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Vehicles are the top contributor to air pollution in the Philippines – DENR

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

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QUEZON CITY, Philippines — Measures to improve air quality in the Philippines are among the priority agenda at the ongoing 8th Annual Clean Air forum of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The discussion points to vehicle emission as the leading factor that contributes 69% to the country’s air pollution.

90% of which comes from Metro Manila.

Based on records of DENR, the current rate of air pollution has declined by about 20%.

However, it is still more than the allowable level stated in the Clean Air Act.

Based on records of the Land Transportation Office, more than 6,000 vehicles have been added on the road from 2012 to 2014.

“It [pollution] worsens because the number of vehicle is increasing; the population is growing; the roads are getting congested and structures are getting higher. These are some factors why air pollution remains on the ground and not dispersing,” explained Rene Pineda, Partnership for Clean Air president.

In 2013, more than three million developed respiratory diseases due to air pollution but the number has lowered by 29% in the past 3 years.

“It aggravates the respiratory diseases like asthma. And it allegedly cause pregnancy defects,” said Eva Ocfemia, Assistant Director of Environmental Management Bureau – DENR.

The government is now penalizing violators of Clean Air Act through the no-contact anti-smoke belching operation. As of today, the government has apprehended almost 9,000 firms for failing the emission standards and for operating without proper permits.

DENR advised to use cleaner fuel to lessen pollution.

“The Euro2 fuel that we use has 500ppm in terms of sulfur dioxide emission. If we use Euro4 it further downgrades emission level to 50ppm only,” Ocfemia said.

The public may also contribute in reducing air pollution by not smoking, by walking or using bicycle for short distances or riding the mass transport system.

It is also better to recycle your garbage instead of burning it.

(REY PELAYO/UNTV NEWS)

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Air pollution fine particles linked to poor sperm quality

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a respiratory protection mask walks toward an office building during the smog after a red alert was issued for heavy air pollution in Beijing’s central business district, China, December 21, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee

(Reuters Health) – Exposure to fine particles in air pollution may be another factor that affects men’s sperm quality and their fertility, suggest researchers in Taiwan.

Although the clinical effect may be small, the findings could be important from a public health perspective due to worldwide exposure to pollution, the authors write in BMJ Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

“Particulate matter contains many toxic chemicals such as heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which have demonstrated harmful to semen quality in laboratory and animal studies,” lead author Xiang Qian Lao told Reuters Health in an email.

“Sperm shape and size is an important parameter for fertility. Lower percentage/number of normal sperm may cause infertility,” said Lao, a researcher with the Jockey Club School of Public Health and Primary Care at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Although exposure to environmental chemicals has long been considered a potential contributor to infertility, little is known about the effect of air pollution, the study team writes.

They looked at both short-term and long-term exposure to the very fine particles in air pollution known as PM 2.5, which are 2.5 microns or less – about thirty times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. These fine particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and even enter the bloodstream.

This kind of particle pollution can be found both indoors and outdoors and most often comes from vehicle exhaust, the burning of wood, crops, coal or heating oil, and from emissions given off by power plants and other industries.

Cities in China and India have recently been struggling with PM 2.5 pollution levels much higher than is considered safe by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Lao’s team analyzed health exam records and health questionnaires for nearly 6,500 Taiwanese men ages 15 to 49 who participated in a medical examination program between 2001 and 2014.

Semen samples were taken and the men’s sperm quality was assessed for the total sperm number, as well as their size, shape and ability to move.

Because it takes about three months for a man to make new sperm, the researchers used each participant’s address as well as satellite data to estimate his exposure to PM 2.5 pollution over a three-month period as well as his average exposure over two years. Both long- and short-term average particle concentrations were typically within the safe range, with about half below 26 micrograms of particle pollution per cubic meter of air.

For every incremental exposure increase of 5 micrograms, however, researchers found that men’s sperm concentration increased slightly while their risk of abnormally shaped sperm rose by 18 percent with short-term exposure and 26 percent with long-term exposure.

The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to determine whether or how PM 2.5 pollution may affect sperm.

