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Three new studies show fine particles linked to health risks 8 December 2011
Three new studies released today by the California Air Resources Board reveal that exposure to airborne fine-particulate matter significantly elevates the risk for premature deaths from heart disease in older adults and elevates incidence of strokes among post-menopausal women.

The coal seam gas rush November 2011
The ABC's data journalism project has pulled together information from dozens of sources to provide an insight into the promise and the dangers inherent in the coal seam gas rush.

Lung cancer in women on rise, while male rates decline 4 November 2011
  The first comprehensive summary of national statistics on lung cancer in Australia was released yesterday by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and Cancer Australia. The report  revealed that the rate of new lung cancer diagnoses rose by 72 per cent for women but fell by 32 per cent for men between 1982 and 2007. Smoking is the leading case of lung cancer in Australia, but about 10 per cent of men and 30-35 per cent of women who get lung cancer are non-smokers.

Air pollution tied to lung cancer in non-smokers 28 October 2011 People who have never smoked, but who live in areas with higher air pollution levels, are roughly 20 percent more likely to die from lung cancer than people who live with cleaner air, researchers conclude in a new  study.  "Lung cancer in 'never smokers' is an important cancer. It's the sixth leading cause of cancer in United States," said Michelle Turner, the lead author of the study. Although the study team didn't prove that the pollution caused the cancer cases "there's lots of evidence that exposure to fine particles increases cardiopulmonary mortality". Fine particles in air pollution can injure the lungs through inflammation and damage to DNA.

A particulate threat to diabetics 26 October 2011 In a new study of people with diabetes, blood pressure rose in rough lockstep with short-term increases in soot and other microscopic air pollutant particles. Such transient increases in blood pressure can place the health of the heart, arteries, brain and kidneys at risk, particularly in people with chronic disease. The new data confirm that short-term inhalation of fine airborne particulates at ambient levels — and perhaps traffic-related soot in particular — "have small but potentially clinically meaningful effects."

Fed up with pollution from idling cars - take a lesson from Salt Lake City 25 October 2011 Motorists who leave their vehicles idling for more than two minutes in Utah's capital city run the risk of being fined. "The focus is education."  "The goal", city leaders said, "is to improve air quality in the Salt Lake Valley, where more than 50 percent of air pollution comes from vehicle exhaust."

Clearing the air on Climate and Smog 21 October 2011 Why climate change and public health policy make good chemistry.
A major study released today in Fresno details the direct link between higher levels of air pollution and asthma-related ER and hospital admissions. So, what’s that got to do with climate change? Plenty. Download study report (pdf).

Smoking ban aims to protect outdoor diners  21 October 2011 Gunnedah Shire Council has voted to ban smoking in licensed outdoor alfresco areas in Gunnedah.

Call for air quality monitoring 18 October 2011 Gunnedah Shire Council calls for air quality monitoring across the Gunnedah Basin It's anticipated there will be some 750 direct and indirect jobs created by the Aston Resources' Maules Creek Coal Project in North West NSW. There is no doubt there will be many economic benefits from the new mines in the region. However there are environmental impacts as well, and not necessarily one we can see. (Audio)

Heating and Air Pollution
18 October 2011 The effects of wood burning are still quite large both in developed and developing countries. In developing countries it is more of an indoor air quality issue, as wood is used for both cooking and heating, and the carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. In developed countries, where cleaner fuels and better combustion technologies are available, it is more of an outdoor air quality issue. Despite efforts in cleaning up industry, cars, trucks, buses, very few "romantic" users of wood burning are causing huge effects on air quality across many cities.
 
Two New Reasons to Worry about Air Pollution: Obesity and Diabetes 10 October 2011 New studies have found a rather convincing correlation between the presence of small particulate matter (PM2.5, the fine particles blown into the air by road traffic, coal-fired power plants, industrial manufacturing, and residential wood fuel combustion) and both obesity and diabetes.

