Monthly Archives: November 2009

Public Health, Air Pollution and Global Warming

interconnected issues
The Lancet is currently featuring a new research and publication series that examines public health and global warming. There is still disagreement on whether or not global warming exists, and if it does, whether or not it is caused by human activity. As that argument has persisted concerns about how human activity impacts our immediate health has come to the forefront.

The same types of air pollution that are believed to cause global warming are known to cause and exacerbate diseases like asthma, cardiovascular disease and cancer. If governments are dragging their heels in disbelief about global warming maybe they need to take a look at the current rates of these diseases and the economic health costs associated with air pollution. Asthma alone is estimated to cost the U.S. $18 Billion, annually.

Reducing air pollution will not only help prevent climate change, but has an almost immediate positive impact on the health and well being of the entire human race, and reduces the economic burden accrued from pollution-related diseases. The public health benefits garnered from reducing air pollution are just as relevant as keeping the planet healthy. Even if you don’t believe in man-made global warming there are still plenty of reasons to reduce our energy consumption and emissions.

Onwards, to the future!

Idlefreephilly.org – community-based online air pollution mapping!

Idlefreephilly.org

Philadelphia does not currently meet federal air quality standards, in large part due to emissions generated from motor vehicles, especially trucks. When cars and trucks leave their engines running, they are not only wasting fuel, but releasing harmful particles and greenhouse gasses into the air.

To combat unnecessary idling Clean Air Council has launched an exciting new program called Idlefreephilly.org. Idlefreephilly.or is a web-based tool using the free software SeeClickFix, a powerful community mapping platform that allows residents to report problems in their neighborhoods to city officials.

If you observe illegal idling you can jump online, at home, on your laptop, or through the SeeClickFix iPhone app, map the location of the idling, fill in brief description and both Clean Air Council and the City of Philadelphia’s Air Management Services (enforcers of the idling law) will be notified.

Despite idling being a major contributor to air pollution,the anti-idling ordinance lacks enforcement. Through the mapping of idling “hot spots”, areas that deserve attention can be identified making enforcement more likely. This program gives the City a cost-effective way to enforce it’s laws and empowers the public to make a difference in their community.

Saturated fats elicit immune response: Chronic inflammation

New research findings published in Cell Metabolism suggest that high saturated fatty acids found in food like sausages, bacon, salami, cakes, cookies, pastries, chocolate and cheese, can cause low level chronic inflammation. The research demonstrates that the inflammation response is due to the fact that saturated fatty acids are also found in the cell membrane of bacteria. The immune system is treating fatty foods as if it is a foreign/harmful bacteria. Essentially, overeating foods high in saturated fat is on par with having a constant low-grade bacterial infection.

Not only do saturated fats clog arteries, add to body weight in fat and increase the risk of developing diabetes, but they also elicit chronic inflammation (which exacerbates nearly all medical conditions). Unfortunately, “America Runs on Dunkin”…