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17 Jul

Two Major Air Pollutants Decline During COVID-19 Pandemic

Researchers say the improvement is likely temporary.

Health News Results - 116

Seasonal allergies are striking this year at the worst possible time, with the United States in the midst of a fourth wave of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

You've got an itchy nose and watery eyes. Or maybe you've got a fever and a sore throat. Or you've developed a cough and you have trouble breathing.

Is it COVID-19, or just your usual allergies?

Confusion is perfectly under...

Living near a Superfund hazardous waste site may shorten your life, new research suggests.

There are thousands of Superfund sites across the United States and they include manufacturing facilities, processing plants, landfills and mines where hazardous waste was dumped, left out in the open or poorly managed, posing a risk to the environment and human health.

In this study, researc...

California's strict limits on diesel air pollution appear to have paid off.

Since the limits were added in 1990, diesel exhaust-related deaths have been halved, with the largest reductions in deaths seen in lower-income communities, a new study finds.

By 2014, California saw a 78% decrease in diesel emissions, while diesel emissions in the United States fell by only 51...

Even small increases of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) air pollution may cause an uptick in heart- and lung-related deaths, underscoring the need to tighten limits on this type of air pollution, Chinese researchers say.

NO2 is produced by burning fuel for vehicles, power and industrial production. World Health Organization (WHO) air quality guidelines recommend NO2 levels not exceed an annual ave...

Fewer children end up in ERs for asthma attacks if nearby coal-fired power plants are shut down, a new study finds.

"When these power plants close, we see a reduction of somewhere between 12% and 18% in emergency department visits for asthma," said senior researcher Emily Pakhtigian, an assistant professor of public policy at Pennsylvania State University. "When the plants close down, chi...

The smoke from forest fires is sending children to emergency rooms with respiratory problems at higher rates than ever before, a new study finds.

"Kids are particularly vulnerable to pollution from wildfires, so they can have asthma exacerbation and other respiratory problems," said senior researcher Tarik Benmarhnia, an associate professor of family medicine and public health at the Univ...

Fine particles in wildfire smoke pose a far greater threat to the lungs than similar particles in vehicle exhaust and other types of air pollution, researchers report.

These fine particles -- called PM2.5 -- have a diameter about 1/20th the size of a human hair and can get into the respiratory tract, enter the bloodstream and damage key organs.

PM2.5 is the main component of wildfir...

Breathing in air that has even low levels of pollution poses a threat to older adults' heart and lungs, a new study warns.

Researchers analyzed medical records of more than 63 million Medicare patients from 2000 to 2016. They found that long-term exposure to low levels of air pollution could increase the risk of pneumonia, heart attack, stroke and the irregular heart rhythm known as atria...

Worried about what damage the polluted air outside might pose to your health during your work commute? New research suggests you might want to worry more about the chemicals you are exposed to inside your car.

Benzene and formaldehyde are used in automobile manufacturing, and both are known to cause cancer at or above certain levels of exposure. Benzene also poses a risk of repro...

Two types of air pollution declined in cities around the world during initial COVID-19 lockdowns, but one type increased, a new study finds.

Researchers assessed changes in levels of nitrogen dioxide, ozone and fine particulate (PM2.5) air pollution during lockdowns in 11 cities: Beijing and Wuhan in China; Milan; Rome; Madrid; London; Paris; Berlin; New York; Los Angeles; and Delhi, Indi...

The COVID-19 shutdown in New York City gave researchers an unintended "natural experiment" of cleaner air, where they could simulate what it would be like for future health and economics if improved air quality could be sustained.

In their new study, Columbia University researchers asked, "What if air quality improvements in New York City during the spring 2020 COVID-19 shutdown were sust...

Tiny particles of air pollution were already known to raise people's risk of developing heart and lung disease, but a new study suggests they might also raise the risk of developing chronic kidney disease.

Researchers from Peking University in Beijing, China, found that the risks from this fine particulate matter was significantly stronger in urban areas, and among males, younger adults a...

One way to to influence meat consumption -- and perhaps curb climate change -- is through social media messaging, according to a new study that used Facebook Messenger.

"The results of the research are really encouraging," said study co-author Wouter Poortinga, a professor of environmental psychology at Cardiff University in Wales. "It shows that we can make changes to our diet, and if we...

Older adults exposed to air pollution might have a heightened risk of abnormal "plaque" accumulation in the brain, a new study suggests.

Plaques refer to clumps of protein called beta-amyloid that build up in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. In the new study, researchers found that among older adults with memory and thinking problems, those exposed to higher levels of air po...

People who cook with wood instead of other fuels may be at risk of lung damage because of the pollutants and bacterial toxins they're breathing, a small study suggests.

Researchers studied the impact of cookstove pollutants on 23 people in Thanjavur, India, who use liquefied petroleum gas or wood biomass (wood, crop waste or wood brush) to cook.

They measured concentrations of pollu...

Pollutants in the air -- fine particulates that are 30 times smaller than the width of a strand of hair -- may be damaging older women's brains.

In a new study, researchers linked breathing in high levels of this polluted air to shrinkage in areas of the brain that are vulnerable to Alzheimer's disease.