Still, Lao said, “Given the ubiquity of exposure to air pollution, a small effect size of PM 2.5 on sperm normal morphology may result in a significant number of couples with infertility. Thus, global strategies are necessary to minimize the impact of air pollution on reproductive health.”

The primary finding of this study is a significant decrease in the percentage of sperm that are normally shaped with increasing air pollution (PM 2.5), but the percentage of sperm that are morphologically normal is still very high, said Shanna Swan, a researcher with the Environmental Medicine and Public Health department at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.

The change in sperm concentration is difficult to interpret, noted Swann, who wasn’t involved in the study. For one thing, the average sperm concentration in the participants was fairly low.

“Strengths of the study are its large size, its use of cutting-edge estimates of air pollution and WHO semen analysis methods,” she said in an email.

Semen quality is significantly related to fertility; men with no (or very few) moving sperm cannot fertilize an egg, she noted.

SOURCE: bit.ly/2AaYoxz BMJ Occupational and Environmental Medicine, online November 13, 2017.

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UNICEF: Babies’ brains damaged by pollution

by UNTV   |   Posted on Friday, December 8th, 2017

Seventeen million babies under the age of one are breathing toxic air, putting their brain development at risk, the UN children’s agency has warned.

Babies in South Asia were worst affected, with more than 12 million living in areas with pollution six times higher than safe levels. A further four million were at risk in East Asia and the Pacific.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said breathing particulate air pollution could damage brain tissue and undermine cognitive development. The effects lasted a lifetime, it said.

Delhi’s air pollution is triggering a health crisis. It called for wider use of face masks and air filtering systems, and for children not to travel during spikes in pollution.

“We come here daily for a walk near the presidential palace. There is a big difference between how things were previously and how they are now. We cannot breathe properly while walking here. Asthma patients also face several problems here. Earlier it was good, now we are also facing some problems in breathing,” said Gopal Krishna, a local resident.

Indian and Sri Lankan cricketers playing in Delhi vomited on the pitch during high levels of pollution.

Meanwhile, the third United Nations Environment Assembly convened in Nairobi of Kenya on Monday, drawing more than 4,000 people from over 100 countries and regions to discuss measures aiming at zero-pollution.

The three-day meeting is themed “towards a pollution-free planet” and is expected to finalize a global declaration on combat over “rampant pollution” which threatens human lives, economies, and ecosystems.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, Erik Solheim, called through the assembly for global efforts to defeat pollution to return clean environments to the people.

“City authorities need to respond to that by reducing pollution in the cities and then you need metros; you need bike-sharing; you need electric mobility, and of course, you need to close down coal plants,” said UNEP Executive Director Erik Solheim.

“As more and more of the world urbanizes, and without adequate protection and pollution reduction measures, more children will be at risk in the years to come,” said UNICEF. — UNICEF

 

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Paris goes car-free a day as city fights against pollution

by UNTV   |   Posted on Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

IMAGE_UNTV_NEWS_100217_PARIS CAR FREE

All the streets in Paris were car-free on Sunday as part of Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s fight against air pollution, allowing families and tourists to wander on the roads around landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and Champs Elysees for the third year in a row.

In spite of the rain, thousands of walkers, joggers, and cyclists reigned supreme on the car-free Champs Elysees avenue, which is typically a major east-west thoroughfare for one of Paris’ swankiest neighborhoods, running from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe.

“It is fantastic. I wish it could happen every day, it really is, it’s amazing. I cycle all over Paris but you take your life into your own hands and so today is a luxury, it’s a gift, it’s wonderful,” said Philip Brooker, a Paris resident.

Parisians were encouraged to use non-motorized vehicles since only vehicles for disabled people, taxis and public transport was authorized to circulate between nine in the morning to six in the evening.

“It’s true that it is a good initiative, but it might not be practical for everyone either. Personally, it doesn’t bother me at all,” said Bernard Bachellez, a motorist.

“This is fantastic to be here on this day and to walk in here and see so many people that would use it as it is,” said Murray, a tourist from Perth.

Sunday’s car-free day is part of a series of environmentally friendly moves by socialist Mayor Hidalgo after several episodes of oppressive smog in Paris over the years. — Reuters

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