Tuesday January 21, 2020

A Simple Breakfast Toast Can Cause Air Pollution

"We need to re-focus research efforts on these sources and give them the same attention we have given to fossil fuels. The picture that we have in our heads about the atmosphere should now include a house,"

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Breakfast
Breakfast platter. Pixabay

Making a simple breakfast toast could contribute to a high level of indoor air pollution, say researchers.

According to a research by the University of Colorado Boulder, basic household tasks like boiling water or cooking your dinner or cleaning can leave your home as polluted as a major city.

“Homes have never been considered an important source of outdoor air pollution and the moment is right to start exploring that,” said Marina Vance, Assistant Professor at the varsity.

“Even the simple act of making toast raised particle levels far higher than expected,” she added.

For the study, Vance used advanced sensors and cameras to monitor the indoor air quality of a 1,200 square feet manufactured home. Over the course of a month, the team carried out a variety of daily household activities, including cooking a full Thanksgiving dinner. During the experiment, the measured indoor concentrations were high enough that their sensitive instruments needed to be recalibrated almost immediately.

Breakfast
Making toast can cause air pollution: Study. Pixabay

Vance said it is apparent that homes need to be well ventilated while cooking and cleaning, because even basic tasks like boiling water over a stove top flame can contribute to high levels of gaseous air pollutants and suspended particulates, with negative health impacts.

Moreover, the airborne chemicals that originate inside a house do not stay there. The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from products such as shampoo, perfume and cleaning solutions eventually escape outside and contribute to ozone and fine particle formation, making up an even greater source of global atmospheric air pollution than cars and trucks do, the researchers explained in the paper presented at the 2019 AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington.

Also Read- Does India’s Giant Step in the Direction of Green Energy Signal an End to Coal?

While many traditional sources like fossil fuel-burning vehicles have become much cleaner than they used to be, and ozone and fine particulates are monitored by the US Environmental Protection Agency, but data for airborne toxins like formaldehyde and benzene and compounds like alcohol and ketones that originate from the home are very sparse.

“We need to re-focus research efforts on these sources and give them the same attention we have given to fossil fuels. The picture that we have in our heads about the atmosphere should now include a house,” the researchers said. (IANS)

Next Story

Air Pollution, Stress Associated with Thought Problems in Kids: Researchers

Stress likely leads to wide-ranging changes in, for example, epigenetic expression, cortisol, inflammation, and brain structure and function

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Pollution, pollutants, India, air pollution, WHO, diwali
Delhi air quality continues to be 'very poor'. VOA

Parents, please take note. Researchers have revealed that kids with elevated exposure to early life stress in the home and increased prenatal exposure to air pollution exhibited heightened symptoms of attention and thought problems.

Early life stress is common in youth from disadvantaged backgrounds who also often live in areas with greater exposure to air pollution, according to the study, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

“Prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a neurotoxicant common in air pollution, seems to magnify or sustain the effects of early life social and economic stress on mental health in children,” said study first author David Pagliaccio from Columbia University in the US.

“Air pollutants are common in our environment, particularly in cities, and given socioeconomic inequities and environmental injustice, children growing up in disadvantaged circumstances are more likely to experience both life stress and exposure to neurotoxic chemicals,” said senior author Amy Margolis.

Air pollution has negative effects on physical health, and recent work has begun to also show the effects on mental health. Life stress, particularly in early life, is one of the best-known contributors to mental health problems.

This new study examined the combined effects of air pollution and early life stress on school-age children.

According to the researchers data were collected from the CCCEH Mothers and Newborns longitudinal birth cohort study in Northern Manhattan and the Bronx, which includes many participants who self-identify as African American or Dominican.

Mothers wore an air monitoring backpack during the third trimester of pregnancy to measure exposure to air pollutants in their daily lives.

Stress
Stress is increasingly becoming a dreaded phenomenon. Lifetime Stock

When their children were 5 years old, mothers reported on stress in their lives, including neighbourhood quality, material hardship, intimate partner violence, perceived stress, lack of social support, and general distress levels.

Mothers then reported on their child’s psychiatric symptoms at ages 5, 7, 9 and 11.

The combined effect of air pollution and early life stress was seen across several measures of thought and attention problems/ADHD at the age 11.

The effects were also linked to PAH-DNA adducts–a dose-sensitive marker of air pollution exposure.

Also Read: Apple Planning to Release ‘The Banker’ in Theaters This March

The researchers said that PAH and early life stress may serve as a “double hit” on shared biological pathways connected to attention and thought problems.

Stress likely leads to wide-ranging changes in, for example, epigenetic expression, cortisol, inflammation, and brain structure and function.

The mechanism underlying the effects of PAH is still being interrogated; however, alterations in brain structure and function represent possible shared mechanistic pathways, the study said. (IANS)