Category Archives: The Air We Breathe

PM 2.5 nearly doubles the risk of dementia in older women

Breathing an atmosphere contaminated with particulate matter (PM) diameter is <2.5μm nearly doubles the risk of dementia in older women(Translational Psychiatry).   Fossil fuel combustion by-products are a major source of  PM2.5 which we recognize as “smog. ”  Automobile exhaust emissions are a major source of the air pollution city dwellers inhale and account for 25% of ambient PM2.5..

The researchers focused on the effects of breathing in the tiny particles found in air pollution. They concluded that women who are exposed to levels of particulate matter exceeding federal standards were more likely to develop dementia. Fine particulate matter comes from a range of sources, including burning of fossil fuels.

Exposure to particulate matter (PM) in the ambient air and its interactions with APOE alleles may contribute to the acceleration of brain aging and the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Neurodegenerative effects of particulate air pollutants were examined in a US-wide cohort of older women from the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study (WHIMS) and in experimental mouse models. Residing in places with fine PM exceeding EPA standards increased the risks for global cognitive decline and all-cause dementia respectively by 81 and 92%, with stronger adverse effects in APOE ε4/4 carriers. Female EFAD transgenic mice (5xFAD+/−/human APOE ε3 or ε4+/+) with 225 h exposure to urban nanosized PM (nPM) over 15 weeks showed increased cerebral β-amyloid by thioflavin S for fibrillary amyloid and by immunocytochemistry for Aβ deposits, both exacerbated by APOE ε4. Moreover, nPM exposure increased Aβ oligomers, caused selective atrophy of hippocampal CA1 neurites, and decreased the glutamate GluR1 subunit. Wildtype C57BL/6 female mice also showed nPM-induced CA1 atrophy and GluR1 decrease. In vitro nPM exposure of neuroblastoma cells (N2a-APP/swe) increased the pro-amyloidogenic processing of the amyloid precursor protein (APP). We suggest that airborne PM exposure promotes pathological brain aging in older women, with potentially a greater impact in ε4 carriers. The underlying mechanisms may involve increased cerebral Aβ production and selective changes in hippocampal CA1 neurons and glutamate receptor subunits. Top of page Introduction Environmental influences on Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and related dementias (ADRD) are poorly documented.1 Apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 and other loci identified by large GWAS account for less than 50% of heritable AD risk.2 Thus, attention is drawn to environmental risk factors, including common neurotoxins and their interactions with APOE and other genes.2, 3

Alarming Readings

What is safe to eat? What is safe to drink? What is safe to cook with? Is it even safe to breathe?

These three articles listed below, were not only shockingly informative but also terrifying and depressing. It is amazing to me how we can go around feeling so healthy and safe with what we eat and how we treat our bodies. When in reality, our bodies have been involuntarily influenced by harmful chemicals since birth.

The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare

 How The West Was Lost: Devastated By Fossil Fuel Boom

Why This Scientist Does Most of His Work in Trees

The world we live in today is home to a plethora of severe chemical pollution problems. 60,000 unknown chemicals to be exact, are infecting what we eat and drink. They are are also destroying the earth and our animals.  The scary part of this is that companies like the ones in the articles, have been getting away with dumping their toxic waste into landfills and eventually contaminating our water systems, the air we breathe and our harvesting grounds. They have been fully aware of the damage they are causing and continue to pollute our environment and put our lives at risk for decades, without any sort of repercussion from the government and without any information relayed to the public. We have been kept purposefully in the dark.

As in the first article, the company of DuPont is responsible for dumping a poisonous chemical called PFOA into local creeks. It was described as a green liquid that bubbles. DuPont has been aware of its doing, since 1951. Nothing has been done to stop them, until now. Here is a video covering some of the extensive DuPont Investigation and here is a link to further explore this devastation, The Teflon Toxin. 

Comparing the first DuPont article to the second fossil fuel article, it just re-stated the fact that large companies dealing with chemicals and/or oil take extreme advantage of people.  They will go as far as they have to, in order to keep their income level high, regardless of the fact that they are the reason for birth defects, cancer, disabilities, sickness and even deaths.

The third article, offered a lighter topic about a scientist who records exotic/undiscovered animals on his camera, by climbing up in trees and positioning his camera for long periods of time, in order to find new species of animals that we may not normally know about by researching on the ground level. This allowed further insight into how much dedication and time goes into an experiment or discovery.

Similar to the lawyers, whom fight against the oil and chemical companies. Years and years can go into trying to change/stop/bring awareness to the way chemicals that companies purposefully rid of and release waste into the environment. Earthjustice is a non profit environmental law organization. Acting as the lawyer for the earth, it stands up for environmental health and stands against large corporations that are ruining our world like DuPont and oil companies. We are grateful for organizations like Earthjustice.

It is a discerning realization, but we can spend our time blaming Global Warming and diseases and bad habits, but essentially all of these horrible battles are brought on by mankind. We in fact are killing ourselves.


How do we show the effects of engine idling?

George Pakenham, Professor Karl Storchmann, and I continue to ratchet down on idling from our different vantage points.    In my work I have often explored the question of how to render that which is invisible to the unassisted human vision system visible.

Would people shut their engines if they could see the by-products from their gasoline engines?  What if they could see the heat they were generating?

NYC has about 5,100 legally operating food trucks which generate $15 million dollars in taxes.  That’s about 5,000 fossil fuel fired, air-polluting, climate warmers running 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year in New York City alone.

In the United States there are approximately 3 million food trucks burning kerosene, natural gas (hello, it’s methane which comes from decomposing plant matter), propane, and/or gasoline.     That’s a fair number of street level emitters of particulate matter, unburned hydrocarbons, and a whole batch of complex compounds in aerosol, vapor, or otherwise respirable form and heating up the place at the same time.    Plus there is an entire supply chain of high-carbon footprint activities necessary to get that fossil fuel into the tank.

Then there are small engines of many types, buses, and trucks.    Same set of parameters but they burn even more fossil fuel. Instead of 3 million units, there are approximately 253,000,000 cars alone in the United States and around 1,200,000,000 (billion) cars in the world.

That’s a lot of engines, venting approximately 19 pounds of heat trapping carbon products per gallon at the tailpipe.   Somehow we refine a million additional barrels of oil each year  to fuel our lives.  We currently consume 95 million barrels of oil a day (42 gallons per barrel of oil).

In addition to thinking about the complex chemicals generated as a product of the internal combustion process (idling and otherwise) which we are all breathing, this new InfraRed imaging camera has started me to think about more than a billion automobiles helping to heat up the planet as they drive about – or idle.

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Until we come up with a way to change human behavior we are going to have even more people operating their vehicles longer than necessary.   Given the statistics released by the World Health Organization, our love affair with the things we need/want (cars, energy, money, and shiny new things) is literally killing us all.

Kind of a whacky  predicament  for a bunch of otherwise smart people to be in, isn’t it?