure that the most protective air pollution emissions controls are used.”
Medical Society Opposes Biomass Burning on Public Health Grounds
The Hampden District Medical Society formally opposes the building of a Biomass Plant and left a letter attesting to that decision. The board determined that the proposed Biomass Plant presents an unacceptable threat to the health of the citizens...
Health Aspects of Burning Biomass in Power Generation by the Electricity Industry Occupational Health Advisory Group PDF
The guidance notes will be of interest to managers, employees and occupational health professionals within the industry. They give general advice which has to be interpreted in the light of local circumstances.
Biomass Emissions and Safety Regulations: a Primer pdf
Wood combustion is one of the largest sources of primary particulate matter (PM) air pollution in the United States. What will be the outcome of the potential tension between rising public interest in biomass-based heating systems and public concerns with emissions and health impacts of such systems? Emission standards are becoming more stringent. Will they limit the market for biomass heating systems – with the potential underutilization of a regionally based energy resource; or lead to the emergence of a larger northeast market featuring more energy efficient, lower emitting biomass technologies? Numerous health studies have linked short- and long-term exposure to elevated levels of PM with a wide range of damaging impacts on the circulatory system and lungs. The public health concerns intensify when wood-burning units are located in homes, schools or hospitals in close proximity to sensitive populations, such as children, asthmatics, and individuals with pre-existing respiratory disease or cardiac problems.
News and Reports
Have Public Servants Charged with Protecting Drinking Water Sold Out to the Gas Drilling Industry?
January 23, 2011 | Over the past decade, 34 states have succumbed to the hazardous and largely unregulated hydraulic fracturing (widely known as "fracking") of deep shale formations to extract natural gas. This radical drilling method, blasting its way from Texas and the Rockies, through Louisiana and Arkansas to the east, has wreaked havoc, turning large swathes of the nation sitting above shale formations into industrial zones, degrading landscapes, economies, land values, air quality, and perhaps most importantly, water.
Ultrafine particle emissions: Comparison of wasteto‐ energy with coal‐ and biomass‐fired power plants
Numerous epidemiological studies have found a positive correlation between the level of particulate air pollution and increased morbidity and mortality rates in both adults and children, especially for people with pre‐existing pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases (de Hartog et al, 2003; Disney, 2004; Janssen et al, 2005; Pope et al, 2009; Halonen et al, 2009). The main exposure route to particulate matter is through the respiratory system.
Assessing Outdoor Air Near Schools
As part of a new air toxics monitoring initiative, EPA, state and local air pollution control agencies will monitor the outdoor air around schools for pollutants known as toxic air pollutants, or air toxics. The Clean Air Act includes a list of 187 of these pollutants. Air toxics are of potential concern because exposure to high levels of these pollutants over many decades could result in long-term health effects. “As a parent myself, I want to know that when I’m sending my children off to school the air they breathe will be safe,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Today, for the first time, we have the information we need to make sure our children are breathing clean air in areas that have worried parents in the past. As we analyze these air quality samples, EPA will continue to work quickly to protect all Americans - not just where they live and work - but also where they learn and play.”
Few Michigan Cities are within safe limits of pollution from particulate matter
A report by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Make smarter choice for energy
As a physician residing and caring for patients in the Traverse City area, I am deeply concerned about the potential health impact of a biomass plant in our region. Known gaseous byproducts of burning biomass fuels are carbon monoxide, benzene, toluene and other known toxic and cancer-causing chemicals. In addition, the ash residue of biomass emissions has an adverse health impact on human lungs and particularly those individuals with chronic lung disease such as asthma or emphysema. Let us learn from other societies who have implemented biomass energy and what has resulted in the environment in those regions.
Climate Change Effects Due to Carbon Emission
India—The adverse effects caused to environment due to carbon emission include increased frequency of extreme weather events, and variation in pattern of monsoons, rise in surface temperature, sea level rise and melting of glaciers along with other factors. Climate Change is also likely to affect agriculture and food production and result in increase incidence of vector borne diseases. The effects on human life include increase in malnutrition and consequent disorders, with implications for child growth and development; increased deaths, disease and injury due to heat waves, floods, storms, fires and droughts; increased burden of diarrhoeal disease and altered spatial distribution of some infectious-disease vectors. The emerging results of analysis of impacts of climate change on forest biomes in India seem to be highly vulnerable to the projected change in climate. Biodiversity is also likely to be adversely impacted due to this.
