Viridian Note 00301: Science Says Fumes WillBruce Sterling [email@example.com]
Key concepts: fossil fuels, particulate pollution, lung disease, carcinogens, heart attacks
Attention Conservation Notice: Might command some special attention if you've been coughing a lot lately.
http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/2002/jan/national.html#3month "This past winter was the hottest in United States recorded history. According to an analysis by the National Climatic Data Center last month the average temperature between November 2001 and January 2002 was an incredible 4.3 degrees F above normal."
http://www.theonion.com/onion3626/cryptosporidium_daze.html "Crypty the Cryptosporidium", a cheesy knockoff of our beloved Viridian mascot.
http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99992013 Universe not really green. Actually, universe is color of cheap-ass beige PC console.
by Solana Pyne
"Breathing polluted air may be nearly as bad for you as
living with a cigarette smoker. (((And just try divorcing
your local smokestack.))) A new study, the most extensive
of its type, shows that long-term exposure to tiny
particles of air pollution increases the risk of dying
from heart or lung disease or lung cancer by about the
same amount as long-term exposure to secondhand smoke.
"Although the mechanism by which the particles cause
disease is still up for debate, the latest study supports
existing U.S. air-quality standards that have been
attacked by industry and state governments. ((("Flash:
Exxon To Merge With R.J. Reynolds")))
"A number of studies have shown that more deaths from
heart and lung diseases occur on days with high
concentrations of fine particles. These particles,
byproducts of burning wood and fossil fuels, are smaller
than 2.5 micrometers across, or less than 1/40th the width
of a human hair. Landmark studies in 1993 and 1995
suggested that heart and lung diseases could be caused by
chronic exposure to fine particles, but some scientists
argued that the findings were unreliable because
researchers hadn't sufficiently accounted for the
individual risk factors and differences among communities
(Science, 4 August 2000, p. 711).
"To gain a better understanding, environmental
epidemiologists Arden Pope of Brigham Young University in
Provo, Utah, George Thurston of New York University (NYU)
School of Medicine, and Daniel Krewski of the University
of Ottawa tracked people over a longer time and controlled
more extensively for individual risk factors.
"The team compared data on particulate and gaseous air pollution with data on the cause of death among 500,000 people followed for 16 years by the American Cancer Society. After compensating for smoking, diet, obesity, and other risk factors, (((somewhere there's a fat, chainsmoking, coal-mining guy with every single one of these risk factors, and he is going to bury us all))) as well as possible regional differences, the researchers found that every 10-microgram increase in fine particles per cubic meter of air produces a 6% increase in the risk of death by cardiopulmonary disease, and 8% for lung cancer."
(((I don't wanna come off as a big tub-thumping health alarmist here, but I would be remiss if I did not point out that, statistically speaking, this phenomenon is just bound to kill a lot of you people.
(((Some personal testimony here: my health has improved remarkably since I began sleeping in a room with a HEPA air filter. They are simple and cheap. And if they don't filter the smog, pollen and fine particles from your air, then your own pink, crispy lungs most certainly will.)))
"Reporting in the 6 March issue of the Journal of the
American Medical Association, the team found that the
risks are highest in Los Angeles, which averaged 20
micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter in 1999 and
2000. Chicago clocked in at 18 and New York City at 16.
"But small cities are not necessarily safer, Thurston
points out: Huntington, West Virginia, has higher average
fine-particle concentrations than New York because of its
proximity to coal-fired power plants. Douglas Dockery, an
environmental epidemiologist at Harvard University who
helped design one of the original studies linking long-
term particulate exposure to heart and lung disease, says
the study's key contribution is highlighting the role of
particulates in lung cancer.
"It's logical that fine particles would cause heart
and lung problems, Thurston says: 'The particles are
loaded with carcinogens, and they reside in the lungs for
a long period of time.' Researchers are still trying to
pinpoint the most lethal particles, however, and sort out
how they cause disease.
"They may lodge in the lining of the lungs, inflaming
them and contributing to infection. Fine particles can
also generate highly reactive oxygen-containing chemicals
that can trigger inflammation and allergies and might
damage the heart. And the smallest of the fine particles
can pass from the lungs into the bloodstream, where they
can travel to other sites and wreak further havoc. (((Oh
come on == there's got to be an upside to this. Maybe
they fertilize your lungs with essential coal-mining
"As with cigarette smoke, many different compounds and mechanisms are probably involved, says Morton Lippmann, an environmental health scientist at NYU School of Medicine and director of one of five centers set up by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to study the health effects of fine particles. 'We don't know why some people get serious heart problems and others get lung disease,' he says. 'But that's not an excuse not to regulate fine particles.' (((Viridian people, let me level with you here: even if the feds do further regulate particles, the Bush EPA is just not gonna enforce those limits. Go buy a HEPA box. and do it yourself. Now that you know about this, let somebody else die.)))
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