Study: Global warming won’t cut winter-related deaths

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Winter deaths are unlikely to decline substantially because of global warming, a new study says. @bberwyn photo.

Professor Patrick Kinney of Columbia University

Hot summer temps more of a problem

Staff Report

FRISCO — Even though winters may become warmer as climate change ramps up, it probably won’t result in a big reduction of winter deaths, says a new study that contradicts the conventional wisdom on health impacts of climate change.

“For years I’ve been hearing people say that global warming will reduce winter deaths but I wanted to check this claim out for myself,” said Columbia University Professor Patrick Kinney.

Kinney and his colleagues used statistical methods to pick apart the possible factors contributing to deaths of older people during the winter; they found that cities with warmer winters have similar amounts of winter deaths as do cities with colder winters. The new research was published this week in IOP Publishing’s Environmental Research Letters journal. Continue reading

Study: Cleaning the air would save millions of lives worldwide

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Thick smog along the east coast of China. Satellite image courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

‘With no changes in air pollution, deaths per capita from air pollution would increase 20 to 30 percent during the next 15 years in India and China …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Numerous public health studies have shown how cleaning up air pollution in the U.S. could prevent thousands of premature deaths. On a global scale, the benefits of cleaner air are staggering, according to scientists and engineers.

The researchers developed a global model showing how reductions in outdoor air pollution could lead to changes in the rates of health problems such as heart attack, stroke and lung cancer, potentially saving millions of lives every year. Continue reading

Study shows need for tighter air pollution standards

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Particulate pollution from coal-fired power plants is harmful to public health at levels far below current standards.

‘No evidence of a safe threshold …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Power plant operators and their Republican allies in Congress may protest every time public health experts propose tighter pollution rules, but a new study shows that tiny soot particles are harmful to human health at concentrations far below the current standards.

After tracking particulate air pollution from satellite data and matching it against regional health data sorted by zip codes, Harvard researchers found a clear link between higher levels of pollution and death rates among people older than 65. The harmful effects from the particles were observed even in areas where concentrations were less than a third of the current standard set by the Environmental Protection Agency. Continue reading

Study shows links between prenatal exposure to air pollution and behavioral disorders

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More proof that air pollution is bad for children (and other living things). Photo via the Creative Commons.

Long-term research tracks structural brain changes in young children exposed to PAHs

Staff Report

FRISCO — Prenatal exposure to common pollutants from auto emissions, power plants and other sources may be a big factor in the rising tide of behavioral disorders in children, researchers say.

After tracking 40 children from before birth until 7 to 9 years of age, the researchers say they found a powerful link between exposure to PAHs and disturbances in parts of the brain that support information processing and behavioral control.  Continue reading

Environment: What’s the true cost of fossil fuels?

Can carbon capture help mitigate the climate impacts of carbon dioxide?

Can carbon capture help mitigate the climate impacts of carbon dioxide?

‘We’re making decisions based on misleading costs’

Staff Report

FRISCO — The costs of burning fossil fuels are much higher than official estimates when the environmental and human health toll is factored into the equation, according to Duke University scientists who took a close look at the numbers and published their findings in the journal Climatic Change.

When those costs are factored in, a gallon of gasoline costs about $3.80 more than the pump price. The social cost of a gallon of diesel is about $4.80 more than the pump price; the price of natural gas more than doubles; and coal-fired electricity more than quadruples. Solar and wind power, on the other hand, become cheaper than they initially seem. Continue reading

Advisory panel eyes shift to more sustainable diet in U.S.

‘Sustainability has to be core to dietary guidelines’

Spicy cashew-nut salad. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

Can federal guidelines help Americans choose a healthier diet?

Staff Report

FRISCO — Guided by an advisory panel, federal health experts last week set the stage to nudge American consumers toward a more sustainable diet that’s higher in plant-based foods and lighter on animal-based foods.

In the long-term, the changes would improve individual health and result in a smaller environmental footprint, according to panel, which submitted its recommendations to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The new scientific report spelled out the fundamental realities of diet and health. About half of all American adults — 117 million individuals — have one or more preventable, chronic diseases, and about two-thirds of U.S. adults — nearly 155 million individuals — are overweight or obese, patterns that have persisted for more than 20 years. Continue reading

No surprise: Global warming speeds up tick season

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Warmer global temperatures will have a big effect on the spread of insect-carried pathogens.

‘If this persists, we will need to move Lyme Disease Awareness Month from May to April …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Disease-carrying ticks in the northeastern U.S. are moving up in elevation and farther north, raising concerns about the spread of Lyme disease and other pathogens, according to a comprehensive field study on how environmental conditions influence vector-borne disease risk. Continue reading

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