FACT SHEET: Biomass Burning is neither clean or green
Burning biomass for energy emits large amount of air pollution, and endangers human health Biomass incinerators produce hundreds of tons of nitrogen oxides NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC s) two ingredients of the ground-level ozone dangerous to human respiratory health and the environment. Biomass burning also produces tons of fine particulate matter (PM), a pollutant associated with asthma, heart disease, and cancer for which no safe level is known.
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.
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."
'Citizens' hear from biomass health authority
"There's no question, biomass burning will have an impact on health care costs, especially on respiratory disease when kids are exposed to this. And exposure over time is known to cause asthma," Sammons said. "The American Lung Association says that this pollution alone can cost over $22 billion in health care. It can drive up pollen, increase allergic symptoms and, according to computer models, heat waves will increase. In the Chicago heat wave of 1995, over 600 people died and medical costs exceeded $600 million. In the California heat wave last year, 60 died and the medical costs were over $140 million. Higher CO2 and particulate levels contributed to the heat waves in both places."
|Wood dust is classified as a Group 1 Carcinogen by the International Association for Research on Cancer.
Health Effects and Costs of Biomass Burning
The proposed biomass burning electrical generating plant will have far reaching health effects on the people. The proponents have not been truthful in the clean and green marketing campaign—about the true levels of air pollution or the costs to your individual health and to public health. The increased emissions of CO2 will accelerate climate change. Since the biomass plant emits more CO2, NOx, and small particulates than a comparably sized coal plant, the result will be an increase in ground level ozone. The American Lung Association says the effect is similar to smoking. High levels of ozone trigger asthma attacks, and new evidence shows repeated ozone exposure may actually cause asthma. People with emphysema, other chronic lung diseases, angina or congestive heart failure will all be sicker—their symptoms will be worse on more days.
Failure at Hillman Michigan Biomass Plant
The Hillman Power Company in the village of Hillman, Montmorency County, Michigan, experienced a power failure on April 8, 2004. Shutdown of the pollution control equipment allowed a release of fly ash to the air. The ash settled on a local elementary school playground, where children were at recess. Several children complained of dermal irritation, irritated eyes, or transient respiratory problems. Fly ash emissions from the plant reportedly have occurred in the past. Local citizens were concerned that emissions from the power company were harmful.
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. Students outdoors at the time came into contact with the ash before being ushered indoors. School personnel administered first aid to children complaining of irritation from the dermal contact. One child, an asthmatic experiencing breathing difficulties, was brought to a medical facility, where the child was treated and released. School administrators sent a letter home with the students that day, detailing the event and actions taken by school personnel. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) requested the power company to wash the playground equipment in order to remove any remaining caustic particulate matter. This incident, along with other planned and unplanned shutdowns at the Hillman Power Company, has caused several area residents to question whether the emissions from the plant could be a public health threat.
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)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
EPA rules on fine particulate matter
This Web site provides information on the process EPA, the states and the tribes engage in to designate areas as "attainment" (meeting) or "nonattainment" (not meeting) the 24-hour PM2.5 standards established in 2006. The Clean Air Act requires EPA to issue designations after the agency sets a new National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) or revises an existing standard. EPA formally designates areas as “nonattainment” (not meeting the standard), “unclassifiable/attainment” (meeting the standard or expected to be meeting the standard despite a lack of monitoring data), or “unclassifiable” (insufficient data to classify). Once nonattainment designations take effect, the state and local governments have three years to develop implementation plans outlining how areas will attain and maintain the standards by reducing air pollutant emissions contributing to fine particle concentrations.
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.
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.
The Health Affects of Wood Smoke
Burning solid fuel yields particulate pollution - solid particles smaller than a red blood cell which have been implicated in 30,000 deaths in the US and 2.1 million deaths world wide per year. . "Particulate pollution is the most important contaminant in our air. ...we know that when particle levels go up, people die1. " Indeed, wood smoke is chemically active in the body 40 times longer than tobacco2. 1. Joel Schwartz, Ph.D., Harvard School of Public Health, E Magazine, Sept./Oct. 2002 2. Wm. A Pryor, Persistent Free Radicals in Woodsmoke: An ESR Spin Trapping Study, Free Radical Biology and Medicine 1989, 7(1): 17-21 “Each year, smoke from wood stoves and fireplaces contributes over 420,000 tons of fine particles throughout the country – mostly during the winter months. Nationally, residential wood combustion accounts for 44 percent of total stationary and mobile polycyclic organic matter (POM) emissions and 62 percent of the 7-polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), which are probable human carcinogens and are of great concern to EPA.”3 3. Strategies for Reducing Residential Wood Smoke. EPA Document # EPA-456/B-09-001, September 2009. Prepared by Outreach and Information Division, Air Quality Planning Division, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC 27711. pp. 4-5.
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.