Air pollution from traffic impairs brain 9 October 2011 Air pollution in cities and beside roads can impair the way the brain functions, two new studies have revealed. Scientists have found living in areas with high levels of traffic pollution can reduce people's performance in cognitive tests.

Pregnant Mothers at Risk from Air Pollution 7 October 2011 A Californian-based study has looked in detail at air quality and the impact of traffic-related air pollution on premature birth. Results from this study show that traffic-related air pollution, especially polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), is associated with up to a 30% increase in premature births.

'Show us your lungs' 6 October 2011 Australian Lung Foundation's campaign to draw the nation's attention to their lungs and to encourage people to protect their lung health and to see their GP if they have concerns about their lung health.

Asbestos warning
5 October 2011 Hundreds of unsuspecting ACT businesses could contain the same sort of deadly ''fluffy'' asbestos removed from Canberra homes because the buildings were ''outside the scope'' of a $100million clean-up funded by the Federal Government in the late 1980s, an expert says.  Related news: 'Commonwealth should help pay for asbestos clean-up.'

New study shows how trees can clean the air of particulate pollution 5 October 2011
New research by scientists at the University of Southampton has shown how London’s trees can improve air quality by filtering out pollution particulates, which are damaging to human health. A paper published this month in the journal ‘Landscape and Urban Planning’ indicates that the urban trees of the Greater London Authority (GLA) area remove somewhere between 850 and 2000 tonnes of particulate pollution (PM10) from the air every year.

Results out in Kwinana Children’s Health Respiratory Study 20 September 2011
Study leader Dr Peter Franklin said that overall the respiratory health of Kwinana children is about the same as that of children in other areas of Perth. However, the study found children who lived in Kwinana before the age of three were more likely to have wheezed at least once in their life compared to children who had moved to Kwinana after the age of three – 42.1 per cent versus 26.4 per cent respectively. Telethon Institute for Child Health Research press release.

The mining and burning of coal: effects on health and the environment
19 Sept 2011
There is overwhelming evidence that coalmining and the burning of coal is harmful to physical and environmental health, and can have a significant impact on local communities. Regrettably, peer-reviewed environmental health studies from Australian coal towns are sparse.

NEPC review of air quality standards released
17 Sept 2011
The review into Australia's air quality standards, last updated in 2003, found that for the pollutants monitored, there was no safe level of exposure. "Current standards are not meeting the requirement for adequate protection of human health." It proposed state and federal authorities set targets for cutting exposure to air pollutants for the first time, following the EU's lead. Review report.

Al Gore's Climate Reality Project 15 Sept 2011
24 hours of presentations from around the world about how climate change is affecting us now. Watch the Canberra speaker tonight at 7pm.

1661 Air Pollution Essay Republished 6 Sep 2011
Environmental Protection UK has re-published 'Fumifugium': John Evelyn's 1661 essay on air pollution in London. Evelyn was a 17th century writer, gardener and diarist. In Fumifugium he wrote to King Charles II aiming to document the impacts of air pollution on both health and the environment, and also put forward some solutions to the problem of coal smoke. Unfortunately Charles II did little to implement Evelyn's thinking and it wasn't until the 1950s that the UK introduced effective smoke control laws.

The air you breathe can harm your health
5 September 2011 Air pollution has been recognised as a major contributor to ill health for centuries. While some of the acute effects of smogs, wood and coal burning have been obvious even prior to modern medicine, it is only recently we have started to realise the far greater and more insidious consequences of chronic exposure. There is strong evidence for a causal relationship between air pollutants and respiratory conditions such as COPD, asthma and lung cancer, and cardiovascular diseases, acute myocardial infarctions (AMI) and arrhythmias. This is occurring even with exposure to low concentrations well below current guideline levels.

