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February 21st, 2013:

China: Pollution problems & control proposals for solid waste management

Atmospheric pollution problems and control proposals associated with solid waste management in China: A review Review Article
Journal of Hazardous Materials, Available online 18 February 2013, Pages
Hezhong Tian, Jiajia Gao, Jiming Hao, Long Lu, Chuanyong Zhu, Peipei Qiu


► Air pollution problems generated in MSW management processes in China are presented. ► both quantity and composition of MSW generation in China are identified. ► the status of different methods for MSW treatment and disposal are reviewed. ► some comprehensive control proposals for improving MSW management are proposed.

The European Commission ‘promises review of clean air standards’

The European Commission ‘promises review of clean air standards’

Following reports from the World Health Organization (WHO) which claimed that air pollution could be linked to a variety of health problems including cardiovascular and respiratory deaths, the European Union (EU) has promised a review of its clean air standards later this year.

Indeed, EU commissioner Connie Hedegaard spoke in parliament on Thursday (January 31st 2013) to say that air pollution is a serious problem that needs strict and immediate attention.

Air quality is a matter that should be a concern to all of us – as breathing human beings but also as citizens, colleagues and politicians,” she said.

The EU had decided to name 2013 the ‘Year of air’, to symbolise the dedication to cleaning up the air this year.

The announcement has come just days after the worst ever smog was witnessed in China’s capital Beijing.

Ms Hedegaard has been quick to reinforce that this is not just a problem overseas, instead she called it a mistake “to think that this is just a developing country problem”.

In fact, it is estimated that poor air quality was the cause of more than 420,000 premature deaths in the EU in 2010 alone.

“Air pollution is still deeply affecting European citizens and workers; not just as a cause of premature death, but also as a cause of diseases,” Ms Hedegaard claimed.

The EU is looking for public opinion on how to tackle the problem, and it will be asking for advice until March 4th 2013.

“Through this consultation, the European citizens have the chance to express their opinion about possible solutions for air pollutions.

“The feedback received will feed into the formulation of Europe’s new air quality policy in 2013,” she said.

One area that needs tackling, according to Ms Hedegaard is the pollution caused by airports.

Day’s worth of fat in child fast-food meal

Day’s worth of fat in child fast-food meal


February 22, 2013

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Amy Corderoy

Health Editor, Sydney Morning Herald

Child eating burger.

Super-size … a report from the Cancer Council NSW found 90 per cent of children’s meals exceeded recommended limits of salt and sugar.

CHILDREN’S fast food meals vastly exceed the amount of energy, salt, sugar and saturated fat children should eat in one meal, according to a damning report from the Cancer Council NSW.

The Fast Food: Exposing the Truth report showed an urgent need to reduce the amount of energy and unhealthy ingredients in fast food meals, the council said.

Its nutrition and program manager, Clare Hughes, said Australians on average spend about a third of their food budget on fast and takeaway food.

“If we are serious about addressing the issue of overweight, obesity and chronic disease in Australia we have to be realistic and say people are eating out of home … so if we can make these unhealthy choices a bit healthier that might make a difference”.

But the Australian Food and Grocery Council has criticised the report, saying it relies on out-of-date information and selective benchmarks.

The report analysed 199 different children’s meal combinations from six major fast food outlets, finding at worst they contained more than an entire day’s salt and saturated fat in the one meal.

“If kids are having a fast food meal they are getting a fair whack of what they should be having in one day, in one meal,” Ms Hughes said.

It found 90 per cent of children’s meals exceeded the recommended salt levels for four- and eight-year-old children.

About 70 per cent exceeded energy and sugar requirements for four-year-olds, and about 50 per cent for eight-year-olds.

Ms Hughes said the researchers had also recorded more than 1400 meal purchases at 20 fast food outlets, finding that people chose the healthy options on menus less than 1 per cent of the time.

“What that tells us is it is not just about including healthy options,” she said. “One of our recommendations is that targets be set for reform of all fast food products.”

The report also found about a third of fast food outlets did not have nutritional information available for customers.

In NSW nutrition information is mandatory, but Ms Hughes said a national approach was needed to ensure everyone could access it.

A spokesman for the food and grocery council said the Cancer Council was basing its assessment on a British recommendation that a meal should contain 30 per cent of daily energy and unhealthy nutrients.

“[Our] nutrition criteria is established by accredited practicing dieticians utilising Australian nutrient reference values,” he said. “The 30 per cent number being used in this study … has no relevance to Australian dietary guidelines”.

He said the majority of the main fast food companies had already completed roll-outs of nutrient information on menu boards, and healthy choices were available

Read more:

Draft Government Regulation of low-emission zones goes to the government

DIRECTIVE 2008/50/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 21 May 2008 on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe

Download PDF : LexUriServ

Summary report of the Aphekom project 2008-2011

Answers to Key Questions on the
Impact of Air Pollution on Health in Europe

Download PDF : get_file




Feel the burn

With dozens of new incinerators poised to appear all over Britain, why is the UK so far behind the United States in concern over possible health risks to the public?

