Thursday, November 23, 2017

Air Pollution, Scott Pruitt and Heartland Institute

I've read some articles recently that highlight how the corruption of the Trump administration will affect all of us in coming years. Appropriately, it will even affect the people behind these actions.

Scott Pruitt, head of the EPA, has appointed Robert Phalen to the agency's Scientific Advisory Board after being recommended by the Heartland Institute, that great champion of anti-science. Phalen is noted for saying the air is "too clean" and we need to breathe more irritants in order for our bodies to learn how to fight them off and that modern air is too clean for "optimum health."

Really. He actually said that.

Let's take a look at another article, this one published by Science News to see just how invalid his statements are. The article, The list of diseases linked to air pollution is growing lists a number of health problems associated with air pollution. These include:
  • 200,000 premature deaths in the United States every year due to particulate air pollution;
  • A study of 20 of the largest US cities showed the highest death rates occurred the day after particulate concentrations reached their highest levels;   
  • A study of deaths in Boston showed that daily deaths over a decade peaked on days when three pollutants were at their highest levels even though those levels were below the EPA recommended levels;
  • The American Heart Association published an article in 2004 stating "a strong case" that air pollution increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the US;
  • A paper in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007 showed an increase of 10 micrograms of fine particles per cubic meter of air increased the risk of dying from heart attack or stroke by 76 percent and the risk of any kind of cardiovascular disease by 24 percent; 
  • The American Heart Association updated its position in 2010 that 'the overall evidence is consistent" with a causal relationship between particulate pollution and cardiovascular disease;
  • A paper published in 2012 found results consistent with these previous results, stating even mild levels of particulate pollution increased the risk of stroke by 34 percent within a day of exposure;
  • Several studies have shown breathing polluted air leads to animals and children developing diabetes symptoms more frequently than control subjects breathing clean air;
  • Studies indicate certain pollutants are found to mimic or disrupt actions of hormones, contributing to weight gain;
  • Studies have shown children exposed to traffic air pollution have, on average, a higher BMI than children breathing clean air;
  • Experiments involving lab animals have shown animals exposed to polluted air gain more weight than animals breathing clean air even though their diets are identical;
  • People exposed to the most air pollution are the ones most likely to develop dementia;
  • Early results indicate a possible link between Parkinson's disease and air pollution.
This air pollution discussed in this article comes from power plants, industries, vehicles, and other sources of fuel burning. Included in this pollution are carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter. Chemical reactions of  nitrogen oxides with volatile organic compounds creates ozone, a particularly noxious pollutant. Studies show higher mortality rates in areas with areas with higher levels of sulfate particles in the air. 

Oh, and remember the advisor to the EPA says the air is too clean.

If left to Scott Pruitt, this is what our air will look like. I took these pictures recently while traveling in the western US.

Dinosaur Valley National Monument - Northern Colorado. The National Parks Service says the air pollution is from local power plants. You can see approximately 10 miles in this picture. On a clear day you can see nearly five times as far.

A power plant near Pueblo, Colorado. Do I need to say more?
As I said at the beginning, the justice is that the people behind all of this breathe the same air as the rest of us.

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