"Fine-particle pollution is kind of like a cocktail. There are a lot of differen...

Air pollution poses a threat to homeless people's mental and physical health, researchers say.

They asked 138 homeless people in Salt Lake City about when and how they knew the air was polluted and how air pollution makes them feel. They also examined their health records.

More than half the people said they'd had physical reactions to air pollution (such as headaches and difficulty...

High levels of ozone air pollution could increase the risk of cardiac arrest, a new study says.

It included 187,000 people, average age 63, in the United States who suffered out-of-hospital cardiac arrest between 2013 and 2016.

Their exposure to ozone air pollution was estimated using U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data on daily ozone levels in different regions.

F...

People with long-term exposure to air pollutants may be more likely to die from COVID-19, according to a new study.

In an analysis of more than 3,000 U.S. counties, researchers found that just a small increase in long-term average exposure to fine-particle pollutants (PM2.5) upped the risk of death from COVID by more than 10%.

The study was published Nov. 4 in the journal Scienc...

Long-term exposure to air pollution is tied to an increased risk of dying from COVID-19, a new study finds.

About 15% of deaths from COVID-19 worldwide could be due to long-term exposure to air pollution, the researchers said. In Europe, the proportion was about 19%, in North America about 17% and in East Asia about 27%.

These proportions are an estimate of "the fraction of COVID-19...

Lockdowns in China and Europe to blunt the spread of COVID-19 resulted in better air quality and thousands of lives saved, a new study finds.

Researchers found that fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations dropped 30% in China and 17% in parts of Europe.

PM2.5 are tiny airborne particles that come from combustion including industrial emissions, transportation, wildfires and ch...

As the air people breathe gets dirtier, their odds for serious neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's and other dementias rises, new research shows.

The long-term study of more than 63 million older Americans can't prove cause and effect, but does show a strong association between air pollution and brain disorders. The researchers said the link was seen even a...

Metals and other air pollutants have been found in the placentas of new mothers, which means such pollutants may be able to reach the fetus, researchers report.

"Our study for the first time shows that inhaled carbon particulate matter in air pollution travels in the blood stream, and is taken up by important cells in the placenta. We hope that this information will encourage policy m...

People with asthma and other respiratory illnesses need to be aware of the threat that wildfire smoke poses to their breathing and take steps to protect themselves, an allergy expert warns.

Wildfires are raging across western U.S. states, and the smoke is spreading across much of the country.

It's important for everyone -- especially children and people with asthma and other...

America's air would become remarkably cleaner if the country accelerated its transition to electric cars that don't rely on fossil fuels, the American Lung Association said in a new report Tuesday.

A full transition to electric cars by 2040 would also result in fewer deaths, asthma attacks, heart attacks, strokes and other health problems related to air pollution, said William Barrett...

HVAC repairman Brad Sissell shrugged off the acid-yellow air surrounding him and kept working, preparing a gas pipe for a new range going into a Salem, Ore., home.

Less than a half-hour's drive away, nearly 200,000 acres were burning in one of the major Oregon wildfires that has sent a full tenth of the state's population fleeing for shelter.

But it was a workday and so Siss...

Even as wildfires rage across California, Oregon and Washington, another danger lurks in the eerie orange haze that has enveloped U.S. cities, towns and neighborhoods this week: an increased risk of catching COVID-19.

Wildfire smoke can irritate the lungs and harm the immune system, explained Dr. Cheryl Pirozzi, a pulmonologist at University of Utah Health. The particulate pollution c...

Indoor spaces often contains harmful chemicals, say researchers who found high levels of toxic flame retardants in the dust of some U.S. college classrooms.

The chemicals have been linked to thyroid disease, infertility, decreased IQ, cancer and other health problems. They were released by furniture in the facilities.

When they get into dust, the chemicals can enter your bod...

Asphalt baking in the summer sunshine is no fun for tender feet, but a new study suggests it's not doing your lungs any favors either.

As it heats up, asphalt releases chemical compounds that contribute to air pollution. And its emissions double as its temperature increases from 104 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, researchers found.

Sunlight plays a key role in these asphalt emis...

High levels of air pollution may increase young children's risk of developing asthma and persistent wheezing, researchers warn.

The findings "support emerging evidence that exposure to air pollution might influence the development of asthma," according to a report by Torben Sigsgaard, of Aarhus University in Denmark, and colleagues.

For the new study, the researchers analyze...

Microscopic bits of plastic have most likely taken up residence in all of the major filtering organs in your body, a new lab study suggests.

Researchers found evidence of plastic contamination in tissue samples taken from the lungs, liver, spleen and kidneys of donated human cadavers.

"We have detected these chemicals of plastics in every single organ that we have investigat...

Burning fossil fuels account for about 100,000 air pollution-related deaths in the United States each year -- but there are other less obvious sources of deadly air pollution, a new study warns.

"People usually think of power plants and cars, but nowadays, livestock and wood stoves are as big of a problem. It's also our farms and our homes," said Sumil Thakrar, a postdoctoral research...

The roar of jet engines may pose a hidden danger to babies: higher odds of premature birth tied to plane exhaust.

