Air pollution from cars and trucks increases Alzheimer’s risk two ways

Researchers have found a link between traffic-related air pollution and an increased risk for age-related dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease…

Pamela Lein worked with atmospheric scientist Anthony Wexler…to develop a novel approach to study the impacts of traffic-related air pollution in real time. Researchers set up a rodent vivarium near a traffic tunnel in Northern California so they could mimic, as closely as possible, what humans might experience from traffic-related air pollution…

The researchers exposed male and female rats for up to 14 months to filtered air or polluted air drawn from the tunnel and delivered it to animals unchanged in real time. The subjects were divided into two groups: wild type rats and those that express Alzheimer’s disease risk genes that are relevant to humans…

“We saw that traffic-related air pollution accelerated Alzheimer’s disease characteristics not only in the animals who express the risk gene (which we anticipated) but also in the wild type rats,” Lein says.

“We didn’t anticipate that. The big, exciting discovery is that traffic-related air pollution is a risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. This is important because this pollution is everywhere and could explain the increased number of people impacted by Alzheimer’s disease across the world.”

What remains unclear is which component of that pollution is predominately responsible for the effects on the brain. There are gases, particulate matter, road dust, tire wear, vibration, and noise involved in traffic-related air pollution.

“The next set of studies is to try and tease apart specific components of traffic-related air pollution that drive these Alzheimer’s disease traits,” Lein says. “Or is it the collective mix that causes the damage?”

The good news is that these studies provide a baseline comparison for traffic pollution after we complete the changeover to electric vehicles. Then we can finish the task by reducing elements other than vehicle power-plants causing pollution.

Rediscovering American pollution hidden for decades

Marine scientists say they have found what they believe to be more than 25,000 barrels that possibly contain DDT dumped off the Southern California coast near Catalina Island, where a massive underwater toxic waste site dating back to World War II has long been suspected…

Historical shipping logs show that industrial companies in Southern California used the basin as a dumping ground until 1972, when the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act, also known as the Ocean Dumping Act, was enacted…

Disposing of industrial, military, nuclear and other hazardous waste was a pervasive global practice in the 20th century, according to researchers.

Resting deep in the ocean, the exact location and extent of the dumping was not known until now.

Just a suggestion … Reflect upon all the governments in power in Washington over all these decades. A certain number of politicians in charge knew about this. Probably gave their permission. Another number knew … said something like “Shucks. I don’t like this!” And did nothing.

I have to wonder, once again, if there is a more useless job description than “elected official”

Tiny bits of plastic are a significant part of global pollution

Ocean plastic pollution is an urgent and global problem … Most of the attention paid to the issue has focused on daily-use goods such as food and consumer product packaging. However, Pew found that tiny fragments known as microplastics make up significant amounts of ocean plastic pollution that are often not accounted for in pollution estimates or possible solutions …

Although there is no standard definition of microplastics, they are commonly defined as plastic particles smaller than 5 millimeters—about the diameter of a standard pencil eraser. Despite their size, studies have shown that microplastics are major contributors to plastic pollution and are found widely in the environment—from high up Mount Everest to the deep sea—and even in humans and other animals …

Alarming studies regularly come out with new information about the impacts and growing scale of the microplastics problem, but there is still hope for fixing it. With concerted action that begins now, we can greatly reduce the plastic pollution flowing into our lands, rivers, and oceans over the next two decades.

RTFA, learn more about the problem and check out some of the latest ideas on how to counter this flavor of pollution. Too many of our politicians think the only side they need to defend is the one that brings jobs to their local voters … and campaign dollar$ into their bank account.

EPA underestimates pollution from oil and natgas production — A LOT!

The Environmental Protection Agency is underestimating methane emissions from oil and gas production in its annual Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks, according to new research from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The research team found 90 percent higher emissions from oil production and 50 percent higher emissions for natural gas production than EPA estimated in its latest inventory…

The research team, led by Joannes Maasakkers, a former graduate student at SEAS, developed a method to trace and map total emissions from satellite data to their source on the ground…

…Researchers compared…simulations to satellite observations from 2010-2015. Using a transport model, they were able to trace the path of emissions from the atmosphere back to the ground and identify areas across the US where the observations and simulations didn’t match up.

“When we look at emissions from space, we can only see how total emissions from an area should be scaled up or down, but we don’t know the source responsible for those emissions,” said Maasakkers. “Because we spent so much time with the EPA figuring out where these different emissions occur, we could use our transport model to go back and figure out what sources are responsible for those under- or over-estimations in the national total.”

The biggest discrepancy was in emissions from oil and natural gas production.

You know what the next question should be. “What will federal regulators do with this understanding of much greater pollution coming from oil and natgas production?”

Eh?

Illegal truck mods pollution = same as 9 million extra pickups


Pollution porn

…According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, diesel trucks with disabled emissions controls are far more widespread than you might think and emit more pollution than the diesel engines that got Volkswagen such hefty fines.

According to the EPA’s Air Enforcement Division, the use of aftermarket emissions defeat devices by diesel truck owners rivals that problem. In a report first obtained by The New York Times, it estimates that 550,000 medium trucks have had their emissions systems tampered with over the last decade—fully 15 percent of the diesel trucks on US roads…

…Specifically, the EPA says it’s only counting tampering where all of a truck’s emissions controls are removed, as opposed to mods that leave “emissions controls hardware intact and operational.”

…The EPA report says that 570,000 tons of excess NOx and 5,000 tons of excess diesel particulates are the result over the course of these trucks’ lifetimes. Or to put it another way, “due to their severe excess NOx emissions, these trucks have an air quality impact equivalent to adding more than 9 million additional (compliant, non-tampered) diesel pickup trucks to our roads.”

Pleased to see EPA differentiates between gonzo drivers looking to turn their diesel pickups into power hogs regardless of how they get there…vs. the case I imagine is at least as frequent of folks simply trying catch a bit more reliability, easier starting, better fuel economy than the sometimes mediocre design and craftmanship allocated for in truck manufacturers’ budgets.

Cancer Alley getting worse!


Click to enlarge

❝ ProPublica and The Times-Picayune and The Advocate investigated the potential cancer-causing toxicity in the air. Using EPA data, public records requests and more, we found that some of the country’s most toxic air will likely get worse…

❝ The data for our story and corresponding graphic comes from several sources. We provide details on each below.

The bulk of the analysis relies on data from the Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators (RSEI) model, which was developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Manufacturing facilities with 10 or more employees in particular industries, which are in possession of chemical quantities above specific thresholds, are required to disclose information on their toxic emissions to the Toxics Release Inventory, a program administered by the EPA. The EPA releases this information online each year as required by the 1986 Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. RSEI translates the TRI data, which is reported by weight, into values that reflect the relative risk to human health. These indicators allow regulators, companies and communities to assess risks and take action relative to a specific facility or waste stream.

Please click through to the article and the many sources referenced by the authors.