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Journal: Environmental research


Although the health effects of long term exposure to air pollution are well established, it is difficult to effectively communicate the health risks of this (largely invisible) risk factor to the public and policy makers. The purpose of this study is to develop a method that expresses the health effects of air pollution in an equivalent number of daily passively smoked cigarettes.

Concepts: Risk, Economics, Decision theory, Pollution, Number, Derivative, Finance


Exposure to particulate air pollution is a major environmental risk factor for cardiovascular mortality and morbidity, on a global scale. Both acute and chronic cardiovascular impacts have so far been attributed to particulate-mediated oxidative stress in the lung and/or via ‘secondary’ pathways, including endothelial dysfunction, and inflammation. However, increasing evidence indicates the translocation of inhaled nanoparticles to major organs via the circulation. It is essential to identify the composition and intracellular targets of such particles, since these are likely to determine their toxicity and consequent health impacts. Of potential major concern is the abundant presence of iron-rich air pollution nanoparticles, emitted from a range of industry and traffic-related sources. Bioreactive iron can catalyse formation of damaging reactive oxygen species, leading to oxidative stress and cell damage or death. Here, we identify for the first time, in situ, that exogenous nanoparticles (~15-40 nm diameter) within myocardial mitochondria of young, highly-exposed subjects are dominantly iron-rich, and co-associated with other reactive metals including aluminium and titanium. These rounded, electrodense nanoparticles (up to ~ 10 x more abundant than in lower-pollution controls) are located within abnormal myocardial mitochondria (e.g. deformed cristae; ruptured membranes). Measurements of an oxidative stress marker, PrPC and an endoplasmic reticulum stress marker, GRP78, identify significant ventricular up-regulation in the highly-exposed vs lower-pollution controls. In shape/size/composition, the within-mitochondrial particles are indistinguishable from the iron-rich, combustion- and friction-derived nanoparticles prolific in roadside/urban environments, emitted from traffic/industrial sources. Incursion of myocardial mitochondria by inhaled iron-rich air pollution nanoparticles thus appears associated with mitochondrial dysfunction, and excess formation of reactive oxygen species through the iron-catalyzed Fenton reaction. Ventricular oxidative stress, as indicated by PrPC and GRP78 up-regulation, is evident even in children/young adults with minimal risk factors and no co-morbidities. These new findings indicate that myocardial iron overload resulting from inhalation of airborne, metal-rich nanoparticles is a plausible and modifiable environmental risk factor for cardiac oxidative stress and cardiovascular disease, on an international scale.


Dengue is the world’s most important arboviral disease in terms of number of people affected. Over the past 50 years, incidence increased 30-fold: there were approximately 390 million infections in 2010. Globalization, trade, travel, demographic trends, and warming temperatures are associated with the recent spread of the primary vectors Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus and of dengue. Overall, models project that new geographic areas along the fringe of current geographic ranges for Aedes will become environmentally suitable for the mosquito’s lifecycle, and for dengue transmission. Many endemic countries where dengue is likely to spread further have underdeveloped health systems, increasing the substantial challenges of disease prevention and control. Control focuses on management of Aedes, although these efforts have typically had limited effectiveness in preventing outbreaks. New prevention and control efforts are needed to counter the potential consequences of climate change on the geographic range and incidence of dengue, including novel methods of vector control and dengue vaccines.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Demography, Mosquito, Yellow fever, Prevention, Aedes aegypti, Aedes, Dengue fever


Poor mental health in childhood has implications for health and wellbeing in later life. Natural space may benefit children’s social, emotional and behavioural development. We investigated whether neighbourhood natural space and private garden access were related to children’s developmental change over time. We asked whether relationships differed between boys and girls, or by household educational status.

Concepts: Psychology, Sociology, Child, Childhood, Adolescence, Developmental psychology, Child development, Universe


Microplastics (MPs) represent a current public health concern since toxicity has not yet fully investigated. They were found in several foods, but to the best of our knowledge, at this time no data was reported for the edible vegetables and fruits. We focused on diet exposure aiming to evaluate the number and the size (<10 μm) of MPs in the most commonly consumed vegetables and fruits, in relation to their recommended daily intake too. MPs extraction and analysis were carried out using an innovative Italian methodology and SEM-EDX, respectively. Finally, we calculated the Estimated Daily Intakes (EDIs) for adults and children for each type of vegetal and fruit. The higher median (IQR) level of MPs in fruit and vegetable samples was 223,000 (52,600-307,750) and 97,800 (72,175-130,500), respectively. In particular, apples were the most contaminated fruit samples, while carrot was the most contaminated vegetable. Conversely, the lower median (IQR) level was observed in lettuce samples 52,050 (26,375-75,425). Both vegetable and fruit samples MPs levels were characterized by wide variability. The smallest size of MPs was found in the carrot samples (1.51 μm), while the biggest ones were found in the lettuce (2.52 μm). Both vegetable and fruit samples had size of the MPs characterized by low variability. We found the highest median level of MPs in samples purchased from the "fruiter 3" (124,900 p/g) and the lowest in those purchased in "supermarket" (87,600 p/g). The median size of the MPs had overlapping dimensions in all the purchase sites, with the exception of the samples purchased at the "shop at km zero 2″ which had slightly smaller size (1.81 μm). The highest adults' (4.62 E+05) and children's (1.41 E+06) EDIs are due the ingestion of apples, instead the lowest are due to the ingestion of carrots (adults: 2.96 E+04; children: 1.15 E+05). We hypothesized that the mechanism of uptake and translocation of MPs can be the same described and reported for carbon-nanomaterials. This may be a possible translocation route of MPs by environment to vegetables permitting, so, the translocation or uptake inside of their biological systems. Based on the results obtained it is urgent important to perform toxicological and epidemiological studies to investigate for the possible effects of MPs on human health.