Woodsmoke likely contribution to poor air quality in Muswellbrook
5 September 2011
A series of increases in fine particulate matter pollution readings at Muswellbrook has reignited concerns about Upper Hunter air quality Upper Hunter Air Quality Monitoring Network advisory committee member Carol Russel said ‘‘If woodsmoke is contributing to dust problems it means the government has a major problem that needs to be addressed,’’

School risk study flawed, gas heater experts say 5 September 2011
A group of leading scientists, pollution experts and the Asthma Foundation of NSW have written to the Premier to alert him to flaws in a risk assessment of unflued gas heaters in schools.It calls on the Premier, Barry O'Farrell, to remove all 51,000 unflued gas heaters still in schools as a matter of urgency.

Home renovations leave deadly legacy of asbestos-related disease, study finds  4 September 2011
Researchers in Western Australia have found exposure to toxic asbestos materials during home renovations is now the main cause of malignant mesothelioma in women.

Firewood fee given the chop 1 September 2011 The Baillieu government has abolished fees for collecting firewood on public land despite expert advice that removing dead trees from forests threatens native bird species. A Department of Environment and Sustainability scientific review found fallen trees and branches were vital habitat for birds and some threatened reptile species. Anger over firewood collection plan. See also: Firewood and biodiversity – are we burning their homes to warm ours?

Pellet Heater trials underway 29 August 2011 Work started this week on testing timbers from New England for their suitability for pellet production. With funding from HiCUB and RIRDC, researchers are looking at the possibility of using pellet heaters as a sustainable alternative to wood fires for home heating. Pellet heaters have much lower woodsmoke and greenhouse gas emissions than wood heaters, are cleaner and easier to operate.

Further action wanted on Hunter air quality
2 August 2011
Upper Hunter residents are calling for more action to improve air quality following another health alert for particulate matter concentrations on the weekend.

The burning issue of wood heater pollution
24 August 2011 Emissions from domestic wood-fired heaters in southern Tasmania's Huon Valley dwarf emissions from forest regeneration burns, according to a new CSIRO study. (Podcast)

Exhaust-ing ride for cyclists: Air pollutants trigger heart risk
6 July 2011
In big cities around the world, cyclists breathe an array of pollutants from exhaust-spewing cars. A new study has now found a link between cycling on high traffic roads and heart risks. Even healthy cyclists had harmful changes in their heart rates. Experts say cyclists should stick to their two-wheels, however, pointing to simple solutions to reduce exposure.

Air pollution linked to learning and memory problems, depression 5 July 2011
Long-term exposure to air pollution can lead to physical changes in the brain, as well as learning and memory problems and even depression, new research in mice suggests.

Smog blankets Mt Gambier
30 June 2011
A new report has found there are potentially dangerous levels of air pollution in Mount Gambier. Environment Protection Authority air quality monitoring stations at the Gordon Education Centre and Mount Gambier Showground have recorded an alarming amount of micro smoke particles in the city’s air.

Curbing Soot, Smog Could Help Limit Global Temperature Rise 14 June 2011
A recent United Nations report (pdf) calls for fast action on reducing emissions of black carbon, ground level ozone and methane to help limit near term global temperature rise preventing the Earth from overheating, reports AFP.  Recommended procedures for cutting black carbon include the use of mandatory diesel filters on vehicles, phasing out wood-burning stoves in wealthy countries, use of clean-burning biomass stoves for cooking and heating in developing nations, and a ban on the open burning of agricultural waste.

New vehicle emission rules announced
14 June 2011
The Federal Government has announced that all new cars, utilities and four-wheel-drives sold in Australia will have to conform with tough new air pollution rules. The national emission standards, which are in line with those to be enforced in Europe, will target chemicals that are responsible for dangerous forms of pollution, now linked to hundreds of premature deaths a year across the country.

Concern about rising use of woodheaters as electric prices rise
3 June 2011
Australian Lung Foundation member and respiratory physician Jim Markos warns that Launceston was facing  a tough winter battling woodsmoke. Dr Markos said a woodsmoke reduction was needed because there was no safe level and last year, Launceston had 10 days when the city had more than the recommended level of the fine PM2.5 particles in the atmosphere.

