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Freeway pollution travels farther than we thought. Here's how to protect yourself

Los Angeles Times

Mason Miller keeps a blanket over the window of his apartment overlooking the 101 Freeway in Hollywood. If anyone knows where to find refuge from air pollution near Los Angeles freeways, it's Suzanne Paulson. The UCLA atmospheric chemistry professor has spent years studying how invisible plumes of dirty air from car- and truck-choked roadways spread into surrounding neighborhoods -- increasing residents' risk of cancer, asthma, heart disease and other illnesses. So when she bought a home in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Santa Monica in 2007, she made sure it was on a quiet street far from the 10 Freeway -- well beyond the 500-foot zone where California air quality regulators say it's unhealthful to put homes, schools and day cares. In the late night and early morning, it turns out, traffic pollution drifts much farther than during the day, and can extend more than a mile downwind from the freeway.


Scientists produce plant selection guide to help planners reduce air pollution

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Botanists have created a'plant selection guide' of tree species and their traits that can help to combat air pollution. The black pine, the common yew, the Spanish oak and Turner's oak all combat air pollution caused by road traffic, including harmful nitrogen oxides. UK researchers identified 12 'influential' traits for 61 tree species that can affect their effectiveness as a barrier against pollution. These include small leaf size, high foliage density, long in-leaf periods and even'leaf hairiness'. Of the 61 species, the researchers say 12 in particular can help form an effective physical barrier between humans and areas of high pollution if grown in quantities.


Tube 'higher than driving' for air pollution, study finds

BBC News

Travelling on the Underground exposes commuters to more than eight times as much air pollution as those who drive to work, a university study has found. Monitors worn by commuters found those who travelled on the Tube were exposed to 68mg of harmful pollutant PM10, whereas car drivers had 8.2mg. The University of Surrey study found when train windows were open, commuters were exposed to more pollutants. Drivers were not as exposed because cars filter the pollutants out. But although drivers are not exposed to as many pollutants, the types given out by cars are more harmful than the ones found on the Underground.


Why Gas Stoves Are More Hazardous Than We've Been Led to Believe

Slate

This story was originally published by Undark and has been republished here with permission. As a physician and epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, T. Stephen Jones spent his career fighting major threats to public health in the United States and globally, from smallpox to HIV to viral hepatitis. But it wasn't until Jones was well into retirement that he learned about a widespread yet widely overlooked health risk in his own home in Florence, Massachusetts, and in most U.S. households: pollution emitted by natural gas appliances. While many Americans might think illness linked to indoor cooking and heating is a problem confined to smoke-filled kitchens in the developing world, the natural gas-burning stoves and furnaces found in millions of U.S. kitchens and basements can produce a range of health-damaging pollutants, including particulate matter (PM), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and formaldehyde. Over the past four decades, researchers have amassed a large body of scientific evidence linking the use of gas appliances, especially for cooking, with a higher risk of a range of respiratory problems and illnesses. Since the publication of two new reports on the subject from the nonprofit research group the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, this past spring, the existence of these gas-fired health hazards has garnered increasing media scrutiny. But less discussed has been how the Covid-19 pandemic has compounded the risks of this pollution, especially for low-income and vulnerable populations, and how key regulatory agencies have lagged decades behind the science in acting to protect them. "There's no question this has been a neglected issue," said Jones, who has drawn on lessons from his long career in public health epidemiology and disease prevention in sounding the alarm throughout Massachusetts and with former CDC colleagues over the past few years.


Babies in low-riding pushchairs are exposed to more air pollution

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Babies in trendy low-riding pushchairs like the Bugaboo Bee and Babyzen Yoyo are exposed to significantly more air pollution than their parents during the school run. UK researchers found infants as high as 2.6 feet from the ground in their pushchair breathe in 44 per cent more pollutants than the adult pushing them. Babies in the bottom of a double-seater pushchair, meanwhile, are exposed to nearly three quarters more pollutants than their fellow rider sitting just above. Scanning electron microscope (SEM) analysis also revealed traces of microscopic particles in the air brake and tyres from nearby cars at low levels. Researchers say pushchair covers reduced the amount of particles in the breathable air – but not completely.