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Orange Alert in Northern China Over Air Pollution Concerns

Chinese authorities announced in July that tax exemptions on purchases of vehicles running on renewables will continue until 2020 to "boost the country's ecological development."

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Effect of Air pollution
Air pollution may also lead to deadly diseases like lung and kidney cancer. Pixabay.

Fearing high amounts of air pollution forecast for Friday, authorities in Chinas northern Hebei province which includes the capital Beijing issued the second-highest level of alert on Wednesday, according to the local environment bureau.

The orange alert is issued when the level of PM 2.5 particles the most harmful kind is expected to remain above 200 on the Air Quality Index for three consecutive days, Efe news reported.

An alert of this level implies a reduction in production for certain industries, as well as the suspension of work in certain construction points. It also results in the prohibition of the circulation of heavy vehicles.

Hebei is located in the heart of the northern plains of China, where smog is common in winter as a result of high concentrations of industrial emissions, limited air circulation and coal burning.

A specific action plan was designed that included the creation of a special agency in that region, where the industrial infrastructure is dominated by chemical industries.

Exposue, Airborne Metal Pollution
Airborne metal pollution is associated with an increased risk of premature death in humans. Pixabay

Liu Youbin, ecology and environment ministry spokesman, said Tuesday at a press conference that “2020 is a key year” to complete the plan, and that “the success of this fall season and winter will be decisive to measure total achievements.”

“There are many tasks planned, more than in the previous two years, which demonstrates the government’s determination to win the fight against pollution,” he said.

However, he warned that winter pollution is “more sensitive,” and that the weather conditions this season are not going to be as favourable as in previous years, when high winds used to help disperse polluting particles.

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Experts such as Lauri Myllyvirta, of international environmental organization Greenpeace, said there has been an effective reduction of pollution in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, but that it has increased in the south of the country, in provinces such as Jiangsu, Anhui, Canton and Fujian.

Chinese authorities announced in July that tax exemptions on purchases of vehicles running on renewables will continue until 2020 to “boost the country’s ecological development.” (IANS)

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Exposure To High Levels of Air Pollution May Lead To Changes in Children’s Brain Structure

Previous studies of traffic-related air pollution suggest that it contributes to neurodegenerative diseases and neurodevelopmental disorders

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Air Pollution
The researchers found that children with higher levels of air pollution exposure at birth had reductions at age 12 in gray matter volume and cortical thickness as compared to children with lower levels of exposure. Pixabay

Exposure to high levels of traffic-related air pollution at age 1 may lead to structural changes in the brain at the age of 12 which can influence the development of various physical and mental processes, warns a study.

The researchers found that children with higher levels of air pollution exposure at birth had reductions at age 12 in gray matter volume and cortical thickness as compared to children with lower levels of exposure. Gray matter includes regions of the brain involved in motor control as well as sensory perception, such as seeing and hearing. Cortical thickness reflects the outer gray matter depth.

The study, published online in the journal PLOS One, found that specific regions in the frontal and parietal lobes and the cerebellum were affected with decreases on the order of three to four per cent. “The results of this study, though exploratory, suggest that where you live and the air you breathe can affect how your brain develops,” said lead author of the study Travis Beckwith, PhD, a research fellow at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in the US.

“While the percentage of loss is far less than what might be seen in a degenerative disease state, this loss may be enough to influence the development of various physical and mental processes,” Beckwith said. For the study, the researchers used magnetic resonance imaging to obtain anatomical brain images from 147 kids.

These children are a subset of the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study (CCAAPS), which recruited volunteers prior to the age of six months to examine early childhood exposure to traffic-related air pollution and health outcomes.

Pollution
Exposure to high levels of traffic-related air pollution at age 1 may lead to structural changes in the brain at the age of 12 which can influence the development of various physical and mental processes, warns a study. Pixabay

The volunteers in the CCAAPS had either high or low levels of pollution exposure during their first year of life. The researchers estimated exposure using an air sampling network of 27 sites in the Cincinnati area, and 24/7 sampling was conducted simultaneously at four or five sites over different seasons.

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Participating children and their caregivers completed clinic visits at ages 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 and 12. Previous studies of traffic-related air pollution suggest that it contributes to neurodegenerative diseases and neurodevelopmental disorders. (IANS)