Chemical in woodsmoke a threat to health
17 May 2011
A hidden danger in wood and tobacco smoke could be contributing to health problems such as cataracts, arthritis and heart disease, scientists have revealed. The threat comes from the chemical isocyanic acid (HNCO), which dissolves into the moist tissues of the body and promotes inflammation. Read more (NOAA News).

Call for increased air quality monitoring in Newcastle
7 May 2011
Newcastle lord mayor John Tate has called for an expansion of the city's air-monitoring network after increasing concerns about the quality of air. It follows calls from researchers and community members for funding to investigate possible changes in pollution levels. Hunter coal mines poor record on pollution.

Asbestos in WA schools fear
30 April 2011
One in five state schools in WA needs asbestos removed or stabilised, an Education Department audit has revealed. Health experts warn that inhaling asbestos fibres can cause lung cancer and asbestosis

State of the Air 2011 - American Lung Association
27 April 2011
The State of the Air 2011 shows that the air quality in many places in the U.S. has improved during 2007-2009. Still, over 154 million people—just over one half the nation—suffer pollution levels that are too often dangerous to breathe.

Air Pollution Exposure Affects Chances of Developing Premenopausal Breast Cancer
20 April 2011
Exposure to air pollution early in life and when a woman gives birth to her first child may alter her DNA and may be associated with premenopausal breast cancer later in life, researchers at the University at Buffalo have shown.

Last winter for open fires in Otago N.Z.
12 April 2011
New woodburner standards will come into effect in Otago region in New Zealand from 1 Jan 2012 to help reduce air pollution in the local communities.

Diesel filters reduce cardiovascular damage from pollution 11 April 2011
The addition of particle traps to more diesel-powered vehicles would reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in the population, results of a new laboratory study suggest.

Busy roads linked to early births 5 April 2011
Expectant mothers living close to high traffic areas may be at increased risk of early birth, according to new Australian research.

Possible links between autism and power stations 5 April 2011
The Federal Government is being urged to release statistics which could possibly identify a link between autism rates and coal fired power stations, including those in the New South Wales Hunter Valley.

How air pollution affects the heart - and how HEPA filters can help 3 April 2011
These articles describe a study in a Canadian town impacted by residential wood burning which investigated how HEPA filters could be used to reduce the adverse health effects of fine particle pollution. The study discovered that using the HEPA filters was associated with reduced inflammation, namely a 32.6 percent decrease in C-reactive protein and an improvement in a test for blood vessel function. It is noted that these changes occurred even though the PM2.5 measurements were relatively low during the experiment.

Wood Smoke: An ‘Ancient and Traditional’ Cause of COPD 2 April 2011 While humans have indeed been burning wood for heat and cooking for thousands of years, this practice has also been harming people’s health for thousands of years and continues to do so today.

Beware the air! Why particulate matter matters
18 March 2011
Latest research into how inhaled PM2.5 exposure stimulates vascular inflammation and injury, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Queensland Health lead report flawed: expert claims
18 March 2011
An independent lead expert says there are flaws in a new Queensland Health report that says blood lead levels are declining among children in the mining town of Mt Isa.

Smoke from wood fireplaces, stoves raises new health concerns 14 March 2011
Recent research raises new concerns over the toxic substances borne aloft in wood smoke. Scientists say the tiny airborne specks of pollution carry carcinogenic chemicals deep into lungs and trigger DNA damage and gene changes comparable to the hazards of cigarette smoke and car exhaust.