Incinerators emit fine smoke particulates, known as PM2.5, from burning rubbish. These are less than 2.5 microns in diameter and can be absorbed straight into the blood. In 1997, the US passed tough new laws requiring coal-fired power stations and incinerators to measure PM2.5 continually and to keep down emissions.

The new laws followed a series of articles in the New England Journal of Medicine and studies from the Harvard Air Effects Institute which found a strong association with overall mortality, cardiovascular deaths and also lung cancer.

The regulations were challenged by the power companies but upheld by the US supreme court as the evidence of the dangers of PM2.5 was undeniable.

In Britain, by contrast, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) has repeatedly said that “modern incinerators” when “well run” cause “very little public health damage”.

This has suited the government because incinerators, although expensive when built under the private finance initiative (PFI), allow the government to pay less EU landfill tax.

The Commons environmental audit committee did put out a report in 2009-2010 stating that: “The costs and health impact of fine particle,PM2.5, air pollution is almost twice that of obesity and physical inactivity.” Obesity was then costing the health system £ 10.7bn a year, while PM2.5 pollution was estimated to cost up to £ 20.2bn. The report also asked why fine particle pollution received no attention in media and medical circles.

Part of the answer might lie in the high number of government advisers involved in expensive (and so remunerative) incinerator PFI schemes.

In addition, an emissions tester for incinerators has contacted the Eye to add to the picture.

This whistleblower says that to fulfill the Environment Agency permit, PM2.5 is not continuously measured and incinerator companies only have to send measurements from their stacks usually once a year.

Private companies charge between £10,000 and £120,000 a year to carry out the tests. But if an incinerator fails, the companies have no duty to report this to the Environment Agency and another test is done later. The incinerator companies can decide when it is done and will do it months in advance to make sure they get the right result.

Companies can even change the type of waste they burn and the temperature at which they do so for test day.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs admits to having 62 Monitoring stations across the UK for PM2.5, none of them anywhere near an incinerator.

Given that the UK had 103 incinerator sites licensed in 2010, and By 201 I a further 20 applications from the large power companies were on the books at Defra, it is surely time for the UK to start following the stricter monitoring policies of the US.

Smog in Pearl River Delta ‘worse than in Beijing’

Submitted by admin on Feb 21st 2013, 12:00am



Lo Wei and Agence France-Presse

Shoe and cosmetic factories the main factors behind higher levels of dangerous organic compounds, says mainland dust expert

Pollutants in the Pearl River Delta are more dangerous than those choking the capital because they contain higher levels of hazardous nitrogenous organic compounds, an expert said yesterday.

Wu Dui, an expert in dust haze and researcher at the China Academy of Meteorological Sciences, said health-threatening PM2.5 particles in the delta region contained more nitrogenous organic compounds than in central and eastern parts of China and the Yangtze River Delta.

The volatile organic compounds were mainly emitted during the manufacture of shoes and cosmetics and were the main components of photochemical smog.

Wu said the problem was identified a decade ago but had been given scant attention.

His claim came as a British study concluded that exposure to higher levels of fine particulates – the airborne pollution that plagues many Asian cities including Beijing and Hong Kong – causes a sharp rise in deaths from heart attacks.

Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine established a clear link between exposure to PM2.5 pollutants and early death after following 154,000 patients in England and Wales who had been taken to hospital with heart attacks between 2004 and 2007.

In Hong Kong, we are being disastrously poisoned on a daily basis

About 30 times thinner than a human hair, PM2.5 particles have long been identified as a respiratory problem, as their size enables them to lodge deep in the lungs. The average PM2.5 level in Hong Kong is around 30 to 35 microgrammes per cubic metre. The World Health Organisation has set guidelines of a maximum of 10 microgrammes of PM2.5 per cubic metre as an annual average exposure.

“We found that for every 10 microgrammes per cubic metre in PM2.5, there was a 20 per cent increase in the death rate,” said Cathryn Tonne, who led the research.

They followed the patients for more than three years after their release from hospital. Nearly 40,000 died in that period. If PM2.5 levels had been reduced to their natural background rate, they calculated the number of deaths would have fallen by 4,873, or 12 per cent.

In Beijing last month, PM2.5 levels reached 993 microgrammes per cubic metre, almost 40 times the WHO’s recommended safe limit of 25 microgrammes over a 24-hour period, triggering a public outcry.

Anthony Hedley, honorary clinical professor of community medicine at the University of Hong Kong, said the association between air pollution and heart disease had long been established, but the new study quantified the relationship and strengthened knowledge in the area.

In the region where the study was conducted, pollution levels were a quarter to a third of that in Hong Kong, yet they were proven to be causing deaths from heart diseases. “In Hong Kong, we are being disastrously poisoned on a daily basis,” Hedley said.


Pearl River Delta

Beijing air pollution


More on this:

Polluters given deadline to clean up emissions [1]

Airborne pollution causing surge in heart attack deaths, says study [2]

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