Canvassing for Opinion - aka "Blairs Brain on Cannabis"

IMHO prohibition sentiment requires inherent addiction to status quo, an incapacity to visualise beyond the here and now and a desperate desire to know others might feel the same... Reform is not revolutionary, rather it is evolutionary. Having survived banging your head against a brick wall the evolutionist relishes having stopped. / Blair

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Air Pollution Increases Mortality Risk

Charlene Laino, Medscape Medical News 2006. © 2006 Medscape

May 23, 2006 (San Diego) — Up to 2 years of exposure to particulate air pollution — more commonly called soot — can raise the risk of death for patients with heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, or inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, according to the first such study to follow hospitalized patients discharged alive for specific diseases.

"While previous studies have found that long-term exposure to air pollution is associated with increased mortality, we found that all the effect seems to occur within the first 2 years," said coauthor Joel Schwartz, PhD, professor of environmental epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts.

"What that means is that we if clean up the air, we will see improvements [in risk for death] right away — not 20 years from now," Dr. Schwartz told Medscape.

For the study, presented here at the American Thoracic Society International Conference, the researchers used Medicare hospital discharge data from 34 US cities to examine whether subparticles in the air were associated with survival. The patients, who had been admitted between 1985 and1999, were followed for as long as 15 years.

Specifically, the researchers looked at particulate matter (PM10) particles smaller than 10 microns in aerodynamic diameter, or about one-seventh the width of a human hair, that can easily travel into the respiratory tract, Dr. Schwartz said.

The study showed that each increase of 10 µg/m2 of PM10 over 2 years increased the risk of death by 32% for patients with diabetes, by 28% for patients with COPD, by 27% for patients with congestive heart failure, and by 22% for people with inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

"Overall, several hundreds of thousands of deaths each year in the United States are due to such pollution," Dr. Schwartz pointed out.

Jonathan Samet, MD, professor and chair of the department of epidemiology at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland, said the findings are consistent with previous research showing that particulate matter is associated with an increase in mortality rates.

That said, "now [Dr. Schwartz] has narrowed it down and showed that even a few years of exposure can make a difference," Dr. Samet told Medscape. "By November, we are looking to even further tighten our controls on particulate matter [and research such as this is crucial]."

But Dr. Schwartz was pessimistic. He said that the proposal that the Environmental Protection Agency has suggested for November "is not a tightening of air pollution controls, against the advice of its own scientific advisors. While they can still change their minds, whether they will is another thing," he told Medscape.

So what should be done? One way to reduce particulate matter levels to is put scrubbers on coal-burning power plants, he said. In addition, catalysts should be required for diesel engines, according to Dr. Schwartz.

"London just refitted all its buses with catalysts," Dr. Schwartz said. "The technology is there but we're not doing it. We could and save many, many lives in a relatively small number of years."

ATS 2006 International Conference: Abstract B16. Presented May 22, 2006

Reviewed by Margaret Clark, RN, RRT-NPS

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This important public health 'risk' was identified, quantified [$] and conveyed to ECAN/ARC, Ministry of Health and Transport and others 6-7 years ago. See

Increasingly we are being made aware just how much Particulates are imposing (thus subsidising dirty fuel)on our community.

Consider: The PM10 for airborne particles does not protect public health with "an adequate margin of safety," - JAMA March 2006 in its article on PM10 & PM2.5 and the elderly.

Blair Anderson
ph (643) 389 4065
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