Tag: public health

Study quantifies role of oil and gas emissions in ozone formation along Colorado Front Range

Research to help shape efforts to reduce dangerous air pollution
ozone map

By Bob Berwyn
Emissions from oil and gas production along the Colorado Front Range are a significant, measurable part of the region’s chronic summer ozone problem, scientists concluded after taking a close look at air pollution during an extensive research project in the summer of 2014.

Ozone levels in the area often spike above 70 parts per billion, a level deemed by the EPA to be dangerous to human health and to the environment, causing respiratory problems and damage to plants. About 17 ppb of that ozone are produced locally; about 3 ppb come from oil and gas industry emissions, according to a new study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

The researchers said their findings could help shape efforts to improve air quality in the region. Along with the volatile organic compounds released from oil and gas operations, nitrogen oxides from cars, buses and trucks are also a big factor. Any meaningful effort to improve air quality will have to address both sources. Continue reading “Study quantifies role of oil and gas emissions in ozone formation along Colorado Front Range”

Michigan eyes climate-related public health threats

Along with many other states across the northern tier, Michigan just experienced one of its warmest winters on record.

Officials prep for impacts to vulnerable populations

Staff Report

Michigan residents are likely to face a growing range of climate-related threats in coming decades, including respiratory diseases, heat-related illnesses and water- and vector-borne diseases, according to a new report from university researchers and state health officials.

Overall, the experts said that changing climate conditions like warmer temperatures and more frequent big rainstorms are an emerging public health threat in the state, where the average temperature has increased by anywhere from 0.6 to 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit since 1951. Average annual precipitation has increased by 4.5 percent during that period. Continue reading “Michigan eyes climate-related public health threats”

Global warming will lead to spike in ozone pollution

Western U.S. Counties Violating Current and Proposed Ozone Air Quality Standards.
Western U.S. Counties Violating Current and Proposed Ozone Air Quality Standards. A new study suggests even more spikes in dangerous ozone levels as global temperatures increase. Map courtesy WildEarth Guardians.

New study tracks dangerous public health threat posed by rising temps

Staff Report

Along with catastrophic heatwaves, flooding and droughts, greenhouse gas emissions are likely to result in a big spike in the number of days when air quality is impaired by ozone, according to a new study from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Left unchecked, global warming could lead to between three and nine additional days per year of unhealthy ozone levels by 2050, the researchers found.

“In the coming decades, global climate change will likely cause more heat waves during the summer, which in turn could cause a 70 to 100 percent increase in ozone episodes, depending on the region,” said Lu Shen, first author and graduate student at SEAS. Continue reading “Global warming will lead to spike in ozone pollution”

Highway air pollution still a big public health threat

Air quality near major roads is still harming the lung function of children. @bberwyn photo.

Kids living close to highways suffer from reduced lung function

Staff Report

Despite increased efforts to control pollution from vehicles and industrial sources, young children are still being exposed to harmful levels of particulates that impair lung function.

A long-term health study shows that, by age eight, the lung function of children living within 100 meters of a major roadway was on average 6 percent lower than that of children living 400 meters or more away.

The study was one of the first to examine childhood exposure to air pollution after big improvements to urban air quality in the 1990s, explained lead author Dr. Mary B. Rice. The findings are published the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care, a journal of the American Thoracic Society. Continue reading “Highway air pollution still a big public health threat”

Global warming drives up European dengue risk

Mosquito-borne disease could be widespread by end of century

Global warming will drive the spread of dengue into higher latitudes in coming decades.
Global warming will drive the spread of dengue into higher latitudes in coming decades.

Staff Report

Rapidly warming global temperatures could spur epidemics of mosquito-transmitted dengue across wide parts of Europe by the end of the century, according to researchers with Umeå University in Sweden.

Along with the fact that disease-bearing mosquitoes will expand their range in a warming world, the scientists also found that, in general, climate change increase virus reproduction and transmission, and the rate in which the female mosquitos bite. As a result, a warmer overall climate extends the seasonal window of opportunity for mosquitos to transmit dengue fever.

“In the midst of warming temperatures on the European continent and a number of complex factors such as increased travel and trade, Europe now finds itself at an elevated risk of mosquito-borne epidemics such as dengue fever,” said Jing Liu-Helmersson, researcher at Umeå University’s Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine and main author of the article. Continue reading “Global warming drives up European dengue risk”

Will the Zika virus spread into the United States?

South Texas, Florida seen as vulnerable

Climate and demographic factors could make parts of the southern U.S. vulnerable to the spread of the Zika virus.

Staff Report

Combing climate data with travel patterns, researchers with the Center for Disease Control and the National Center for Atmospheric Research say Zika virus outbreaks could occur as soon as this summer in parts of south Texas and Florida.

The study shows that the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is spreading the virus in much of Latin America and the Caribbean, probably will become more abundant across much of the southern and eastern United States as the weather warms.

Summer weather conditions are favorable for the disease-carrying mosquito as far north as New York City and across the southern tier of the country as far west as Phoenix and Los Angeles, the models show. Continue reading “Will the Zika virus spread into the United States?”

El Niño may help spread dangerous diseases across oceans

Dangerous bacteria may ‘piggyback’ from Asia to Latin America

April 2
A new study tracks potential public health impacts of El Niño.

Staff Report

Along with causing weather-related disasters like flooding or drought, El Niño may be a factor in spreading waterborne diseases like cholera thousands of miles across oceans, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Microbiology.

The findings by U.S. and UK researchers suggest that the arrival of new diseases in Latin America is linked with the spread of warmer El Niño waters. Examples include a 1990 cholera outbreak in Peru that killed 13,000 people, and two instances (1997 and 2010) when  new variants the bacterium Vibrio parahaemolyticus led to widespread human illness through contaminated shellfish. The study explored how those outbreaks concurred in both time and space with significant El Niño events. Continue reading “El Niño may help spread dangerous diseases across oceans”