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Cookstoves contribute to outdoor Air Pollution and have a significant impact on Climate change: Scientists

An estimated 40 percent of the global population use cookstoves that burn solid fuels such as wood

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FILE - A woman in India is uses a cookstove that produces less smoke for burning wood or any other fuel. VOA
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US, Jan 26, 2017: A new study finds that cookstoves, used for cooking and heating inside homes in many developing countries, contribute to outdoor air pollution and have a significant impact on climate change.

An estimated 40 percent of the global population use cookstoves that burn solid fuels such as wood. Most studies of cookstoves focus on the health impacts in and around homes where they are used. Those reports show that up to a half-million people are thought to die every year as a result of inhaling fine particulate matter and soot emitted by cookstoves into outdoor air.

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Now, a new study looks at the air quality and climate impacts of cookstoves on a global scale.

Scientists at the University of Colorado in Boulder and Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, used satellites owned by the U.S. space agency NASA, along with supercomputers that modeled cookstove pollution country by country.

Results showed that cookstoves used in Baltic countries like Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Kazakhstan had an enormous impact on climate change, according to Forrest Lacey, co-author of the study, which was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“In general, it’s more of the northern latitude countries,” Lacey said. “So that’s why we’re seeing like the central Asian countries and Ukraine or Romania, because they actually get a lot of transport on the snow of black carbon, which has an amplified warming impact.”

Impact on Arctic

Some of these carbon deposits can blow as far north as the Arctic, which is experiencing the greatest climate impact caused by greenhouse gases.

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The use of cookstoves in populous countries like India and China also has a huge impact on climate change because of the sheer numbers of stoves that are used. But reducing the use of cookstoves in the Baltics, said the authors, would have the greatest benefit in terms of improving climate and air quality.

NGOs hope to distribute millions of clean stoves around the world this year, according to Lacey, making a sizeable dent in the estimated 100 million cookstoves that are used globally.

Not only would a large-scale reduction in solid fuel cookstoves improve local air quality, said the authors, it would benefit the global climate, too. (VOA)

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Youth in polluted cities at increased risk of Alzheimer’s

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Climate Trends works on solutions to air pollution, while Co Media Lab is a community media lab.
Pollution can lead to Alzheimer's in youth. Wikimedia Commons

Children and young adults living in polluted megacities are at increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s, a debilitating brain disease characterised by memory loss, a new study has warned.

“Alzheimer’s disease hallmarks start in childhood in polluted environments, and we must implement effective preventative measures early,” said one of the researchers Lilian Calderon-Garciduenas from University of Montana in the US.

Air pollution can trigger Alzheimer’s. Flickr

“It is useless to take reactive actions decades later,” Calderon-Garciduenas said. The findings, published in the Journal of Environmental Research, indicate that Alzheimer’s starts in early childhood, and the disease progression relates to age, pollution exposure and status of Apolipoprotein E (APOE 4), a well-known genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s. The researchers studied 203 autopsies of Mexico City residents in the US ranging in age from 11 months to 40 years.

Metropolitan Mexico City is home to 24 million people exposed daily to concentrations of fine particulate matter and ozone above US Environmental Protection Agency standards. The researchers tracked two abnormal proteins that indicate development of Alzheimer’s, and they detected the early stages of the disease in babies less than a year old.

Also Read: Your daily cup of coffee can worsen Alzheimer’s symptoms

The scientists found heightened levels of the two abnormal proteins — hyperphosphorylated tau and beta amyloid — in the brains of young urbanites with lifetime exposures to fine-particulate-matter pollution (PM2.5).

They also tracked APOE 4 as well as lifetime cumulative exposure to unhealthy levels of PM2.5 — particles which are at least 30 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair and frequently cause the haze over urban areas. The researchers found hallmarks of the disease among 99.5 percent of the autopsies they examined in Mexico City. In addition, the findings showed that APOE 4 carriers had a higher risk of rapid progression of Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s can cause depression too. Pixabay

The researchers believe the detrimental effects are caused by tiny pollution particles that enter the brain through the nose, lungs and gastrointestinal tract, and these particles damage all barriers and travel everywhere in the body through the circulatory system.

The authors noted that ambient air pollution is a key modifiable risk for millions of people across the globe. “Neuroprotection measures ought to start very early, including the prenatal period and childhood,” Calderon-Garciduenas said. “Defining pediatric environmental, nutritional, metabolic and genetic risk-factor interactions are key to preventing Alzheimer’s disease,” she added. IANS