So finds a study showing that pregnant women exposed to high levels of pollution from the exhaust of jet planes are 14% more likely to deliver prematurely than women exposed to lower levels.

Researchers looked at exposure to small-particle air pollution amon...

First responders to the 9/11 terrorist attacks appear to be at increased risk for Alzheimer's disease and dementia, new research suggests.

The prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mild thinking impairments among them is well-known, and now two studies from Stony Brook University in New York have identified changes in their brains similar to those in dementia patient...

A ton of dangerous lead dust may have been deposited around Notre Dame cathedral in Paris when it burned in April 2019 -- far more than had been estimated, a new study suggests.

The cathedral's roof and spire were covered in 460 tons of lead -- a neurotoxic metal that's especially dangerous to children -- and questions have been raised about how much lead was released into nearby neig...

Regular exercise can reduce your risk of high blood pressure, even if you live in an area with high levels of air pollution, new research shows.

The new study included more than 140,000 adults in Taiwan who did not have high blood pressure and who were followed for an average of five years.

The researchers found that those who were highly active and exposed to low levels of ...

U.S. air quality improved after businesses closed to reduce the spread of the new coronavirus, researchers say.

For their new study, they compared air pollution data for 122 U.S. counties between March 13 and April 21, to the same dates and locations going back to 2017.

"It has been shown that high air pollution may play a role in exacerbating respiratory diseases, including...

Dirty air is the curse of urban living, and studies have shown that breathing it in harms the brains of men and women alike.

But a new study suggests that diet can help reverse the damage: Older women who regularly ate fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids seemed to better withstand the neurological effects of smog.

"Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to fight inflammation and m...

It has been the sole silver lining in the coronavirus pandemic -- cleaner air and water on the planet. But will it continue?

A new study says that isn't yet clear.

"The pandemic raises two important questions related to the environment," said study author Christopher Knittel, from the MIT Sloan School of Management in Boston. "First, what is the short-run impact on fossil fu...

Fine particulate air pollution remains at levels deadly to older Americans, a new study finds.

If U.S. air quality standards for fine particulate pollution ((PM2.5) complied with World Health Association guidelines, more than 140,000 lives could be saved over a decade, say researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in Boston.

"Our new study included t...

A new threat has been added to the risks posed by fireworks -- they can release toxic metals that can damage your lungs.

These metals give fireworks their colors, according to researchers who found harmful levels of lead in two of 12 types of commercially available fireworks they tested.

"While many are careful to protect themselves from injury from explosions, our results s...

Wildfire smoke has an almost immediate harmful effect on the heart and lungs, researchers say.

Using data from wildfire seasons between 2010 and 2015 in British Columbia, Canada, the researchers linked exposure to elevated levels of fine particles in smoke with ambulance dispatches for heart and lung conditions. Dispatches rose within an hour of exposure to wildfire smoke, the investi...

Long-term exposure to fine particle air pollution is a major risk factor for heart disease and death, but even small reductions in pollution levels can reduce the threat, a new study shows.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 157,000 adults, aged 35 to 70, in 21 countries.

Between 2003 and 2018, more than 9,100 people had heart disease events, including more than 4,000 ...

Here's some truly sunny news out of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lower levels of air pollution resulting from people staying at home have enabled more sunlight to reach solar panels and increased their output of clean energy.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from Delhi, India, one of the world's most polluted cities, and published their findings June 19 in the journal ...

As the giant Saharan dust plume continues its 5,000-mile journey across the Atlantic Ocean, experts warn that people in its path can expect to have flare-ups of allergies and asthma.

The massive dust cloud is expected to hit the U.S. Gulf Coast this week.

"The tiny dust particles contained in the plume will cause eye, nose and throat irritation for anyone who comes in thei...

A pandemic, a slew of protests -- and now a huge blanket of Sahara Desert dust will engulf parts of the United States this week.

That's what some weary Americans will have to brace themselves for by Wednesday or Thursday, meteorologists and health experts warn.

The dust plume, drifting from North Africa across the Atlantic to North America, occurs a few times every year, the...

Here's more bad news associated with climate change: Pregnant women exposed to air pollution or heat waves face a greater risk of having a preterm or underweight baby, a new research review finds.

The review, of 68 studies from across the United States, found that the large majority arrived at the same conclusion: Babies were at greater risk when their mothers lived in areas with poor...

Anesthesiologists can help save the planet, a new study suggests.

Increased use of regional anesthesia instead of general anesthesia may help reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, according to researchers at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

Unlike general anesthesia, regional anesthesia doesn't use volatile halogenated agents, ...

Air pollution might increase the risk for multiple sclerosis (MS), Italian researchers report.

They found that in places with low levels of tiny particles of air pollution called particulate matter, the risk for MS was lower than in areas where those levels were high. In urban areas, the risk was 29% higher than in rural areas.

"Our findings show that the prevalence of...

It's not just your imagination -- with everyone avoiding travel, the air is cleaner these days. Daily global carbon emissions fell by about one-sixth during the coronavirus pandemic, researchers say.

But it's not likely to last.

"Population confinement has led to drastic changes in energy use and CO2 emissions. These extreme decreases are likely to be temporary though, as th...

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