Air pollution, problematic in so many ways is now showing connections to diseases of the brain. In identifying which pollutants are the most harmful both to us and to the atmosphere, we’ll find particulates and soot from diesel engines, heavy metals, nitrogen oxides from burning fuel, as well as Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs), a group of dangerous indoor air hazards.
“Tiny magnetic particles from air pollution have for the first time been discovered to be lodged in human brains– and researchers think they could be a possible cause of Alzheimer’s disease.”
“Researchers at Lancaster University found abundant magnetite nanoparticles in the brain tissue from 37 individuals aged three to 92-years-old who lived in Mexico City and Manchester. This strongly magnetic mineral is toxic and has been implicated in the production of reactive oxygen species (free radicals) in the human brain, which are associated with neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease.”
“Professor Barbara Maher, from Lancaster Environment Centre, and colleagues (from Oxford, Glasgow, Manchester and Mexico City) used spectroscopic analysis to identify the particles as magnetite. Unlike angular magnetite particles that are believed to form naturally within the brain, most of the observed particles were spherical, with diameters up to 150 nm, some with fused surfaces, all characteristic of high-temperature formation – such as from vehicle (particularly diesel) engines or open fires.” Continue reading
So, what can we do to change this? The best action would be that taken collectively– industry leading the way to reduce the airborne releases (as well as other releases) of these instigators of destruction. In most cases that calls for better technology and engineering strides that will produce cleaner and more efficient vehicles and end products for society’s use. Of course change takes time, so perhaps most important right now is to ask how you might reduce your and your family’s exposure and what can be done to protect ourselves in the meantime?
Solutions to Protect Yourself and Your Family:
- Reduce exposure to particulates, soot, and aerosols. This can be done by reducing time spent on the highway, on trains and busses as well as proximity to diesel powered vehicles, trucks and equipment.
- Consider getting a Hepa air filter for your home and traveling
- Whilst black carbon and soot is dangerous, activated charcoal filters actually absorb harmful smoke and toxic air pollutants
- Get out in the woods when you can, trees provide us with fresh air and nourish the lungs and soul.
- When your work involves working with diesel powered equipment, trucks, heavy dust and renovation, or lead paint removal, consider wearing nasal filters that protect and keep fine particles out of your nasal passages.
- Wear a respirator if you’re working with heavy airborne particles or strong VOC fumes from paint and chemical products.
- Take a stand against Biomass power plants, keep trees standing–Biomass plants contribute greater particulates and pollutants to the atmosphere than either coal or natural gas. (see below)
- You may want to consider reducing use and support of ethanol in fuel–studies show burning ethanol in gasoline actually increases smog in urban areas.
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COAL versus BIOMASS: SEVEN MAJOR AIR POLLUTANTS
50-Year Old Mt. Tom Coal Plant vs. New Fairhaven, VT Biomass (Pounds of pollution per megawatt hour of energy produced) COAL BIOMASS BIOMASS Pollutant Facility Facility Results
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) 1,963 2,993 + 52%
Carbon Monoxide (CO) 1.07 1.06 ~
Volatile Organics (VOC) 0.03 0.07 + 158%
Particulate Matter (PM) 0.05 0.27 + 457%
Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) 1.08 0.43 -61%
Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) 2.07 0.28 -86%
Ammonia (NH3) 0.002 0.083 + 3,479
BIOMASS = WORSE 4 out of 7!
For complete study see http://www.maforests.org/BioCheck.pdf
CLIMATE SUPER POLLUTANTS GROUP Many of the most harmful air pollutants are also on the list of CLIMATE SUPER POLLUTANTS GROUP! (courtesy of the National Institutes of Health)
- Black Carbon, Particulate Matter (PM)
- Hydrofluorocarbons (HFC)
- Tropospheric ozone
- Tropospheric ozone precursors
- Carbon Monoxide
- Nitrogen Oxides (NOx)
- Nitric Oxide
- Nitrogen Dioxide
- Nitrous Oxide
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
As shocking as it may be, this is the green reality!