Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Air pollution affects children's memory, IQ: Study

Exposure to air pollution  can damage the brain,
a new study shows.
City smog lowers children's IQ.

This is among findings from a recent University of Montana study that found children living in cities with significant air pollution are at an increased risk for detrimental impacts to the brain, including short-term memory loss and lower IQ.

Findings by UM Professor Dr. Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas, MA, MD, Ph.D., and her team of researchers reveal that children with lifetime exposures to concentrations of air pollutants above the current U.S. standards, including fine particulate matter, are at an increased risk for brain inflammation and neurodegenerative changes, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

Calderón-Garcidueñas' findings are detailed in a paper titled "Decreases in Short-Term Memory, IQ and Altered Brain Metabolic Rations in Urban Apolipoprotein ε4 Children Exposed to Air Pollution," which can be found online here.

The study found that clinically healthy children who live in a polluted environment and who also carry a gene - the apolipoprotein ε4 allele, already known to increase a person's risk of developing Alzheimer's disease - demonstrated compromised cognitive responses when compared with children carrying a gene with apolipoprotein ε3 allele.

Urban growth leads to environmental pollution

Metropolitan Mexico City is an example of extreme urban growth and serious environmental pollution, where 8 million children are involuntarily exposed to harmful concentrations of fine particulate matter in the air every day beginning at conception.

The study matched two groups of children living in Mexico City by multiple variables, including age, gender, socioeconomic status and education, among others.

They then compared children carrying the ε4 allele to children carrying the ε3 allele and found that those with the ε4 allele had three significant alterations.

They had short-term memory shortfalls, an IQ that while within the normal limits measured 10 points less, and changes in key metabolites in the brain that mirror those of people with Alzheimer's disease.

"The results add to growing data suggesting ε4 carriers could have a higher risk of developing early Alzheimer's disease if they reside in a polluted urban environment," Calderón-Garcidueñas said.

She said the study also raises concerns about important educational issues. Since Mexico City children mostly attend underprovided public schools, children do not build cognitive reserves that serve as a defense to pollution impacts.

"A IQ difference of 10 points will likely have a negative impact on academic and social issues, including bullying and teen delinquency," she said.

A serious public health issue

The authors argue that sustained exposures to urban air pollution result in cognitive underperformance and metabolic brain changes that could lead to an acceleration of neurodegenerative changes.

Air pollution is a serious public health issue, and exposures to concentrations of air pollutants at or above the current standards have been linked to neuroinflammation and neuropathology.

In the U.S. alone, 200 million people live in areas where pollutants such as ozone and fine particulate matter exceed the standards.

There are significant associations between exposures to particulate matter and increased mortality due to stroke, cardiovascular disease and respiratory events. The problem in children living in megacities like Mexico City is much worse.

"There is an urgent need to have a broader focus on APOE ε4 and air pollution interactions impacting children's brains, and their responses could provide new avenues toward the unprecedented opportunity for Alzheimer's disease prevention," Calderón-Garcidueñas said.

"We have a 50-year window of opportunity between the time urban children experience the detrimental effects we are describing here and when they will present with mild cognitive impairment and dementia. We need support for studying the current pediatric clinical and imaging evidence in highly exposed urban children. Our efforts should be aimed to identify and mitigate environmental factors influencing Alzheimer's disease."

Source: Press release via EurekAlert

Breathe fresher air indoors

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price ranges.
When the outdoor air is polluted, indoor air can become a health hazard as well - since contaminants can build up indoors and affect your health and well-being in the long term.

AllerAir's complete air purifiers with activated carbon, HEPA and optional UV address common ambient air concerns, including airborne chemicals, odors, fumes, particles, allergens and biological contaminants.

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Saturday, February 07, 2015

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Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Build a cleaner fire this winter season

Woodsmoke contains fine particles
that may affect your health.
It's not just during the holiday season - all winter long, families and friends will gather around fires in woodstoves or fireplaces.

But how you build that fire – and what you burn – can have a significant impact on air quality and health, both inside your home and out.

Whether you’re using a woodstove, pellet stove, or your fireplace, seeing smoke from your chimney means your fire isn’t burning efficiently or cleanly as it could.

Woodsmoke contains fine particles – also called fine particle pollution or PM2.5  -- which can harm the lungs, blood vessels and heart. People with heart, vascular or lung disease, and older adults and children are more at risk.

Here are some simple tips for building cleaner-burning fires this holiday season:

  • Burn only dry, seasoned wood. Wet, or green logs, create excessive smoke – and waste fuel. How do you tell if wood has been seasoned? Listen for a hollow sound when you strike two logs together.
  • Wood burns best when the moisture content is less than 20 percent. You can purchase a wood moisture meter to test the moisture content of your wood before you burn it. You can purchase these meters for as little as $20 at most home improvement retailers.
  • Start a small fire with dry kindling, then add a few pieces of wood. Be sure there’s space between the pieces of wood – and give the fire plenty of air until it’s roaring.
  • A smoldering fire, “dirty” glass doors on a wood stove, or smoke from the chimney are all signs that your fire needs more air – or the wood is too moist.
  • Never burn household garbage, cardboard, painted or treated wood, or any wood that contains glue, such as plywood or particle board. These items release toxic chemicals when burned -- and if you’re using a woodstove, they can damage it.
  • Check your air quality forecast on airnow.gov before you burn. Some local areas limit woodstove and fireplace use under certain air quality conditions.

If you heat your home with wood, using an EPA-certified wood stove can help you save wood while putting less smoke into the air.

In January 2014, the agency proposed updates to its requirements for newly manufactured wood heaters that will make new woodstoves, outdoor wood boilers and other wood heaters cleaner in the future. EPA anticipates issuing final requirements by Feb. 3, 2015.

Source: EPA

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Friday, November 28, 2014

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Replace your AllerAir filters at 40% off! ONE DAY ONLY

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With winter around the corner we'll be spending more time indoors. Make sure your AllerAir air purifier is ready to provide you with cleaner, fresher indoor air.
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