A lot of studies have linked air pollution with heart and lung problems. A new study suggests your diet can worsen air pollution’s effects on you. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Michael Leland has more:
A lot of studies have linked air pollution with heart and lung
problems. A new study suggests your diet can worsen air pollution’s
effects on you. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Michael Leland
Every time you inhale, you’re breathing in tiny particles from dust, soot
and smoke. They can increase both the plaque buildup in your arteries,
and the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Now, a study led by Dr. Lung Chi Chen at New York University’s
School of Medicine says a high fat diet combined with bad air led to a
faster buildup of plaque in the arteries of mice. He says that’s because
air pollution affects lipids – fats – in the blood. It changes their
characteristics, or oxidizes them, which leads to more plaque on artery
“If the mice are fed with high-fat, then the level of the oxidized
lipid will be higher, because they have more lipid in their blood.”
Dr. Chen says arteries of mice on a high-fat diet and breathing dirty air
were 42-percent blocked. Mice breathing clean air had arteries that were
He hopes the study not only encourages people to eat better, but also
persuades the government to toughen air quality standards.
The health effects of diesel emissions can include increased risks for heart attacks, asthma, and early deaths. The Clean Air Task Force is asking states to do more to clean up these emissions. (Photo by Greg Perez)
A new report says the Midwest is one of the most polluted areas in the country when it comes to soot pollution from diesel exhaust. The environmental research and advocacy group The Clean Air Task Force says much
of this pollution could be cut using available technology. The Great Lakes
Radio Consortium’s Elizabeth Braun reports:
A new report says the Midwest is one of the most polluted areas in the country when it comes to soot pollution from diesel exhaust. The environmental research and advocacy group the Clean Air Task Force says much of this pollution could be cut using available technology. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Elizabeth Braun reports:
Three Midwestern states: Illinois, Ohio and Michigan are in the Task Force’s top 10 worst states for diesel pollution. The task force says inhaling diesel soot leads to thousands of heart attacks, early deaths and asthma cases. But, they say the trend can be reversed by limiting the amount of exhaust that’s released into the air.
They say one way to do this is to retrofit schoolbuses to reduce emissions. Renate Anderson is with the American Lung Association. She says children are the most at risk from diesel exhaust.
“School buses… that is a specific danger zone. Children have developing lungs, they tend to breathe about fifty percent more per pound of body weight than adults do.”
The task force also recommends passing legislation to limit how long diesel-engine vehicles can idle. The state of Minnesota has a no-idling policy for school buses, and Illinois lawmakers are currently working on such a measure.
Smokestacks, diesel engines, and a number of other things cause particulate emissions, which can create some negative health effects, and aggravate existing health problems. (Photo by Kenn Kiser)
In the summer, local weather forecasts often
include information about dangerous ozone levels.
But scientists are learning more and more about
another type of pollution that can reach harmful
levels even in the winter months. And as the Great
Lakes Radio Consortium’s Sarah Hulett reports… we
might be hearing more about this type of pollution in
our daily weather reports:
In the summer, local weather forecasts often include information about dangerous ozone levels. But scientists are learning more and more about another type of pollution that can reach harmful levels even in the winter months. And as the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Sarah Hulett reports, we might be hearing more about this type of pollution in our daily weather reports:
Parts of the region recently reached “code red” for poor air quality. And
that had some people perplexed. Warnings about dangerous levels of ozone are
frequent on hot summer days, especially in urban areas. But this was the
middle of winter.
The warnings were for high levels of tiny particles that federal regulators
only recently began monitoring. They’re spewn from diesel engines,
factories, power plants, and fireplaces. Air monitors in Michigan,
Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Indiana recently registered unhealthy levels of
these particles – some of them for a few days straight.
Jim Haywood says the problem was an unusual weather event for this time of
year. Haywood is a meteorologist with the Michigan Department of
Environmental Quality. He says a high pressure system moved very slowly over
the Great Lakes region for several days. When you get high pressure, the air
below sinks, generating a layer of warm air that acts like a lid.
“So that warm air that was sinking effectively stops at a few hundred feet
from the surface of the ground. It acts like a cap. It does not let any of
the pollutants that are released at the surface pop up through that cap.”
So all the pollutants that would have gotten picked up and diluted by the
wind instead just hung out for days – building up, and reflecting sunlight
to create haze.
Eventually, a cold front pushed the high pressure system out of the way, and
took the pollution with it. But what about those few days when the Environmental Protection Agency was warning about unhealthy levels of particulate pollution? For people with
heart or lung disease, agency health officials say short-term episodes can
lead to asthma attacks or even heart attacks. And they say healthy children
and adults can experience throat and lung irritation.
Susan Stone is an environmental health scientist with EPA. She says
particle pollution warnings could soon become a staple of the daily weather
report – much like the familiar summer ozone warnings.
“With ozone, we have the network in place to be able to deliver those
forcasts, people are used to hearing that on TV, and we are working to
provide that same level of coverage for particle pollution.”
Stone says EPA is rolling out a new program called Enviro-Flash
nationwide. It sends real-time air quality information to people’s email
accounts or pagers. EPA is offering the service through state
environmental agencies. And beginning in 2010, areas that register
unacceptable levels of particle pollution will be required to clean up their
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Sarah Hulett.