US EPA drafts new standards for residential wood heaters 1 March 2011
Nationally in the US, residential wood combustion accounts for 13% of PM2.5 pollution, 44 percent of total stationary and mobile polycyclic organic matter (POM) emissions and 62 percent of the 7-polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), which are probable human carcinogens and are of great concern to EPA. The draft standard proposes tightening the emission limit from 7.5 g/hr to 4.5 g/hr for non-catalytic wood heaters. The US EPA has proposed to publish Residential Wood Heater New Source Performance Standards in June 2011 for public comment and may publish the final rule in July 2012. Workshop Presentation (pdf)

Air pollutants from fireplaces and wood-burning stoves raise health concerns 5 February 2011
With millions of people warding off winter's chill with blazing fireplaces and wood-burning stoves, scientists are raising red flags about the potential health effects of the smoke released from burning wood. Their study, published in the American Chemical Society's (ACS') journal, Chemical Research in Toxicology, found that the invisible particles inhaled into the lungs from wood smoke may have several adverse health effects.
The scientists analyzed and compared particulate matter in air from the center of a village in Denmark where most residents used wood stoves to a neighboring rural area with few wood stoves, as well as to pure WSPM collected from a wood stove. Airborne particles in the village and pure WSPM tended to be of the most potentially hazardous size — small enough to be inhaled into the deepest parts of the lungs. WSPM contained higher levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which include "probable" human carcinogens. When tested on cultures of human cells, WSPM also caused more damage to the genetic material, DNA; more inflammation; and had greater activity in turning on genes in ways linked to disease.

Acrolein and Neural Disorders 1 February 2011
The causes of neurologic disorders are poorly understood, but one of the emerging suspected culprits is the substance acrolein, which tends to be significantly elevated in the brains or spinal cords of people who have Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis ), and other neurologic disorders. This new study adds multiple sclerosis (MS) to the list of disorders potentially affected by this substance. Acrolein occurs in combustion by-products such as vehicle exhaust, industrial emissions, oil- and coal-fired power plant emissions, cooking fumes, and the smoke from burning cigarettes and wood. Article

Woodsmoke and Children's Health January 2011
This study in British Columbia, Canada, found associations between woodsmoke exposure and infant brochiolits and otitis media.

Millions pledged for NSW asbestos mine clean-up 27 January 2011
The New South Wales Government has pledged $6.3 million for remediation work at the Woodsreef asbestos mine, in the state's north west. The promise comes three months after the state's Ombudsman released a scathing report highlighting the threat the site posed to the nearby township of Barraba.

Asbestos threat as Queensland dries out 28 January 2011
Asbestos experts have warned material exposed during the recent flood clean-up is littering streets and causing serious health concerns, despite pleas for it to be handled properly.

The Love Affair With the Fireplace Cools 19 January 2011
Hard as it may be to believe, the fireplace — long considered a trophy, particularly in a city like New York — is acquiring a social stigma. Among those who aspire to be environmentally responsible, it is joining the ranks of bottled water and big houses. “In the city, it doesn’t make sense to burn fires, because it’s inefficient and it’s polluting.”
Wood smoke contains some of the same particulates as cigarette smoke, said Dr. Norman H. Edelman, the chief medical officer for the American Lung Association, as well as known carcinogens like aldehydes; it has also been linked to respiratory problems in young children.

Smoking damages the body 'in minutes rather than years' 17 January 2011
Smoking a single cigarette causes genetic damage to the body within minutes rather than years, researchers say. In a report - described as 'a stark warning' to those tempted to start smoking - scientists found that cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco form rapidly after the first inhalation from a cigarette.

Oxidative Stress, DNA Damage, and Inflammation Induced by Ambient Air and Wood Smoke Particulate Matter in Human A549 and THP-1 Cell Lines 14 January 2011
Woodsmoke contains high levels of PAH, and produces high levels of free radicals, DNA damage as well as inflammatory and oxidative stress response gene expression in cultured human cells.

Residential air pollution and otitis media during the first two years of life
. January 2011
This study in Canada found that infants and toddlers living in areas with a lot of wood stoves and fireplaces were significantly more likely to get ear infections, one of the leading causes of childhood trips to the doctor. “Parents should be aware that wood smoke is an important risk factor in the development of childhood respiratory infections." - Elaina MacIntyre, University of British Columbia.