The relationship between environmental noise and health has been examined in depth. In view of the sheer number of persons exposed, attention should be focused on road traffic noise. The city of Madrid (Spain) is a densely populated metropolitan area in which 80% of all environmental noise exposure is attributed to traffic. The aim of this study was to quantify avoidable deaths resulting from reducing the impact of equivalent diurnal noise levels (LeqD) on daily cardiovascular and respiratory mortality among people aged ≥65 years in Madrid. A health impact assessment of (average 24h) LeqD and PM2.5 levels was conducted by using previously reported risk estimates of mortality rates for the period 2003-2005: For cardiovascular causes: LeqD 1.048 (1.005, 1.092) and PM2.5 1.041(1.020, 1.062) and for respiratory causes: LeqD 1.060 (1.000, 1.123) and PM2.5 1.030 (1.000, 1.062). The association found between LeqD exposure and mortality for both causes suggests an important health effect. A reduction of 1dB(A) in LeqD implies an avoidable annual mortality of 284 (31, 523) cardiovascular- and 184 (0, 190) respiratory-related deaths in the study population. The magnitude of the health impact is similar to reducing average PM2.5 levels by 10µg/m(3). Regardless of air pollution, exposure to traffic noise should be considered an important environmental factor having a significant impact on health.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Demography, Population, Population ecology, Population density, Pollution, Noise pollution, Air pollution


BACKGROUND: Several studies have linked biomass cooking fuel with adverse pregnancy outcomes such as preterm births, low birth weight and post-neonatal infant mortality, but very few have studied the associations with cooking fuel independent of other factors associated with stillbirths. METHOD: We analyzed the data from 188,917 ever-married women aged 15-49 included in India’s 2003-2004 District Level Household Survey-II to investigate the association between household use of cooking fuels (liquid petroleum gas/electricity, kerosene, biomass) and risk of stillbirth. Prevalence ratios (PRs) were obtained using Poisson regression with robust standard errors after controlling for several potentially confounding factors (socio-demographic and maternal health characteristics). RESULTS: Risk factors significantly associated with occurrence of stillbirth in the Poisson regression with robust standard errors model were: literacy status of the mother and father, lighting fuel and cooking fuel used, gravida status, history of previous abortion, whether the woman had an antenatal check up, age at last pregnancy >35 years, labor complications, bleeding complications, fetal and other complications, prematurity and home delivery. After controlling the effect of these factors, women who cook with firewood (PR 1.24; 95% CI: 1.08-1.41, p=0.003) or kerosene (PR 1.36; 95% CI: 1.10-1.67, p=0.004) were more likely to have experienced a stillbirth than those who cook with LPG/electricity. Kerosene lamp use was also associated with stillbirths compared to electric lighting (PR 1.15; 95% CI: 1.06-1.25, p=0.001). The population attributable risk of firewood as cooking fuel for stillbirths in India was 11% and 1% for kerosene cooking. CONCLUSION: Biomass and kerosene cooking fuels are associated with stillbirth occurrence in this population sample. Assuming these associations are causal, about 12% of stillbirths in India could be prevented by providing access to cleaner cooking fuel.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Pregnancy, Childbirth, Demography, Gasoline, Petroleum, Obstetrics, Abortion


Most studies examining the temperature-mortality association in a city used temperatures from one site or the average from a network of sites. This may cause measurement error as temperature varies across a city due to effects such as urban heat islands. We examined whether spatiotemporal models using spatially resolved temperatures produced different associations between temperature and mortality compared with time series models that used non-spatial temperatures. We obtained daily mortality data in 163 areas across Brisbane city, Australia from 2000 to 2004. We used ordinary kriging to interpolate spatial temperature variation across the city based on 19 monitoring sites. We used a spatiotemporal model to examine the impact of spatially resolved temperatures on mortality. Also, we used a time series model to examine non-spatial temperatures using a single site and the average temperature from three sites. We used squared Pearson scaled residuals to compare model fit. We found that kriged temperatures were consistent with observed temperatures. Spatiotemporal models using kriged temperature data yielded slightly better model fit than time series models using a single site or the average of three sites' data. Despite this better fit, spatiotemporal and time series models produced similar associations between temperature and mortality. In conclusion, time series models using non-spatial temperatures were equally good at estimating the city-wide association between temperature and mortality as spatiotemporal models.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Fundamental physics concepts, Temperature, Thermodynamics, Heat, Interpolation, Urban heat island, Kriging


Air pollution (AP) may affect neurodevelopment, but studies about the effects of AP on the growing human brain are still scarce. We aimed to investigate the effects of prenatal exposure to AP on lateral ventricles (LV) and corpus callosum (CC) volumes in children and to determine whether the induced brain changes are associated with behavioral problems.


As part of the only national survey of lead in Australian children, which was undertaken in 1996, lead isotopic and lead concentration measurements were obtained from children from 24 dwellings whose blood lead levels were ≥15µg/dL in an attempt to determine the source(s) of their elevated blood lead. Comparisons were made with data for six children with lower blood lead levels (<10µg/dL).

Concepts: Concentration